Business Rural Spring 2021

| 83 Direct drilling service still at the core Pankhurst Contracting operates three Case tractors from 165hp to 240hp (top). Ben with George Pankhust (below). Russell Fredric RURAL SERVICES » Pankhurst Contracting N orth Canterbury business Pankhurst Contract- ing is one of the 530,000 thousand New Zea- land small or medium (SME) businesses mak- ing a vital contribution to the regional and national economy. Established 30 years ago, Pankhurst Contracting is a family-owned rural contractor, owned and run by David and Diane Pankhurst along with one of their sons, Ben, who has worked in the business for about 17 years and who has a key role in its operations. Growing up on farms and with machinery around him has been a big influence and working for the family company was pretty much a fait accompli, Ben says. “I have got brothers and sisters, but I’m the one that was mad-keen on tractors and everything else. It’s probably somewhere I was always heading, to be fair.” Apart from Ben and his father, the company usually has one full-time employee and two or three seasonal staff. Pankhurst Contracting operates three Case trac- tors from 165hp to 240hp and a range of late model seed drilling, baleage and cultivation equipment. Its direct drilling service forms a large percentage of the company’s work. Pankhurst’s operate two direct drilling units; one of 3.0 metres and a new Allen Custom Drill of 4.5 metres with a one tonne bulk fertiliser hopper. Direct drilling is faster and costs less than conventional cultivation and has other advantages such as limiting soil disturbance and erosion, but its suitability very much depends on the needs of the individual farm and the long-term cycle of individual paddocks. For ground that needs more intensive work the company utilises its 4500 Express Plus Speed discs. Having the right type of modern equipment not only ensures jobs are completed efficiently and in a timely manner, but is also about controlling costs, including the cost of labour and fuel and the com- pany does everything it can to mitigate its impact on the environment. “We try to run the most efficient machinery we can. We have GPS on tractors and for guidance. It keeps costs down for farmers and its better for the environment; we’re not burning as much diesel per acre as we would have 15 years ago by a long way.” However, like their farmer clients, the Pankhurst’s are finding the regulatory environment increas- ingly difficult and are fully sympathetic towards the Groundswell movement’s concerns about “unwork- able” regulations. Despite the significant environmental focus in the rural sector and the investment made by farmers in protecting waterways and soil, the government “are still trying to penalise us into the ground” Ben says. “They won’t look at the science, there’s been plenty of progress but they won’t look at how much is being done. I think a lot of [farmers] are feeling kicked in the guts over it.” Ben says Pankhurst Contracting could be signifi- cantly affected by regulations for hill country farms which states land over 10 degrees slope which are unable to meet the permitted activity standards will need a resource consent. “If the rules actually go ahead the way they are written it could mean there’s a lot of drilling that just can’t get done; people just won’t put winter feed in, it could cut out 20 or 30% of our drilling which is a major concern. “Whether we can find a way to adapt around it, I just can’t see how, without growing those winter feeds, farmers can run the stock so there just won’t be the work for people like us.” P A N K H U R S T Contracting LTD 35 Greta Road, Greta Valley David 027 433 7004 Ben 027 677 5882 Diane 03 314 3595 E: Amberley 03 314 9055 Ashburton 03 307 8027 Leeston 03 324 3791 Timaru 03 688 2179 A family owned and operated agricultural machinery business, Cochranes have been providing excellent customer service and support to South Island farmers and contractors for over 65 years. Like us on Facebook • Precision Machining • Fire Fighting Equipment • Aviation Accessories • Fabrication of new Equipment • General Engineering: Repairs - Modifications Welding of most metals Sheet Metal work Eagle Engineering Specialists in Machining & Welding 03 314 6843 ALL YOUR TYRE NEEDS | WHATEVER YOUR NEEDS 24 HOUR MOBILE FLEET SERVICES North Canterbury Tyre Services Ltd Phone Greg 027 491 1190 Office 0800 473 478 • Farmers • Contractors • Buses • Cars • Trucks • Loaders • 4X4 • Lawnmowers • Quads