Deutz-Fahr among the leeks
Gourmet Blueberries was established in the Hawke’s Bay back in 2000 and has gone on to cover 79ha of the increasingly popular crop, producing over 600 tonnes annually and providing employment for up to 700 workers. With the blueberry harvest taking place from November to March, the company was looking for a crop to grow in the “off-season” and to also retain its 100 or so key staff members.
The Leek Division, based in Hastings, now covers 14ha and produces 1.2 million leeks annually, for export to the Japanese market. A key part of the operation falls to a Deutz-Fahr 5105.G tractor that arrived on the farm nine months ago and quickly become a firm favourite with the team.
Maintenance and Assets Manager for Gourmet Blueberries, Phil Orviss explains, “Up until the Deutz-Fahr arrived we somehow managed with some well past their use by date tractors, so its arrival has made life much easier and more productive.”
Set up on row crop wheel and tyre equipment to work between and over the beds, the tractor spends the early part of the season ‘moulding’ soil over the lower part of the plant to promote the white flesh, during the growing season carrying out spraying duties and the latter part powering the all-important harvester.
Powered by a Tier4 iFarMotion engine the gutsy four-cylinder pushes out a useful 102hp and 408Nm torque. Mated to a 40 forward/40 reverse speed transmission, the tractor also incorporates a clutch-less wet shuttle system for forward and reverse direction changes, a 2-stage (Hi-Lo) PowerShift and the clever Stop and Go function. This latter feature means that once moving the tractor can be brought to a stop by just pressing the brake pedal, then moving off again once the pedal is released.
Grown in 1.8 metre beds, with two rows of leeks in each, sandy soils are preferred but the ability to keep moving in poor conditions is paramount, as leeks are only harvested against firm orders. This means that the tractor is in the paddock at harvest time for a minimum of three days each week, but gets the job done, courtesy of its 4WD system and 100% locking differential systems.
During harvest, the harvester is carried by the 3600kg capacity three-point linkage that works in conjunction with the hydraulic system which has a combined output of up to 95 litres/min. Typically travelling at 1.5kph, the picking arm is offset and runs forward down the right side of the tractor, using a twin belt system to “pull” the leeks by the green portion of the plant. From here, it is conveyed to the main part of the harvester where any loose soil is shaken away.
Orviss notes, “The operator praises the visibility forwards and down to the picking head and also rearwards to keep an eye on the two sorters on the machine, making sure they are safe at all times.”
Additionally, he also notes that the driver is free from dust, spray residues and of course, protected from inclement weather.
Summing up the Deutz-Fahr, Orviss says, “We are extremely pleased with the tractors performance and equally that of the dealer, Power Farming Hawke’s Bay. At the time of purchase, we contacted several different dealers selling different brands, many who failed to respond. We decided to go with Deutz-Fahr and Power Farming Hawke’s Bay and have been delighted.”
Written by Mark Daniel