After a four year search to find the perfect tractor for the top fruit growing operation at Kelsey Farms in Kent, Jon Holt-Rix has been so impressed with the Kubota B2420 that he purchased a second unit within a couple of months and plans to add a third this winter.
"We grow strawberries on table tops in a 6.5m polytunnel and although the central aisle is 2.1m wide to accommodate the spraying tractor, the gaps between the outer rows are just 1.07-1.1m apart," he explains. "We need to mow the grass underneath the table tops and as a progressive grower that is looking to increase volume it is not practical to use four operators with strimmers!"
Jon had trialled a number of tractors over the years, but comments that if they were small enough to fit down the rows they lacked the power and lift capacity to handle the specialist Kirkland mower, which not only cuts behind the tractor but also uses side cutters to trim around the table legs.
"Most small tractors that we looked at were more like ride-on mowers. But when David Guy from Lister Wilder brought the B2420 on demonstration, I was so impressed that I wouldn't let him take it away!"
The Kubota B2420 provides plenty of power and torque with its 24hp E-TVCS engine, and this, plus the 615kg rear linkage lift capacity really came into its own with the mowers.
"The Kubota lifted the mower like it was a piece of paper, and despite its compact size is a proper tractor with excellent weight distribution," Jon comments, "Yet it is very manoeuverable around the tight access to the tunnels and on narrow tyres fits comfortably down the rows."
As well as the 15hectares of Jubilee strawberries, Kelsey Farms also grows 32hectares of raspberries in pots, so the Kubota B2420 also does duty mowing and weedkilling for this crop and Jon expects that each tractor will put in 700-1,000 hours per year.
"We had a lot of issues with downtime from our previous tractors but a neighbouring fruit grower has a fleet of Kubota tractors and has used them for several years with no problems, so I was already confident of the reliability of this brand," he comments. "They are so simple there is very little to go wrong, which is crucial as it allows us to focus on developing our business rather than worrying about machinery."
Kelsey Farms certainly is a busy enterprise, with all produce packed and stored on site and as owner Paul Kelsey is Chairman of supplier group Berry Gardens, also maintains a high profile which requires the most exacting of standards.
"The Kubota B2420 is a universal, useful tractor which has been a successful purchase for us, so I bought a second one this summer and am looking for a third over the winter," Jon confirms.
Kubota (UK) Ltd., Dormer Road, Thame, Oxfordshire OX9 3UN
Tel: +44 (0)1844268168 - Fax: +44 (0)1844 216685 - Web: http://www.kubota.co.uk