FARMBOSS II is coming !!!!!!
There are plenty of options when it comes to choosing a farm buggy (aka utility vehicle) – and that's before debating the merits of different fuels.
By and large, farmers and gamekeepers using utility ATVs opt for the convenience and economy of a diesel engine. Generous torque helps when it comes to carrying a load of bales or fencing stakes and equipment in the cargo box, pulling a trailer laden with sheep or towing a livestock feeder.
The lively response that comes from tweaking the throttle of a petrol-fuelled quad is less of a priority - utility ATVs used on the farm or in woodland are, after all, pure working machines.
Put them on a smooth track or in road-legal form on the highway, though, and these vehicles can gather a fair pace. JCB's 6x4 Workmax may be a bit steady at 29kph but the new 800 D model, the New Holland Rustler, MF20D, Cub Cadet Big Country, John Deere HPX Gator, Kubota RTV900 and Kioti Mechron can all match the 40kph which most tractors are capable of these days.
Some will out-pace them – including the Bobcat 3500D with its 48kph top speed, the John Deere XUV 855D (52kph) and Polaris Ranger Diesel (56kph).
The Ausa Task 50D tops the lot, however, with its 60kph top speed. It is helped along the way, presumably, by having the largest-capacity engine and the equal highest power output (with the JCB Workmax 1000 D) in this company.
Steering weight will not be an issue at anything close to these speeds but turning the wheel is bound to need a bit more muscle when trundling around yards or rough tracks. The electric power steering option on the Workmax 1000 will help; but JCB reckons the lighter 800 D really does not need it.
It can help, of course, to be able to disengage drive to the front wheels, which is only needed to get out of trouble in the most challenging conditions.
All but the MF20D/Cub Cadet have this facility among the four-wheel drive models; the Workmax 6x4 has no front drive anyway.
In the transmission department, the Kubota RTV900 remains unique in using hydrostatic drive through a three-range gearbox; all the others have either single- or two-speed CVT. Both forms give easy press-and-go driving characteristics.
Nipping across a road from one field to the next hardly calls for major road-worthiness equipment, but anything more than that clearly does - which is why most UTVs now come with road-legal kit, either as standard, which is reflected in the asking price, or as an add-on option.
Kioti importer Reco is one of the latest suppliers to offer this facility. The Mechron 2210 is largely unchanged from the off-road-only 2200, except for the installation of turn indicators, rear lights, a horn, seat belts, registration plate mountings and tax disc holder, all to the correct automotive requirements.
It costs another £795 over the standard machine; John Deere charges £626 for a kit to make the HPX Gator Diesel road-legal and £886 to give the XUV 855D the same treatment.
Generous load deck apart, one of the biggest attractions of the farm buggy is the accommodation it provides for a passenger - or two at a pinch when a bench seat is fitted – when heading out to tackle a task needing more than one pair of hands.
For commercial shoots and other situations where more people need to be transported, the multi-seat UTV is worth considering.
There are now two such machines available with diesel power - the four-seater Kawasaki Mule 4010 Trans Diesel and the six-seater Polaris Ranger Crew Diesel.
The Ranger newcomer is powered by the same 904cc Yamaha diesel engine with 24hp output as used in the regular version, together with the two-speed CVT drive and selectable automatic two- and four-wheel drive.
Adjustable "A" arm suspension all round helps maintain a comfortable ride when empty or fully laden with six people, and electronic power steering makes life easier at the helm.
While the Ranger is a permanent six-seater with a 453kg capacity tipping load box behind, the Kawasaki Mule is a dual-purpose machine.
It can operate as a two-seat vehicle with a 1280mm long, half tonne capacity tipping cargo box or as a four-seater with the cargo box reconfigured to shorten it so that the rear bench backrest can be raised out of its stowed position.