Serving the Farming Industry across East Anglia for 35 Years
Two of the region’s biggest drainage companies are celebrating six decades of working together. Drainage experts celebrate six decades of working together

• Regional firms with strong heritage

• Latest technology delivers results

• Better drainage boosts productivity

Two of the region’s biggest drainage companies are celebrating six decades of working together.

With almost 60 years of history, the Lincolnshire Drainage Company undertakes agricultural and civil drainage schemes for more than 1600 repeat customers across the county – and in Norfolk and Cambridgeshire.

At the heart of the company’s operation is its fleet of Mastenbroek trenchers and crawler trucks. The two firms have worked together since the beginning – with LDC founder Willem den Hartog being one of John Mastenbroek’s first customers.

“John was a pioneer of agricultural drainage here in the UK,” says Christopher Pett, Mastenbroek’s commercial director.

“He came to the UK to sell Dutch-made trenchers to British contractors. But when he found the area’s soils too challenging for the machines he was promoting, he decided to develop his own range of trenchers and the Mastenbroek brand was born.”

As part of the development work, Mr Mastenbroek spent a lot of time with Willem den Hartog, who also saw the benefits drainage could bring to farmers. LDC and Mastenbroek developed in tandem, and that close relationship continues to this day.

LDC took delivery of its latest Mastenbroek machine – a state-of-the-art 30/20 drainage trencher – at the end of 2022.

Range of machines

Over the past six decades, LDC has put 15 Mastenbroek drainage trenchers and gravel carts through their paces. Today, it operates four 30/20 trenchers and five CT12 carts, taking delivery of its latest machine at the end of 2022.

The 30/20 trencher has two dual-speed motors to maximise torque across the digging chain speed range. Making light work of varied and heavy soils, it enables on-grade sub-surface drainage for agricultural laterals, collectors and cross-country trenching.

Mastenbroek celebrated the 40th birthday of its CT12 gravel cart last year. The milestone moment was celebrated with a significant upgrade to the machine, with a new larger, full-width hopper and a redesigned operator cab added to the machine. 

Mastenbroek has also improved its 30/20 drainage trencher since it was introduced in the 1990`s. Many improvements have been suggested by Mastenbroek’s customers, who include LDC project manager George Firth.

“LDC has a long-standing relationship with the team at Mastenbroek, stretching back beyond 2006 when my father David acquired the business,” says Mr Firth. “As well as working on agricultural drainage, we are undertaking more and more civil work.

“Our civil customers are constantly looking for new and improved safety features alongside performance. That’s why we asked Mastenbroek to alter the width of the operator walkways on our 30/20s, which they did.

GPS depth control

“LDC has always invested in new equipment to ensure our customers receive a cost-effective and efficient job. We hope that the latest 30/20 trencher added to the fleet will provide more productivity for our drainage teams.

“As it features the new Hagglunds chain drives and increased higher horsepower, it should certainly be faster than the previous version.”

All the 30/20 trenchers that LDC operates feature GPS depth control, a system developed by Mastenbroek, Trimble and Farm Works Software in conjunction with LDC.

“We were the first contractor in Europe to use GPS depth control on agricultural drainage projects,” says Mr Firth.

“The latest software version is installed on all our trenchers and delivers precise level control. This allows us to accurately lay our drains ‘on grade’ to the correct levels, digging only to the required depth and using the required amount of aggregates.

“We achieve this by surveying every drain individually with the trencher. This will appear on a screen in the cab for the operator to see, allowing them to see where there are any lower areas.

“We can use aggregates more effectively, directly targeting each low area for maximum effect each time.  The GPS system is far better than the old laser system introduced in the 1970s. It is more accurate for depth control of the trench.

‘Priceless asset’

“It requires less labour in the field and automatically records each job as it goes, so we can produce more precise plans once the work has been carried out. The system is also less susceptible to weather, so we can work when the elements are against us.”

Since it was established, LDC has believed in the benefits that well-drained fields deliver to farmers, says Mr Firth.