Long before the city of Las Vegas was founded in the United States, a farming region of the same name existed in Spain, 50km south-east of Madrid. The Las Vegas region has deep, fertile soils which have been farmed for centuries. The soils have a loamy texture and are rich in organic matter, which is great for the local farmers. This farmland sits on the banks of the Jarama, Tajuña and Tajo rivers, which pass through several municipalities, the most well-known being Titulcia, San Martín de la Vega, Villaconejos, Chinchón, Colmenar de Orega, Ciempozuelos and Aranjuez.
The Belmonte’s farm, on the plains of the Tajo River, is part of the Aranjuez municipality and has been the family’s place of work for many generations. Up until the 1970s, they grew a wide variety of crops here including potatoes, artichokes, peppers, asparagus, and other vegetables. In those days, most of the labour was done by hand and there weren’t many tractors.
The story behind the farm is a long journey spanning generations. With a lot of hard work and commitment, they have expanded their original 4-5ha of land to today’s 170ha. Farmers started growing maize in 1975 in the Las Vegas region. As it is such an easy crop to grow and to get a good yield from, it became popular across the entire region and further afield.
Everything is so much easier now that we have the machines on the farm
Manuel Belmonte Gómez
The Belmonte Farm company was founded in 1995 and besides running the farm also offers contracting services. It now employs seven people, led by Manuel Belmonte Gómez. It has become a very well-established company and has a great future ahead. Mr Belmonte Gómez’s children work on the farm too, are involved in its management, and share his passion for agriculture. And one of his grandchildren, although still very young, has already shown interest in continuing the family legacy.
As well as their own 170ha, the Belmontes also grow crops on 60ha of rented land, bringing their total arable land to 230ha. As of today, the farm’s main crop and source of income is still maize, but they have also brought wheat and alfalfa crops into the rotation. The maize produced in this region comes from FAO 700 hybrid isogenic crops, designed to be used as animal feed.
Trust in John Deere
To manage this land, the Belmonte family now owns five John Deere tractors, two John Deere combines, and two trailers. The first tractor they bought back in 1960 was a 38hp (28kW) Lanz Bulldog, with a wooden cab, windows, and curtains. Back then, the Lanz brand belonged to Deere & Company. The first John Deere tractor arrived on the farm in 1975. It was the JD 2135, which the farmer remembers very fondly. The tractor was manufactured in Spain and was “so much better than any we had had before”. It had 75hp (55kW), hydraulic steering and brakes, and a three-range gearbox, which was a huge advancement in tractors at that time.
Other John Deere tractors such as the 3150, the 6300, the 6500 and the 8100 came along later. Purchasing a John Deere 8100 tractor (180hp / 132kW) was another important milestone for the family business, because at that time it was one of the most powerful tractors on the Spanish market. Nowadays, the smallest tractor on the farm is a John Deere 6530 with 140hp (103kW), which is used for tasks with lower power requirements, such as seeding and spraying.
As for the combines, the first one the Belmonte family bought, in the early 1970s, was from another brand, but “after that one, the rest have all been from John Deere because they’re the best”. The first John Deere combine they had was a 975, which they bought in 1976. As they were so happy with its performance, they continued to buy more as the company grew. They had the John Deere 955, 965, 985, 1085 and other combines from the Z and T series. The combine they purchased most recently was a John Deere T-550 in 2018. This combine is a formidable machine with a 6.8 litre engine able to generate 305hp (224kW) of power.
When you buy a tractor or a combine, the most important thing is the after-sales service. And John Deere is where you will find the best service.
Manuel Belmonte Gómez
The Belmontes have always bought their new tractors and combines from the Aranjuez John Deere dealership, now known as Tajada Barrio. They have more than just a professional relationship with this dealership: It is a “strong bond and personal friendship”. When buying a tractor or a combine, the farmers recognise that “without a doubt” the most important factor is the after-sales service, and John Deere is where you will find the best service”.
Services for third parties
Belmonte company doesn’t work that much for third parties anymore. But for many years, the main business was harvesting crops for other farmers.
At that time, Belmonte had five combines which they used to harvest maize, wheat, barley and more, from Toledo to Burgos, traveling thousands of kilometres over a span of many months.
The importance of maintenance
The farmers have had their tractors and combines serviced by the John Deere dealership “since the beginning”. At Belmonte, the official service technicians’ work is particularly appreciated because it’s these technicians who are most familiar with the brand’s different models and “they work very efficiently”.
“Before getting to work, we do preventative maintenance of the combine and the tractors to make sure we don’t run into any problems with them during the more critical moments of the harvest.” When it comes to spare parts, they always use genuine parts because it is important that they are compatible with the manufacturer’s specifications, and to date they have had almost no issues.
Precision farming is our next challenge.
Manuel Belmonte Gómez
One of the plans for the near future is to introduce precision farming technologies, starting with the combines. They want to install GPS devices and yield sensors which would allow the combine to record the yield and the coordinates of everything it harvests, to then create productivity maps for each field. They are also looking to incorporate guidance systems so that they can bring more precision to various harvesting tasks.
These technologies are already successfully used in other parts of Spain, and the staff at Belmonte Farm want to be at the forefront in all areas of agricultural machinery, so that they are best equipped to deal with whatever the future might bring.