There are numerous ways to test an all-terrain vehicle, but a true test of performance, reliability and versatility is to use one on an outdoor pig unit. Just ask Farm Manager David Finkle. The Kubota RTV900 he used when managing the celebrity 'Jimmy's Farm' spent much of its time wallowing in axle deep muck.
"I thought the Kubota RTV was a real class act," says Mr Finkle who has since moved on to a new farming project. "The Kubota was used in all manner of ways around the farm and on the pig unit was the key means of getting straw out to the pigs in all weathers."
Adding that the machine could carry six to eight conventional bales on its load platform, Mr Finkle says the RTV transmission really impressed him. No matter how hard he worked the machine it never once got stuck, even when fully loaded and working through the sort of muck only those who have worked with outdoor pig units can really appreciate.
"The RTV900 is a properly engineered piece of equipment that seemed to get better the more it was loaded up," he says. "I even used it to drag a big tandem axle trailer around at times and it just shrugged it off. Of equal importance, the RTV was 100% reliable."
Adding that the vehicle was driven by a range of operators, many of whom were not familiar with working in demanding off-road conditions, Mr Finkle says safety was a key priority. Not only did the RTV prove extremely stable, with the added security of seat belts and a roll cage, it was easy for novice drivers to drive safely too.
"As soon as you take your foot off the accelerator the RTV slows to a stop," he says. "I found I could carefully train someone to drive the vehicle safely and not worry that I would in any way compromise the farm's risk assessment. The RTV proved utterly fool proof, rugged and dependable."
Whilst on the farm, Mr Finkle also used a Kubota M7040 tractor with a loader. Like the RTV900 this proved a durable tool with stand out economy, manoeuvrability and visibility. Again a range of less experienced operators used the tractor and they all got on with the tractor well, finding hitching up trailers, thanks to the visibility to the hitch, simple.
"The Kubota M7040 is the ideal stock tractor," he adds. "The engine has lots of torque at tick over and this makes it a great loader tractor. It is not overly heavy either, so is ideal for top-dressing, rolling and mowing. It was an impressive tool."
Mr Finkle, who used to work as a prototype development driver for CAT, spent some time looking over the build of both the RTV900 and M7040. He says the way the machines were built really impressed him.
"The RTV900 appears to have been designed so that muck and debris will not get caught in any linkages and the sealed brakes are just that. Sealed!" he says. "These days margins are tight and I expect 100% from any equipment I use. It is no good if a machine has problems coping with tough working conditions. The Kubota RTV900 is a fantastic piece of kit that is well up to the demands of an outdoor pig unit. And the M7040 is a perfect stock tractor. I will miss using them in my new job!"