Finding a tractor that is compact and manoeuvrable enough to work around livestock buildings yet powerful and capable enough to operate demanding implements in the field is the challenge faced by mixed farms across the land.
As Cornish farmer Giles Maddever is discovering it is a role that is being fully embraced and accomplished by his Kubota M128GX-II.
Waylands Farm, between Looe and Polperro, is run alongside his father Geoffrey’s Hall Barton Farm at nearby Pelynt. Both farms have been in the family since the 1930s.
The family has 200ha between the two farms, which underwent organic conversion in 2000 and main enterprises are beef, sheep and cereals.
“Crops are grown as part of the organic rotation, and include oats for Jordans Cereals,” explains Giles.
With the land split 50/50 between arable and pasture, some hilly terrain and west country’s famously high rainfall, it’s a demanding job for any tractor.
The 126hp M128GX-II is required for daily feeding and mucking out around the yard but also pulls a five furrow Vogel and Noot plough, plus a 3m Lemken Terradisc when establishing crops.
“There aren’t many tractors that are equally adept at both yard and fieldwork,” reflects Giles. “I can feed up in the morning and then put the plough on and go to work with confidence and in comfort.”
He adds that he and his father agree that the Kubota has the best cab they’ve ever experienced on a tractor.
“When you are feeding, you often need someone with you to open the gates etc, and with the spacious cab and dedicated passenger seat there’s plenty of room for both to ride in comfort.”
The large glass area of the four-pillar cab also comes in for praise, as Giles adds: “There’s no pillar on the side window, so you have an unrestricted view.”
A third hydraulic service has been added for the plough and for a powered post driver, and he comments that hydraulic implements work very well.
However, he points to the simplicity of the controls a being a major factor in how convenient the tractor is to use in the field.
“It’s much better thought out than our previous tractors, and there’s no need to reset the hydraulics after stopping or fiddle with countless buttons. I find that it handles the implements better too – there’s no shortage of grip or power.”
The 24×24 transmission, with three ranges and eight Intellishifts in each, has also found favour, as Giles comments: “I wondered if it was a bit too simple at first, but the eight shifts in each gear mean that you can do most jobs in one gear without changing it. The electronic shuttle is also very smooth, which is essential for a loader tractor.”
He suggests that real benefit is gained by the use of Kubota’s own designed and built LA2254 loader.
“It’s very evident that it is purpose-designed for the M128GX – they fit together extremely well, and the tractor is very stable with the loader on. The loader itself is really strong – Kubota’s heritage in construction equipment certainly shows.”
In winter, the loader stays on the tractor most of the time, but in summer Giles says that it is a two-minute job to drop it off when heading out to the field.
“The loader control is also neatly integrated into the console, and is very easy to use while driving the tractor.”
With some heavy implements to lift, the strength and 6100kg lift capacity of the M128GX were a big selling point. It is also shod on 520/70 R38 tyres, which Giles describes as a ‘nice all round tyre, without being too wide for ploughing’.
Kubota’s unique switchable bi-speed turn facility, which speeds up the inside front wheel when on a turn has also come in handy for quicker headland turns on fieldwork.
The deal was sealed by the five-year warranty and competitive price offered by Giles local Kubota dealer Vincent Tractors.
“We already had a relationship with Vincents and it’s nice to work with a traditional family dealership. They provide an excellent service.”
Giles aims to keep the tractor for the 3000-hour term of the warranty, but comments that he has another tractor lined up for replacement before that and Kubota is certainly in the frame.
“It really is the perfect all-rounder, combining simplicity with capability and comfortable enough to work in all day,” he concludes.