A combination of Kubota tractors and out-front mowers have been chosen for all the grass cutting work carried out by Maidstone Borough Services.
The department was previously responsible for carrying out just 30 per cent of the grass cutting for the Kent council. After being awarded the entire contract, covering eight parks and other open spaces plus grass verges in the town and surrounding rural areas, the six mowing teams required an additional tractor as well as efficient ride-on mowers.
Maidstone Borough Services was already using a 57hp Kubota ME5700 tractor but a larger machine was needed to tow heavy duty equipment, including a seven wrap-round trailed gang mower for grass cutting in large fields and open spaces.
Grounds Maintenance Contracts Supervisor Darren Rouse said: "We had seven manufacturers' tractors on demonstration before opting for the Kubota M8540. It was decidedly faster than the rest and came out on top overall."
The 85hp M8540 makes light work of hauling heavy duty equipment including the gang mower and combines exceptional durability, superb fuel economy and excellent reliability.
It features Kubota's latest Tier III compliant, 4 cylinder C-CDIS (centre direct injection system) turbo charged engine, hydraulic shuttle and maximum speed of 40km/h. Creep speed, Autohitch and hydraulic trailer braking are standard, as is a factory fitted air conditioned cab.
Both tractors pull trailers filled with soil, bark and small pieces of equipment and work with a wide range of attachments including flail units, chains, harrows, spikers and slitters used in ground renovation work.
Maidstone Borough Services also bought five 36hp F3680 F Series Kubota diesel out-front professional mowers to handle all of the close grass cutting.
"In addition to needing additional mowers, we decided to switch from cylinder to rotary versions as I believe they do a better job," said Mr Rouse.
As with the tractor purchase, he looked at offerings from several manufacturers before opting for the Kubota mowers."They have the type of rotary cutting deck we wanted and deliver all the power to do the job well. The fact that Kent County Council uses them gave us added confidence in the brand and, because we operate within tough monetary guidelines, their competitive price was quite an attraction."
The F3680 is powered by Kubotaís unique E-TVCS water-cooled diesel engine, renowned for its low levels of noise, exhaust emissions and fuel consumption, making it among the quietest and most cost-effective mower in its class.
Drive to the wheels is through a heavy duty, two-range hydrostatic transmission system, giving infinitely variable speeds of up to 20km/h (12.4mph) forward and 11km/h (7mph) in reverse.
It is equipped with Auto Assist 4WD. Working in both forward and reverse, this allows the rear wheels to free wheel when turning, giving a reduced turning circle and minimising scuffing of the turf. When the turn is completed, four-wheel drive is restored to give optimum grip.
"The mowers, like the tractors, are very reliable and give a better cut during dry periods when there are weeds and seed heads to cut," said Mr Rouse. "They are also ideal for cutting in areas that have been reinstated after the utilities have finished their work. Because they cut higher than a cylinder mower they do not cause any damage.
"The power steering is a big advantage and lets us cut around obstacles such as fencing posts and trees with ease. Being so compact they are ideal for verge cutting, and are towed to site on trailers. Because we do 14 cuts throughout the season there was no need for them to be fitted with grass collectors."
All of the Kubota machines were bought from the Ashford branch of Kubota Groundcare equipment dealer, Lister Wilder.
"Lister Wilder gives us a first class level of after-sales care, with their mechanics coming out to us to do all the service work when itís due," said Mr Rouse.
Kubota Tractor & Groundcare Division has remained at the forefront of the UK and Ireland market for compact tractors and diesel ride-on mowers for the last 30 years. And, in addition to providing the class-leading RTV900 all-terrain utility vehicle, Kubota is also the global leader in the sub 50hp tractor sector.