ARSONISTS are suspected to have targeted a farm, destroying organic hay valued at thousands of pounds.

A barn at Waterview Farm, Hensting Lane, near Colden Common, was set ablaze on Thursday night, destroying more than £3,000 worth of organic hay along with agricultural machinery valued at more than £50,000.

With gate and barn door padlocks broken off and thrown into the field, police are investigating the fire as an arson attack.

Following a previous break-in at the premises back in June, when chain-saws and brush cutting equipment were stolen, it is thought that the same gang had returned for richer pickings such as the Kubota tractor and other valuable equipment but were either disturbed or simply could not move the tractor as it had been immobilised.

Chris Blackman, who works part-time with the small holding partnership, said: “We can see the remains of the burnt-out tractor but we can’t yet see what else they may have taken as the remains of the building are currently unsafe to enter”.

Three fire appliances from Eastleigh and Winchester attended the blaze and stayed throughout the night, preventing the fire spreading to overhanging oak trees and bushes.

Mr Blackman, who was awoken at around 1.30am. by a neighbour, said: “They did a brilliant job. “The problem now is that we can’t supply hay to our usual customers for the whole of the rest of this season. They will have to find alternative providers and who knows if they’ll ever come back to us in the future years"?

Waterview Farm has been producing hay for many years but has recently developed a niche market for top quality organic hay, favoured by the equestrian community. This loss of supply will therefore come as a blow to these customers, some of whom are supplied as far away as Kings Langley in Buckinghamshire.