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Equipment just made for the job

Steve Burgess demonstrates an Italian-made XB40 walk- behind multi-purpose tractor.
Steve Burgess demonstrates an Italian-made XB40 walk- behind multi-purpose tractor. Peter And Bevly Hughes

ONE of the many problems facing landholders wishing to carry out small farming operations is choice of equipment, tools and other essential gear.

Steve Burgess from the Mary Valley Country Harvest Cooperative said that most equipment appeared to be made for the larger landholder.

"It is often not just having a scaled down version of a large machine," he said. "It needs to be designed specifically for use in smaller spaces and able to be handled easily."

One such piece of equipment was demonstrated at a recent field day. The walk-behind tractor is popular in many overseas countries and has attachments for a wide range of uses.

The Italian-built XB40 was fitted with a rotary spade cultivator, in which a spade rotates slowly to cultivate the soil.

Mr Burgess said this equipment did not damage the soil and did not form a hard pan that often developed at the depth of a rotary hoe.

The XB40 does include a rotary hoe in its attachment list, along with other cultivators, pumps flail mowers, potato lifters, plus many more. There is even a machine attachment that makes round hay or silage bales that are about a 10th the size of regular bales.

The handles on the XB40 can be offset or rotated 180 degrees, depending on the equipment.

The machine has independent brakes that are also used for steering, diff lock, adjustable height handlebars, three-speed gears and a hand brake.

A safety device that requires the clutch to be held when the machine is in action acts as a "dead man's switch".

Mr Burgess said that no matter what equipment was used for cultivation the soil had to be in the right condition, otherwise a lot of damage to structure could be done.

Irrigation is an essential for small farm operations and Mr Burgess detailed some of the cheap options available.

He said the use of permanent trickle tape, drippers or micro sprinklers reduced water usage and saved time, as well as using less water in relation to crop production.

There is a wide range of low pressure equipment available but all require a clean, preferably filtered, water supply.

"Dirty water will block micro outlets," Mr Burgess said.

"Time spent cleaning and loss of production will quickly be repaid by a good filter system."

He said that flow rate monitors were useful for accurately knowing how much water was actually being applied.

Topics:  farm products