Pieter Beukes of De Doorns in the Western Cape was convinced that he could replace his fleet of normal- sized tractors with smaller, more fuel-efficient ones. He asked Kubota, amongst others, for a demonstration, and was soon watching the Kubota B2420 tractor at work in his vineyards. The first thing that struck him was its power, despite its diminutive size.
“I hitched it to my heaviest grape trailer and towed the loaded trailer from the river at the bottom of the farm to the shed at the top. I had to change down only when we got to the last hill before the shed,” he recalls.
Two more tests were carried out, the first of which was tackling powdery mildew with a sulphur duster. Here the small size of the Kubota B2420 tractor proved its worth – it fitted comfortably between the rows and could be easily manoeuvred at the row ends. Additionally, the small wheels helped to prevent damage to low-hanging grapes. All these factors earned it full marks from the driver.
The next test was hauling a full load of grapes in soft sand, which the tractor easily handled with 4WD engaged. The final hurdle, of course, was fuel consumption. This could not be gauged accurately in a series of short tests, but it was obvious that it would be significantly lower than with the full-sized tractors.
Beukes ended up buying six Kubota B2420 tractors, with the low price making the decision far easier. “I’ve got a tractor here that works unbelievably well – at the price of a quad bike,” he says.
The Kubota B2420 tractor – made to measure
Pieter Beukes thought that using the Kubota B2420 tractor for spraying would be a challenge as it meant finding a sprayer that could be towed and powered by the 17,9kW tractor. After some research, he found a sprayer in the Martignani series that would work with a few adjustments.
“The sprayer company adapted the pulley sizes to achieve the same air speed from the blowers using lower tractor power,” explains farm manager Jaco Lötter. Beukes purchased two Martignani sprayer units to carry out all spray work in the vineyards.
A Kubota for every job
The six Kubota B2420 tractorspurchased by Pieter Beukes are not the first Kubotas he has bought; he already has several other Kubota vehicles on the farm.
These include the larger M7040 tractor (below) to spray his vineyards. The diesel consumption of the 53kW Kubota averages 4,4l/h, compared with other tractor brands which average between 6,8l/h and 10,2l/h.
The RTV 900 is used for getting around the farm, while a Kubota L39 TLB is used for excavations, loading soil and lifting tasks. (The L39 has since been superseded by the Kubota L45 TLB.)
Farm manager Jaco Lötter says the larger tractors are used for heavier loads and in the vineyards high up against the mountain.
Joe Spencer is Farmer’s Weekly’s mechanisation editor.
This article was originally published in the 15 April 2016 issue of Farmers Weekly.