From Foundation to Finish

Jonny Darbyshire has been working in the agricultural and plant industries for over almost 10 years, recently the tractor driver-turned-plant-operator made the change from farming to construction. Working with a small construction company in based in South East England working on new build developments.

After graduating university in 2010, Darbyshire started working in agriculture driving tractors and telehandlers before training and becoming qualified to drive heavier machinery such as sprayers and combine harvesters. Darbyshire says:

‘There’s almost like a hierarchy, you start driving tractors and then the better you get, the more machines you’re allowed to use and they get more and more sophisticated. I would basically do all the technical stuff where you need to be accurate in your operation. It was all before the time of GPS, autosteer or anything like that so it was all self operated.’


Darbyshire left his work in agriculture a couple of years ago

‘I now work for a small construction company doing small new build developments. We do everything from foundations to finish. For the Plant works that’s usually groundworks and foundations, but also landscaping. So it can go from using quite large diggers to the smallest digger you can find doing all the little finickity stuff at the end without wrecking the house you’ve just spent a year building. The machines I use range from 8 tonne to 0.75, basically the smallest we can find.  I’ve found that the bigger they are, the easier they are to operate. The bigger machines have more technology, more money has gone into making them. Sometimes when I go from driving a big one to driving a little one it can be quite jerky and it’s hard to be quite as precise.’

In contrast to the long days of farming, Darbyshire notes that working in construction brings less hours but new challenges,

‘When doing groundworks you have to be really aware because you’re working around people. Farming can quite often be on my own in the middle of a field, so I’m not likely to run someone over; whereas at the construction site I’m working around other people – all it takes is one little mistake and someone who hasn’t put on their hi-vis could be hit by a shovel’

The chat lead to conversation about mod-cons in heavy machinery

‘Your aircon and your bluetooth and all these mod-cons that people take for granted in cars, machinery cabs are only starting to get there in the last few years.’

The JCB Command Plus Cab, revealed at LAMMA ‘19, is one example of how machines in agriculture and construction are putting operator comfort to the forefront with a quieter, longer, and wider cab.

When asked about his favourite piece of machinery, Darbyshire doesn’t miss a beat

‘For me it would need to be my New Holland T7210 – I think I spent more time in that than I did with my wife the first year of our marriage.’

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