IoG Saltex review: pick of the best tractors, mowers and more

Latest kit designed to boost productivity and efficiency.

On show (clockwise from top left): Ransomes’ Ventrac 4500 diesel tractor, Cushman Hauler from Ransomes, John Deere Gator XUV 590i, Toro LT-F3000 triple flail mower, Gianni Ferrari Turbo 4 Fifty and AS 940 Sherpa from PSD - images: HW
On show (clockwise from top left): Ransomes’ Ventrac 4500 diesel tractor, Cushman Hauler from Ransomes, John Deere Gator XUV 590i, Toro LT-F3000 triple flail mower, Gianni Ferrari Turbo 4 Fifty and AS 940 Sherpa from PSD - images: HW

We packed a lot of new products into the IoG Saltex preview but there was so much more to see on the day - from new tractors and mowers to battery tools and irrigation systems. Product launches upped the stakes in productivity, efficiency and health and safety.

  • See our IoG Saltex page for all the Horticulture Week coverage of the Saltex show

One for the slopes, the Ventrac 4500 diesel tractor, with 25hp Kubota liquid cooled three-cylinder engine and hydrostatic all-wheel drive, was launched by Ransomes for municipal, grounds care and landscaping duties. A versatile machine with a centre-pivoting articulating frame and integrated weight transfer traction control, this tractor can be matched to 16 front-mounted attachments. With the optional dual wheel kit, it will operate on slopes of up to 30 degs. An optional digital slope indicator with warning light is also available.

Ransomes managing director Alan Prickett said: "The Ventrac tractor is a fantastic addition to our product offering. The range and diversity of the attachments is vast and will provide customers with much more flexibility and choice." The attachments include aerators, trencher, tiller, stump grinder, rakes, bucket, mower, blower, edger, blade, broom and spreader.

A new compact tractor featured on John Deere's stand as the company introduced its 2R Series to improve productivity in grounds care. Features include CommandCut mid-mounted rotary mower deck with accurate cutting height adjustment at the turn of a dial and nudge of a lever.

"Our customers are looking for efficient, durable and easy-to-use solutions that allow them to do more work in less time with less effort," said John Deere compact utility tractor product marketing manager Jared Lowe. "When designing the 2R Series we focused on improving stability, comfort and implement attachability to meet these needs."

In other tractor news, Kukje Machinery of South Korea has appointed the Compact Tractor Centre (CTC) in Warwickshire as sole UK importer and distributor for Branson Tractors and responsible for appointing dealerships nationwide. CTC now has the UK stockholding of a complete range of spare parts, with backing of a larger stock in mainland Europe.

Still on tractors, and with local authorities and contractors in mind, a new compact unit was introduced by Multihog. The CX is a narrow-chassis machine with pivot steer design for manoeuvrability, featuring both mechanical and hydraulic power take-off functionality at the front and rear.

The CX is available with 55hp and 75hp Kohler Tier IV Final engines and benefits from hydraulic flow of up to 100 litres per minute. At the show it was matched to the newly developed triple-gang Multi-Mower attachment that switches between flail or cylinder mowing and scarifying.

Transporting staff, tools and equipment was a major topic at Saltex, with several companies highlighting utility vehicles. Among the latest introductions displayed by Ransomes was the Hauler Pro-X. With a truck-inspired design, it has a 72V AC electric drive that can go up to 50 miles on a single charge and gives full-time regenerative braking, redirecting energy back into the vehicle's batteries whenever the brakes are applied.

Designed for grounds applications, Haulers are available with a 340-litre capacity roto-moulded polyethylene bed that incorporates divider slots for organisation along with tie-down points and D-rings. "The new Cushman Hauler range is the result of a lot of research into the requirements of greenkeeping and grounds care professionals," said Ransomes product manager Richard Tyrrell. "The functionality and design of the vehicles have been well thought out and the feedback we have received has been overwhelmingly positive."

John Deere also brought a new utility to the show, the Gator XUV 590i crossover utility vehicle with petrol twin-cylinder engine and independent four-wheel suspension. More than 75 attachments are offered for the vehicle and a four-seater version is also available.

  • For more on latest horticultural machinery with reviews, buyers guides and market reports, go to our Products & Kit page

Modern mowers

Mowing makes up a big chunk of grounds care so it is not surprising that Saltex saw the introduction of several new models, covering areas from large open spaces and rough terrain to smaller formal lawns. Reesink was back with a variation of the Toro LT-F3000 ride-on flail triple mower introduced last year, now carrying the option to switch to cylinders. While the flail units will cut longer, wetter and coarser grass in one sweep, changing to the cylinders means the same power unit can be used where first-class presentation is important.

"Toro understands that the grounds care sector has many different areas and challenging environments to cut, from the widest open spaces to the narrowest verges, and roadsides with longer grass to recreational fields with shorter grass," said Reesink national sales manager Jeff Anguige. "Having a mower than can, with easy attachment of a cylinder unit, tackle the longer grass and then leave a premium finish on playing fields and sports grounds is a really cost-effective solution."

Cut and collect was the theme on Gianni Ferrari's stand as the Italian mower manufacturer introduced the Turbo 4 Fifty. It was shown with massive 1,400-litre capacity collector, boasting a 2.3m dump height, new collecting turbine with increased air flow and the option to disengage the collecting turbine so the power unit can be used with non-collecting attachments.

At least two companies were displaying solutions for mowing on challenging slopes. PSD Grounds Care showed the 90cm AS 940 Sherpa while Etesia offered the 85cm Attila SKD (see video above) with dual wheels for extra stability. But both have a twist. Drivable as normal ride-on rough cut mowers or brushcutters, they can be dismounted and operated from a safe distance when the slopes are too perilous for the operator - the Sherpa via remote control and the Attila via a Bluetooth tablet.

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