Richard Campey, European distributor for the Dakota range, shows us two trailed machines of the same capacity — the 412 and 420 — both impressive haulers in the 1.6cu m class. The first thing we notice is that all four wheels are in a line, which almost forms a roller beneath the hopper. The machines have independent walking-beam axles so the weight is evenly distributed. On the pitches it leaves no mark. There should not be a problem on golf greens, tees or fairways either.
The 412 is operated by easy-to-use controls from the cab. The tractor needs to be around 30hp and you are looking for about 15 litres/minute of oil for operation. Spreading is easily adjusted by electro-hydraulic controls to give coverage from 3.7m to 12.2m. Increasing the tractor speed to 12km/h alters the application rate.
The 420 unit impresses the team of reviewers. It is Dakota’s “all-singing, all-dancing” Turf Tender. It’s got the lot. There’s a front-mounted side conveyor and front- and rear-unloading hopper conveyor. With this machine you can fill bunkers, other materials handlers or other top-dressing machines.
For spreading, the 420 has a conveyor belt with tracking to ensure the materials stay in the middle, and a dual spinner discharge system. The controls are set from the outside, with on/off control from the tractor. The spread pattern is variable from 3.5m to nine metres wide and is certainly very even.
In spreading mode this Dakota gives an outstanding performance, but what we really like about this unit is its versatility. We watch it with a trenching attachment — backfilling the ground with remarkable speed.
The spinning discs can also be changed quickly — simply remove the sand discs, pop in the fertiliser discs or seeding discs and away it goes again.
“It’s incredible,” says our tester. “With this machine you will always have the equipment you need for the job.”
But versatility is no use on its own. Contractors’ machines need to withstand the hard labour and busy schedules that goes with the job. On inspecting the construction, we are not disappointed. This unit has a heavy-duty frame construction and the hopper is coated with polyurethane paint.
Options on the 412 include hydraulic load breaker and hopper vibrator. Extras for the 420 include electric front door, floating scraper for filling divots and hollows, sandbagger chute, hydraulic load breaker, seeding and fertiliser discs, computerised fertiliser system and front-mount stone or gravel chute.
But what if you have no tractor or you prefer to run turf vehicles across the ground? Dakota has the answer with the 410 Turf Tender. And it has one or two clever features.
The 0.65cu m capacity dresser has the same dual spinner discharge system as its brothers and provides a spread pattern variable up to nine metres wide. But instead of being trailed, it can be mounted onto a John Deere ProGator or Toro Workman turf vehicle. Dakota’s updated hydraulic kit may be required for the Toro, so we look at the unit fitted to a Gator. It seems very stable.
The hopper has the same good looks and strength as the other Dakotas. Importantly, it has been built long enough to enable loading by a 1.8m bucket.
Its weight, including sub-frame, is 354kg and the hopper lifts hydraulically to allow engine servicing. There is a detachable parking stand for storage. Optional extras include the front-mounted stone/gravel chute.
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