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A compact tractor with a big heart

A compact tractor with a big heart: Massey Ferguson’s reputation for attention to detail, build quality and reliability is evident across its comprehensive line-up of agricultural tractors. Exactly the same approach has also been rigorously applied to its latest range of compact machines in the six-model MF 1700 S series – two of which are new introductions.

Powered by a range engine capacities of between 35hp and 67hp, with either three or four cylinders. the MF 1700 M is likely to appeal to a variety of users – farmers, smallholders, groundscare professionals, contractors and others.

A compact tractor with a big heart

A compact tractor with a big heart

One of the most important factors from an environmental angle is that each model in this new range is powered one of the latest Stage V-compliant engines, reducing still further their carbon footprint.

Versatility is the first word that springs to mind when describing the MF 1700 M range. Not far behind in the list of must-have qualities is the new HST transmission, which delivers precision control and a higher maximum speed, together with the new factory-fitted cab option.

The transmission uses a shuttle lever to control the tractor’s progress – as you would find on a normal agricultural tractor – simplifying the operating experience

Operator comfort and ease of operation were factors high on the list of design priorities for both the cab and platform versions – a tiltable steering column, easy access, air conditioning, heated rear window – and with ergonomically and logically-arranged controls, for example.

In addition, each model comes with a mechanically-suspended seat as standard, with pneumatic suspension available as an option. The operator’s working day can be enhanced considerably with the radio-ready pack – consisting of antenna and speaker – together with two USB sockets and storage space for a mobile phone.

All-round visibility has been maximised to enhance machine control in confined spaces and buildings with restricted headroom.

Like many of its bigger brothers, the MF 1700 M has an array of logically positioned controls, including the joystick – standard on cab models, but  available as an option on platform versions. This incorporates two levers to control rear spool valves, while the joystick itself controls the mid-mounted spool valves and the front loader, where specified.

First-time users have commented on the model’s smoothly efficient operation and it’s ability to access confined or restricted spaces. By the same token, they have been impressed by how readily it takes to field work when coupled with a range of implements – and, indeed, when in road transport mode. The sheer versatility is really underlined when specialist users take to the golf course for the intricacies of green mowing and maintenance.

The control procedure for the independent PTO is a new feature that further enhances the machine’s field of operation by allowing the operator to set different operating modes – normal, soft or automatic – to take account of which implement is being used and what the actual ground conditions dictate. There’s also an external PTO switch, located on the rear fender, for additional convenience of operation.

A pair of rear spool valves is included as standard specification, each of which is available with single- or double-acting operation, while activation can be locked using levers to ‘free-flow’ mode for ease of operation and enhanced efficiency.

Automatic four-wheel drive introduces a significant increase in the machine’s overall productivity – and, indeed, it’s safety. How it works is that as soon as the brake pedal is depressed, the system simultaneously switches from two-wheel drive to four, so applying the brake to all four wheels.

A hydrostatic speed control lever enables the operator to adjust the cruising speed while on the move. When engaged, the tractor works more efficiently while enhancing operator comfort.

Another simple, but highly-effective safety feature is PTO automatic mode. When engaged, the rear- or mid-PTO rotates while moving forward and stops when travelling in reverse – or when the tractor stops.

Other options on the MF 1700 M include front weights and air-suspension seats, together with a comprehensive choice of agricultural and larger turf tyres.

The MF 1735 M and MF 1740 M models can be ordered with new factory-fitted mower deck. Easy to mount, the deck is specified with three blades and is 60in wide, proving cutting heights of between 20mm and 115mm. The desired height can be set from the operator’s seat and is adjustable in eight steps. The new, larger tyres provide a ground clearance of 150mm.

Platform models benefit from foldable ROPS protection as standard and have the same operator controls as those versions fitted with cabs.

Massey Ferguson makes the point that the higher specifications found on its latest 1700 M tractors are part of the company’s on-going strategy of overall enhancement across its range of machines. This, the company states, means more models to suit the wider requirements and greater demands of more farmers and contractors.

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A Heart To Hart With David

A Heart To Hart With David: Turf Matters spoke exclusively with David Hart, Managing Director of Kubota UK and covered everything from demo lorries, structural changes, Brexit and calamatics…

When David Hart took over as Managing Director of Kubota UK just over a year ago there were two things at the top of his “To Do” list. One he wanted to get his feet under his new desk and two he wanted to make sure he got to know his new charge inside out.

A Heart To Hart With David

“I probably looked under every stone I possibly could, and spoke with everyone, so that I could get to know all aspects of the business,” said David who had previously enjoyed a stellar 28 year career at John Deere.

“It’s been a good year. It’s a cliché but a change is as good as a rest and while it is an industry which I know well there are elements of the Kubota business which have been new to me,” said David, referring to the engine and construction side of the Kubota business.

It was just in the summer of last year that David took up his new role but already he has a new job title to add to that of Managing Director – the impressive sounding Vice President for Business Transformation for Europe.

“It’s not a promotion. It’s an addition,” he explained.

“It’s on top of what I was already doing. Until a couple of years ago each country operated in a different manner.

Here in the UK we did certain things in a certain way; Germany did the same; France the same; Poland the same and so on. My new role is to bring some common structures in and processes to those different sales and marketing units.”

Having carried out structural changes in his pre-Kubota days it is a role ideally suited to him, as is steering his new staff through the changes which are inherent in a business which has grown from a staff of 88 ten years ago, based out of the headquarters at Thame in Oxfordshire. to over 140 now.

Asked about any significant changes which he has implemented since he joined David points to something which, in addition to its primary aim, has eased congestion on the UK’s motorway network as well as reducing the company’s carbon footprint.

“We’ve changed how we managed our demo operation. We used to have three articulated lorries which the demonstrators drove to their destinations. I thought we could used our time better and have those guys focusing on the demonstration rather than driving the trucks. So the trucks have gone giving us a £600,000 saving.

That’s among a few things which I have streamlined since I got here.”

Another area where David has aided the environment is in a significant reduction in his own airmiles.

“The nice thing for me is that I do less travelling because for 28 years I spent 26 weeks on the year travelling and taking around 52 flights a year,” explained David, who has only been to Kubota’s worldwide headquarters in Osaka, Japan, once since he took up his new role.

“We’ve had two of our senior management over to visit us and we showed them how we operated the business here in the UK but I think the nice thing is if our Japanese bosses are comfortable with what is going on they leave you to it.”

Looking forward David is concerned with how Brexit is going to impact upon the various areas in the Kubota business portfolio.

“My biggest concern is that, with or without a deal, it isn’t going to be good. We have already seen the construction market go soft because there has been no houses built in the last three months. Groundcare has also gone soft but that is partly because last year’s dry summer meant that dealers were left with a lot of stock.

“I’d say that one of the biggestconcerns is that we are no clearer today about what will happen than we were two and a half years ago. Let’s hope that the pessimists are wrong and the optimists are right and it’s just a blimp or turns out to be something like the Millennium Bug,” said David, in a pragmatic rather than negative tone.

Another area which has been impacted by Brexit uncertainty is recruitment.

“People keeping their powder dry at the moment. If they get the offer of a lifetime they might jump ship but otherwise they are going to stay were they are until they know what the future holds. We have got seven or eight vacancies at the moment and some of them we’ve had for more than a year.”

From the customer’s perspective they can look forward to a bolstering of some of the groundcare product with some additional lines in the near future.

“Hopefully, we’ll have a bit more product offering. Not of a big scale but complementary to what we already do. We have a few irons in the fire.”

Kubota have dipped their toe in the automomous mowing, with a product range currently available in France and on its way to these shores while calamatics is another area that will be becoming more prevalent in the next few years.

“Remote diagnostics mean that we are able to connect to customers equipment and make repairs or updates from a central point which means we will be able to react to customers’ needs much more quickly become even more efficient as a company.”

David has got much further down that original “To Do” list than even he had hoped and it augers well for not just the next 12 months but many more after that.