Folk turned up by the dozen to the RC Baker retirement sale, staged at Spring Hill Farm, in Oxfordshire. Best price on the day was £525,000, which, according to auctioneer Cheffins, makes the Claas Xerion/Kaweco tanker the highest priced lot of modern farm machinery to be auctioned in the UK … ever

With the car park fully occupied early doors, there were vehicles, quite literally, lining all the access roads into Spring Hill Farm, near Banbury, for RC Baker’s retirement sale in mid-December. A real farm auction — old style.

‘Incredible’ is how Cheffins auctioneer, Oliver Godfrey describes the visitor turnout which, both in terms of its numbers and mood, defied COVID’s best efforts to put a dampener on proceedings. “With all the talk of Omicron in the lead-up to Christmas, we didn’t quite know what to expect. But the high regard in which the Baker family is held in the world of agricultural contracting and the impressive quality of the kit on display were clearly major factors in contributing to what was a staggering attendance. We reckon there were comfortably in excess of 500 people on the sale field and, on top of that, there were 450 registered on line.

“Also, the social side of a farm sale should never be underestimated. People were keen to catch up, and there was a really good buzz in the air. This was a proper farm sale.”

A proper sale, yes, but certainly not your everyday, run-of-the-mill auction. There were some seriously specialist items of equipment up for grabs, including a Tramspread Doda HD35 tandem-axle pump (£43,500), an Excel AX63 waste baler (£13,500) and a trio of three-year-old 20,000-litre Abbey 4500T vacuum tankers with loading arms that went to one buyer and averaged almost £32,000 apiece. Nonetheless, there was no doubt over the stars of the show, which, according to Mr Godfrey, achieved the highest values of any individual lots of modern farm machinery sold at auction in the UK: the 2020 Claas Xerion and 28,000-litre Kaweco slurry tanker (£525,000); and a 2017 six-wheel-drive Vredo VT7028 tanker (£425,000).

Was the specialist nature of the kit the sole reason for the strong prices? Seemingly not, because the more ‘conventional’ farm machinery sold well, too. The seven John Deere tractors, ranging in age and hours, all made decent money — from £54,500 for a 17-plate 6215R with 6,885 hours, up to £183,000 for a 20-plate 7R330 with 928 hours — a ten-year-old Claas triple mower rig went for £17,500, and a two-year-old Kuhn Merge Maxx belt merger found a new home at £39,000. Of the arable equipment, among the standouts were a 2017 6.0m John Deere 750A drill at £47,000, a 2012 6.0m Claydon Hybrid mounted drill at £22,000 and a 2012 2.8m Sumo GLS disc/leg cultivator with seeder at £9,800. Even the 13-year-old 6.0m Väderstad Rapid A600S drill, despite having covered more than 9,000ha, returned a healthy £15,000. 

“The Baker auction was a good fun sale, with excellent prices achieved for a great family,” concludes Mr Godfrey.

Below are a handful of the other lots:

Lot 202  The 2017 6215R AutoPowr 50km/hr, 6,885 hours with Degenhart front linkage, 600/70 R28, 710/70 R42 Michelin tyres, AutoTrac ready and activated with activation sold for £54,500

Lot 207 A 2020, 6215R again with the AutoPowr, transmission but 2,961hrs and a 5,000hrs warranty sold for £95,0000. This was a Premium Edition on 600/70 R28, 710/70 R42 Michelin rubber, AutoTrac ready and activated as well as a front linkage.

Lot 208 Another 2020, 6215R AutoPowr but this time with 3,119 hours, so it still had warranty left made a little more at £95,500. It had the same size Michelin rubber, front linkage and auto steer activated.

Lot 203 The newest of the 6215R’s in the Baker fleet, this 2021 model had the same tyres and spec. It had worked just 854 hours so there was plenty of reassurance with the 5,000 hour warranty which helped it release £117,500.

Lot 214 One for the classic fans. The Series II, 1988 Ford 8210 with front weights, Super Q cab and 380/85 R28 front, 460/85 R38 Alliance recently fitted wheels. Showing 6,618 hours, the hammer fell at a healthy £12,500.

Lot 246 The older of two Volvo shovels, the L50E had recently been in the workshop for a transmission overhaul. The boom had also been re-pinned and bushed by Volvo after around 10,000 hours (a new clock had been fitted). On 620/75 R26 Trelleborg tyres it found a new home for £43,000.