Thursday, January 9, 2014

Building Unity Farm - Thinking about Automation

Every year at Unity Farm, I move 10000 pounds of manure, 10000 pounds of logs (18 inch segments), 10000 pounds of wood chips, and thousands of pounds of snow.    I've done this to date using a hand cart and wheelbarrow.    I turn 52 in a few months and its time for automation.

But, what's the ideal device?   We have hills, forests, meadows, mud, ice, and grass.

A tractor such as the Kubota B3200HSD seems reasonable with industrial R4 tires that provide traction without too much damage to underlying soil.   John Deere offers a competitive model of tractor, the 3032E.

However, many of the trails at Unity Farm are narrow and the manure access is via a crusher rock access path about 5 feet wide.  Are there alternatives?

Many have recommended a compact track loader such as the Bobcat T110.

Others have recommended the Terex PT30

Track loaders provide maneuverability and good hill climbing capabilities, but they can be rough on grass.

My answer - I have to experiment with each machine.    Since they vary in price from $16000 to $25000 (0% financing for 5 years may be available), it's best if I "test drive" them.

For $200 per day, I can rent these devices from local dealers.   I can move manure, wood, rocks, and mulch.   I can run them up and down hills in a variety of conditions.

To me, the device design/engineering is important but access to dealer service is also critical.

The Kubota/Terex dealer is 12 miles away.  The Bobcat dealer is 35 miles away.   The John Deere dealer is 35 miles away.

I'll report back on my experiments with moving, hauling, and transporting around Unity Farm.   I welcome input from others on comparing Kubota, John Deere, Bobcat and Terex.


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