The Korean-built Kioti compact tractor may be a more familiar sight on the golf course, but for a Bedfordshire dairy farm, it has proved more than up to the task of scraping. Jane Carley reports.
When W.A. Infield and Son’s scraper tractor broke down four days before Christmas 2018, it is fair to say they were in a bit of a predicament.
Farmed by Richard Infield, operator Julie Humphreys and brother-in-law George Saunders, Ouse Farm is home to 200 cows and followers, milking 120, and the family business is one of just eight dairy farms remaining in Bedfordshire.
Mr Infield says: “We had a relatively modern, albeit 11-year-old, compact tractor for the job and the gearbox went. We were not sure what we were going to do without it in the middle of winter.”
Buildings comprise 100 cubicles plus a straw yard and a new covered feeding yard, so there is plenty of concrete to scrape.
“The broken-down compact had itself replaced an old Fordson Major, but finding another traditional scraper tractor at short notice was not an option as their collectability has made them scarce and pricey,” he says.
Local dealer Farm Serve had demonstrated a Kioti compact on the farm earlier that year, although Mr Infield had not planned replacing his scraper tractor imminently and had not looked at any others. A phone call confirmed a 28hp version of the Korean-built tractor could be on the farm straight away.
“The tractor arrived on December 23 and we breathed a sigh of relief,” says Mr Infield.
Offering a bit more power than its predecessor, the Kioti CK2810 is powered by a 3A193 Daedong three-cylinder engine and has a two-range, pedal-operated hydrostatic transmission with cruise control and power steering.
Mr Saunders says: “It is very easy to drive and manoeuvrable around the buildings, which is key for scraping.”
“Shortly after it arrived, we had the front linkage fitted and Suton Machinery has made a special cubicle brush for us, which makes it a really useful outfit around the buildings. The tractor came factory fitted with the front spools and loader joystick, which is used to control the front linkage, so we did not have to pay extra for those.
The brush also makes for a more balanced combination", says Mr Saunders, although the tractor can handle the scraper without anything on the front, whereas its predecessor needed 120kg of weights on the front to avoid being tipped back.
Mr Saunders adds: “We also use the tractor to spray paddocks, so it is quite versatile and we are considering adding a yard brush to get even more out of it. Getting on and off is easy and the roll bar folds to different heights so we can drop it right down in our lowest building or have it partially up. Maintenance is also straightforward as the bonnet just hinges up after removing one pin.”
An indicator of the groundcare markets these tractors are mainly sold into, the turf tyres supplied have been retained.
Mr Saunders says: “They are pretty robust. We swapped the fronts for eight ply as the extra load from the brush meant we were getting a few punctures, but as it is mainly used on concrete there would be no benefit to cleated tyres. When the muck is slippery in summer, the four-wheel drive helps with grip.”
He acknowledges modern tractors do not have the ‘bulletproof’ reputation of the old classics, adding: “Being purchased new, it is under warranty, and it is well built. Compared to an older tractor, there is the peace of mind offered by good brakes and knowing it will start on a cold morning.”
Mr Infield says: “It has been very reliable and is a simple, effective scraper tractor. We use it every day and have put 760 hours on it in 18 months with just one service. It is a bonus that the tractors are assembled locally and the dealer is just five miles away.”