The latest generation of Kubota's renowned compact tractors is flying high at a leading military base. Set in a stunning location off the coast of North Wales, RAF Valley on Anglesey is home to No 4 Flying Training School, responsible for the UK's next generation of world-class fighter pilots.
Aircrew are trained at RAF Valley for mountain and maritime operations throughout the world and it is also home to the Mountain Rescue Service, the military's search and rescue, aircraft post-crash management asset.
A total of 1,500 service personnel, civil servants and contractors work at RAF Valley, and in addition to the extensive grass areas for operational use, the site has a large sports and leisure complex for the use of staff and the community.
It is one of a number of MOD sites maintained by national contractor idverde, and in October 2021, a new Kubota L2-622 compact tractor was added to the machinery fleet to work at RAF Valley.
"We had an older L series tractor and Lloyds five-unit gang mower," explains operator Chris Hickey, "But we needed to update the mowing equipment to suit the often wet condition of the grounds, so a Trimax Snake S2 gang roller mower and the latest Kubota L2-622 were purchased."
Over the winter, the L2 did duty with a front end loader to fill gritters and keep the site operational in icy weather, but since March it has been dedicated to mowing.
"We are cutting five days a week, maintaining all of the airfield and any other short grass such as the sportsfields," Chris says. "The mower has to be able to cut at a range of heights, including below 25mm for areas where the Instrument Landing System is in operation, to avoid interference from the grass to the radar."
With such a key role, reliability of machinery is vital, which is where Kubota excels.
"I was familiar with the tractors having driven the previous L series," he comments. "But this new L2 seems a lot smoother and more comfortable to drive. Hydrostatic transmission was specified for the speed of operation and to make use of the cruise control on long runs, and the move to a single pedal makes it much more convenient to use."
He also praises the manoeuvrability of the tractor, which is highly compact for its 62hp output.
"It will virtually turn in its own length, and handles the steeper terrain on the site well with its low transmission range and well-balanced design; plus there's always plenty of power."
Standard turf tyres handle the work on a range of surfaces and also provide a light tread in North Wales's often wet conditions, he points out.
One of the most significant upgrades on the latest L Series tractors is a new, more spacious cab, and this comes in for particular praise from Chris.
"It's a big improvement, very-user friendly. Small details such as the sun visor, air conditioning and radio make a difference when you are in the tractor all day, and the opening three quarter windows at the rear allow fresh air in. It's a great tractor to drive and work with."