When the tillers in our test finally succumb to the weight and stickiness of the unseasonably wet soil, the tines on the CRT51 keep on turning. This rotary cultivator doesn't know when to give up.
The principle for turning the soil is a tried and tested one, but there is nothing old-fashioned about this machine. In fact, it has a lot of nice, modern features. For starters, it has a modern 5hp (3.7kW) B&S OHV engine, making it easy to start and giving it all the muscle needed for an effective job in densely packed earth and even in the treacle-like conditions encountered on our test site.
We find the machine highly manoeuvrable, thanks, no doubt, to the large 41cm chain-driven wheels with heavy chevron treads that really grip. A counterweight at the front also helps increase the weight on the wheels and gives the machine near-perfect balance.
The working width is just 43cm. But while some contractors might be looking for a little more productivity, there can be no disputing that the CRT51 does an excellent job. Its counter-rotating tines ensure the soil, despite the conditions, is cultivated to an enviable standard. This cultivator digs deep into heavy soils. It can also be used to prepare the surface for a seed bed. The CRT51 can operate at seven different depths down to a maximum of 16cm.
Controls are simple to use and operator comfort is assured by height-adjustable handlebars. The handles do not offset but with OPC on both sides, our testers have no difficulty walking to one side of the machine to eliminate footprints in the freshly turned earth.
The CRT51 has two gears - one forward and a very handy reverse gear. The drive can be disengaged, enabling the unit to be pushed in free-wheel mode. We find it quicker and easier to travel between sites this way but it will also be a useful feature for moving the machine around the shed.
We are impressed with the handlebars and the layout of controls. Everything is within easy reach and where you would expect to find it. This really is a comfortable machine to use. Top marks to Husqvarna.
The review panel
Rob Pinion, grounds person, College of West Anglia, Wisbech
Barbara Welbourn, assistant grounds person, College of West Anglia, Wisbech.
Carrying out a test of cultivation equipment in December was always likely to be plagued by the vagaries of the British weather. That is why we chose to test the equipment in the eastern part of the country. But even at Wisbech the rain can be torrential - so much so that the normally free-draining soil became saturated.
Although the conditions for testing could hardly be further from ideal, we were able to look at six items of cultivation equipment. In the pedestrian section we chose the Husqvarna CRT51 as an example of a wheeled rotary cultivator. It turned out to be a surprise when it came to coping with sticky, waterlogged soil.
The Husqvarna T200 compact and Mantis tiller were selected as examples of small, narrow-width rotary tillers, while the Efco MZ2090R is a full-width tiller. Finally, we looked at two machines from BLEC. The BLEC/Harley power box rake is a tractor-mounted, PTO-driven unit for preparing seedbeds and the BLEC SR3H pedestrian rotor rake is a walk-behind unit for use with Honda power tillers.
The rains eased for the duration of the tests but the soil remained saturated throughout this time. The wind was a cold easterly.