Their small size, combined with the long list of equipment they are capable of powering, makes two-wheel tractors appropriate for use in all sectors of horticulture. Use them for mowing, baling, chipping, shredding, cultivating, sweeping, aeration or scarifying — the choice of attachments is vast. And with models as narrow as 50cm in width, there are machines perfect for accessing the most awkward of entrances or working in the most confined of spaces.
In commercial horticulture, the dimensions and agility of two-wheel tractors can be used to bring mechanisation into glasshouses or polytunnels. Their size also puts them in an envious position when it comes to garden construction and maintenance. Hitch up a seat and a trailer, and the “walking” tractor becomes a “riding” tractor for transporting tools and materials across larger gardens, parks and estates. But one of the most popular applications for these power units is in conservation work, where their muscle and light footprint prove suited to work in sensitive habitats or on difficult terrains.
Getting the most out of your kit
Often it is the problems presented by one particular operation that initially makes a would-be purchaser consider buying a two-wheel tractor. But check out the rest of the equipment that is available. Could you use a woodchipper? What about sweeping driveways? Maybe you need to power a water pump? The list of jobs you could take on in the future can easily expand when you choose the right tractor unit. And you can add to your collection of attachments as need or opportunity arises.
A tractor is an expensive purchase so be sure of selecting the most appropriate one. You need to consider the type of sites you currently work and what others you might want to work in the future. How and where you envisage using the two-wheeler now, and tomorrow, will determine the size of machine and the most suitable power.
The choice of engine brand and horsepower is huge — from three horsepower up to 20hp. The physical size of the machine is also important. The machine must be capable of accessing and working your sites but must have sufficient power to run the attachments required. You also need to decide whether petrol or diesel engines are most suitable and match the drive and gear options to your needs. Check out the wheel and tyre options that are available when you are considering the typical site conditions you expect to encounter.
With all machinery it is best to see a demonstration in a situation similar to your own. That way you can judge aspects such as traction and manoeuvrability. It also gives you the chance to look at the ease of use and the process involved in changing the attachment. The importance of operator comfort should never be underestimated and all machinery should be inspected for safety. Make sure the tractor and attachments all have CE markings. Data should always be supplied concerning levels of noise and vibration.
Developments continue to make two-wheel tractors simpler to operate yet ever more versatile. One of the most recent models to come to market is the Rapid Universo, offered in the UK by Rekord Sales of Mancetter in Warwickshire. Introduced last spring, the Universo is seen as setting new standards in the single-axle market. It has hydrostatic drive to do away with the need for coupling, switching and braking. It will power attachments at their optimum speed, regardless of the speed of the machine. But the most innovative benefit is seen in the active steering.
Normally when a two-wheel tractor is swapped between mowing and cultivation work, the handlebars have to be swung through 180? and the majority of controls are then on the opposite side to where they were, and concentration and dexterity become even more essential. With the Universo, however, the operating elements remain the same regardless of the position of the handlebars. Changing from one attachment or implement to another is also simple and quick.
Working outdoors, in all weathers and often under extreme conditions, means the tractor and associated equipment ranges need to be rugged and durable. Remember to check out the availability of spare parts, dealer back-up and the terms and conditions of warranty.
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