Kubota joins the thoroughbreds at the National Stud
Covering an area of 500 acres, The National Stud's impressive site just outside Newmarket is no walkover when it comes to grounds maintenance.
Take away the buildings, stable yards and 375 acres of grazing paddocks from the total and it still leaves more than 40 miles of hedges and fences, 10 miles of roadside verges and around 50 acres of woodland, grass rides and other open areas to be maintained.
Although able to call on bigger agricultural tractors for major operations such as large paddock topping, rolling, fertilising, spraying and moving waste materials, Stud Operations Manager, Nigel Wright, has entrusted three Kubota machines with seasonal tasks that require a nimble, light-treading footprint. All were supplied through local dealer, Thurlow Nunn Standen Ltd.
Proving a great all-round load carrier and people mover since its arrival in summer 2005, the RTV900 utility vehicle has spent much of the time helping with the renovation and clear-up of spinneys and copses around the site.
Driven principally by head gardener, Ian Bailey, the RTV900's rear tipping load body has been invaluable in moving and offloading wood chippings to suppress weeds on the many flowerbeds and borders maintained by the estate maintenance team.
Nigel Wright points out that although functioning first and foremost as a world-class thoroughbred stud farm, The National Stud runs a number of well-established non-commercial activities for which it was granted charitable status in December 2005.
Such activities include training and education programmes for stud staff world-wide, owner-breeder clubs that enable members of the public to become involved in the bloodstock industry and public guided tours to raise awareness of horse racing and associated areas.
"Although our commercial stud activities have to be self-supporting, tourism and education are vital in helping fund the running of The National Stud, which is publicly owned," commented Mr Wright. "To my knowledge, we are the only stud farm in the UK that is open to the public with around 20,000 people visiting between March to September for twice daily guided tours around the site. As a centre of excellence welcoming visitors from all parts of the world, it is essential that our grounds always look at their very best."
In addition to the Kubota RTV900 utility vehicle, The National Stud also runs an F3060 out front mower with 60in rotary deck. "Any wider than 60 inches and we would not be able to cut the numerous narrow grassed avenues lying between the 70 double-fenced paddocks spread across the site," explained mower operator, Darryl Grimwood. "It takes me a couple of days a week during the season to mow the avenues with another day required to deal with the longer grass areas. The mower is superb for work in tight corners and around trees and posts."
The third item of Kubota equipment used by Nigel Wright's maintenance team is a 36hp Kubota STV36 compact tractor. Its principal duties include leaf sweeping, garden hedge-cutting and, very importantly, harrowing and fertilising smaller paddocks and other areas where the large tractors cannot comfortably operate.
]"All in all, the Kubota machines go about their work effectively, economically and quietly," commented Mr Wright. "This latter point is very important when working close to stallions, mares and their offspring, all of which are worth a great deal of money. At the peak of the breeding season in April, there can be up to 170 mares in residence. It's like a first-class equine hotel and Kubota plays its part in helping keep the site in fine fettle."
Photo: show the Kubota RTV900 utility vehicle and F3060 out front mower in typical action at The National Stud, near Newmarket.