By Kathy Coatney
Kubota Tractor released its new M-Series tractor, the M8540 Power Krawler in California's grape country recently. The Power Krawler has several benefits. It has a rear crawler track, narrow cab, increased maneuverability and stability, and greater traction and floatation.
The M8540 is 54-inches wide, 138-inches long , and 92 inches tall for work in confined and narrow areas. It's powered with a four-cylinder 230-cubic inch turbocharged diesel engine and can be had with 12F/12R gearing through its synchronized four-speed transmission. The machine's turning radius is 13.1 feet.
Paul Williams, M-Series sales and managing product manager with Kubota Tractor says, the tracks give the M8540 higher traction and with less ground compaction that a comparable wheeled tractor.
The Power Krawler would be particularly useful for vineyards, tight-spaced orchards, or any operation that has a width issue, he adds.
Another benefit of Power Krawler is the track system is designed to operate just like a wheel tractor that would go over blacktop or cement without any damage.
The Power Krawler also has a better ride and less compaction. "A tire finds all the little nooks and crannies in a field, and the Krawler won't," Williams says, making for a smoother ride.
Davie Piña is the president and general manager of Piña Vineyard Management in Oakville, California. Piña's company ran the Power Krawler prototype extensively.
"We did mowing, we did rototilling, we did spraying, disking, chopping. We put every implement we had on it," Piña says, adding the Power Krawler worked well with all the implements.
"It's very stable, and it's very smooth. When you have four wheels, if you hit a rock, it kind of rocks the tractor," Piña says, but not with the Power Krawler.
This is because both crawlers on the Power Krawler oscillate independently, which means they can move over bumpy surfaces and keep both sides of the tractor in contact with the ground.
Piña has four regular track crawlers in his fleet that are used for steep hills and possible rollover situations. They're not very smooth riding, and there's a lot of maintenance to a steel track unit, he says.
"We could replace a lot of those track layers we use in the hills with this (Power Krawler) machine," Piña says.
Piña used the Power Krawler for a full year. "We put it through it's paces on every piece of equipment as we went through the year," he says, and it came through with flying colors.
The one disadvantage Piña found was the prototype didn't have a large enough fuel tank to run an entire day. "We had to fill it up towards the end of the day, and so we had asked them (Kubota) for a bigger fuel tank," he says, and the company responded by adding more fuel tanks.
The Power Krawler is currently available nationwide at any Kubota dealers. Growers can visit www.kubota.com to find a dealer near them.
- Kathy Coatney is a freelance writer from Corning, Calif.