Half a century of industry service - Fruit & Vine

Half a century of industry service

One of the UK’s longest established orchard and vineyard machinery manufacturers and suppliers celebrates 50 years of trading this year, and 40 years since it took on its main tractor franchise. David Williams joined senior team members during a visit to a long-standing customer to find out what makes the dealer’s service so special.

NP Seymour machinery article on fruit and viticulture website
The farm’s fleet of three Fendt tractors, supplied and looked after by NP Seymour.

“We trust the NP Seymour team to give us honest advice and rely on their experience to help us choose the right products, carry out effective repairs and to supply the right parts when they are needed,” stressed John Evans, who runs the farm with his wife Anna – the fourth generation of her family to grow fruit at Hares Fruit Farm in Kent.

The farm is sited in the North Downs, at Shottenden, near Canterbury. Most of the 45ha of land is owned, and a small area is rented from other family members. Apples are the main crop, grown along with two hectares of pears, and the produce is grown to high quality standards for sale through supermarkets. Apple varieties include Gala, Braeburn and Bramley.

Seymour-supplied fleet

NP Seymour machinery on fruit and viticulture website
John Evans is pictured with Nick Seymour.

Products supplied by NP Seymour include the farm’s three Fendt 200-series narrow tractors, packhouse machinery including an Aweta grading line, and tractor implements include a Tecnoagri tractor-mounted forklift; a Perfect front-mounted heavy-duty pulveriser and rear-mounted mulcher combination; a Braun mechanical weeder, and a cover crop drill that Nick Seymour made by mounting an air seeder onto a power harrow. In the past, Berthoud sprayers were also purchased from the dealer. The Seymour team has also modified packhouse and orchard machinery to improve performance and ensure suitability for specific tasks, and fabricated a pick-up hitch allowing the Fendt narrow tractors to tow trailers.

“When we consult Nick with a particular machinery requirement, he first considers whether existing machinery can be converted or adapted rather than trying to sell us something new,” emphasised John. “Margins are tighter these days, and we try to keep costs down, so that sort of service is valued.”

Fendt narrow tractors

The first Fendt tractor arrived on the farm in 1989, purchased by John’s father-in-law. The 250 V 4wd was later traded in for another Fendt, but John said he knows the original tractor remains in regular use on a nearby farm – confirming the brand’s reputation for longevity.

Fendt tractor on machinery article on fruit and viticulture website
“It’s not only the operation that takes time. Turning at the row ends can be very time consuming, but with no foot clutch and the smooth and precise Vario transmission, the Fendt tractors make it much quicker and easier,” says John Evans.

The current fleet includes a 2005 207 F and two 208 F Vario models, new in 2015 and 2018, both with Fendt’s infinitely variable CVT transmission and one of which has a front linkage. Although the two newer tractors do most of the work, clocking up around 700–800 hours each per year, John said that the older machine does most of the pulverising and mowing and is used during harvesting. “We have to make the most of suitable opportunities for spraying, trimming and blossom thinning when the weather allows, so there is little time for other tasks,” John explained. “We leave the pulveriser and mower attached to the older 207 F, so when anyone has time available it’s immediately ready to use.”

“Growing fruit in a competitive market, you need a list of phone numbers and must know who to ring when problems occur. For our machinery, we always phone the Seymour team.”

Superior reliability, efficiency and comfort

Asked about the attraction of Fendt narrow tractors compared to competitor brands, John stressed that Fendt build quality, comfort and ease of use are far superior. “Whenever you look at brochures from orchard and vineyard implement manufacturers, the products are almost always on Fendt tractors. Fendt sets the industry standard, and we know that any implement or attachment we select will fit easily and perform as it was designed to on our tractors.”

The Vario transmission is also an advantage. “Compared to the 207 F with a conventional mechanical transmission, the 208 F Vario tractors save so much time manoeuvring at the row ends. There is no foot clutch to operate when shunting between forward and reverse. The CVT transmission is smooth, and we can achieve the optimum working speed for every task, making small adjustments as conditions vary while the engine speed remains constant. We obtain maximum benefit when spraying with the engine at 1,380rpm to maintain a constant PTO and pump speed, and the transmission is adjusted to maintain the correct application rate. Pulling a full sprayer on our steep banks is effortless, and we save a lot of fuel.”

Quick return to Fendt

Although the farm’s experience of Fendt has always been positive, a competitor brand tractor was owned for a short period. “It was quite a few years ago, even before we had Fendts with Vario transmissions, but we quickly realised that even though the other tractor was a well-known brand it just couldn’t match up to a Fendt, so it was quickly replaced.”

Industry standard

Nick Seymour commented that during the 40 years he has represented Fendt, the brand has always offered top-level comfort and performance. “Fendt was one of the first manufacturers offering comfortable, quiet cabs on its specialist narrow tractors when those of other makes were far more basic. During busy periods, operators of orchard and vineyard tractors often spend long working days in the seat, so the need for comfort and a safe working environment is essential.”

John said that although Fendt tractors come with a premium price tag to match the specification, ownership costs have always been low. “They hold their value and are extremely fuel efficient. We spend little on repairs apart from routine servicing carried out by the Seymour team, and we all find them easy and comfortable to use.

NP Seymour on machinery article on fruit and viticulture website
The Seymour team depends on its customers as much as customers depend on their dealer. Pictured (l-r) New recruit, NP Seymour sales specialist, Tim Sillence; Claire Seymour; NP Seymour marketing assistant, Victoria Rose; John Evans; and Nick Seymour.

“Our biggest cost now is labour. Compared to that everything else is insignificant, so we try to work with what we have as efficiently as possible. In the past it was common to have one elderly tractor for each implement as swapping them over was so time consuming. However, attaching and removing implements from the Fendts is quick and easy, so we don’t have to own and maintain a large fleet of tractors. Also, we take for granted now features like the Fendt’s excellent Bluetooth-connected phone system that allows us to communicate easily while working. Using older and more basic tractors, that wouldn’t be possible.”

Forefront of technology

John said that although NP Seymour is a traditional family business, the range of products offered includes the latest innovations. An example is the Redpulse Duo leaf defoliator, the first of which was imported to the UK by the dealer. Excess foliage is removed, increasing exposure of the fruit to sunlight. “We trialled it last year, fitted to one of our Fendt 208 F Vario tractors. It had to be set up correctly to get the best from it, and we were reassured that the Seymour team knew what they were doing even though it was relatively new. Thinning the leaves helped to achieve even ripening and better quality fruit.”

Mechanical weeding

The farm’s investment in a Braun mechanical weeder, supplied by NP Seymour, is part of a strategy to reduce costs while also operating more sustainably. “There are multiple benefits,” highlighted John. “As well as reducing chemical use, we can also tackle weed growth much later in the season. That was a particular advantage in recent years when the weather started dry but turned wet later resulting in a flush of weeds. It would have been too late to use herbicides at that stage of the fruit growing season, but we can work with the tractor-mounted weeder at any time.”

Whole team supports

“Some suppliers we have used haven’t offered the same level of back-up, and when we called for advice it became clear that we knew more about the kit than they did. Nick and his team provide a valued service to family businesses like ours, but also design, manufacture, supply and look after machinery for some of the biggest commercial growers. They have done the maths and concluded that NP Seymour offers the best option.

“We enjoy being able to call the stores department and give a vague description of the part we need, and the correct item arrives. We call the workshop team when we have a technical query and they provide solutions over the phone. It really helps when we are busy that they know the kit we depend on so well.”

A history of NP Seymour

NP Seymour on farm machinery article on fruit and viticulture website
Nick and Claire Seymour.

The company has been trading since 1974, when Nick Seymour and his wife Barbara established a mobile agricultural engineering business, specialising in maintaining and repairing sprayers. Within three years, part-time engineers were helping meet customer demand, and a permanent workshop site near Goudhurst was established. Business growth continued and, in 1992, the Seymours relocated a few miles to Avon Works, which remains the company’s base today.

Since the start, the company’s priority has been serving the needs of fruit farmers, hop growers, packhouse managers, vineyard owners and winemakers. Their daughter, Claire Seymour now runs the business as sales and marketing director, employing a team of 15 people, while Nick and Barbara remain actively involved.


“I believe that much of the company’s success is due to it being regarded as a one-stop-shop supplying everything needed to grow fruit, vines and hops,” explained Claire. “From the start, if machines weren’t available then my father would source or design a solution, and our experienced engineers operate from well-equipped workshops and continue offering that same level of service today.”

Celebrating 40 years of Fendt specialisation

NP Seymour took on the Fendt specialist narrow tractor franchise in 1984, after a friend suggested to Nick that he should consider the brand.

Additional franchises include Agrofer, Agrofrost, ARS, Aporo, Aweta, Berthoud, BMV, Brevi, Braun, Boreco, Clemens, OCLL, ERO, Fischer, Fruit Tec, KRM, Ladurner, iMetos, KWH, Munckhof, Pellenc, Perfect van Wamel, and Tecnoagri.

The company also supplies Felco hand tools and accessories and is the UK’s official distributor for the popular electric range of secateurs including the Felco PowerBlades.

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