Fergie shines berry bright

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Strawberry farmer Ray Daniels has nothing but praise for his new purchases - the Massey Ferguson GC1705 compact tractors.

Fergie shines berry bright
Sunray Strawberrries' Ray Danniels is all praise for his Massey Ferguson GC1705 compact tractors.

There’s no way you could describe Ray Daniels as a hobby farmer.

Daniels owns Sunray Strawberries, a booming business based at Wamuran, near Caboolture, on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast.

He has operated the 100-hectare property for almost 20 years, last year sending 1.7 million kilograms of strawberries to markets across Queensland and New South Wales with the help of a peak seasonal workforce of up to 250 people.

He has also recently opened a second 26ha strawberry farm at Myponga, on the Fleurieu Peninsula south of Adelaide, which will boost output even further.

The Wamuran property is a highly sophisticated operation, with advanced use of technology and computerised communication and production systems.

Daniels recently purchased two Massey Ferguson GC1705 compact tractors to add to his busy machinery fleet.

The tractors were part of the GC1700 compact tractor range released by Massey Ferguson in Australia earlier this year.

"We have about 24 tractors in our fleet, ranging from 20hp, up to 220hp," Daniels says.

"We use them for weigh stations, for weighing and packing strawberries in the field."

Daniels has devised a weigh station that fits to the back of the small tractor, standing nearly 2m tall with a roof and sides.

"We put a hydraulic drop link on them to adjust the scale forwards and backwards," he says.

"On the drop arm, we fit a hydraulic ram so we can tilt it sideways – that means we can level the scale in any direction to weigh the fruit.

"They come with a joystick control and we basically plumb the hoses directly into the remotes.

"We bought the Massey Ferguson’s for the weigh stations and for mowing the headlands.

"Having the joystick control there for the loader attachment allowed us to plumb straight up with very little other expenditure."

Daniels also liked the Massey Ferguson’s engine configuration for mowing, as the fan keeps all the grass from being thrown into the radiator.

"I liked their ground clearance and the fact they had the remotes already on them – they are very easy to operate," he says.

The four-wheel drive GC1705 is powered by a 1.1-litre, 3 cylinder 16.8kW liquid-cooled diesel engine.

The 650kg machine features hydrostatic steering, wet disc brakes, two-post folding ROPS, independent power take-off and 17cm ground clearance.

Already popular with hobby farmers, landscapers, homeowners and residential contractors, the GC1705 is also proving its value on operations the size of Sunray Strawberries.

Daniels bought his new tractors from North Pine Motors, a Massey Ferguson and Iseki dealer in Petrie, north of Brisbane.

The company’s product line-up includes ride-on mowers, sub-compact and compact tractors, two and 4WD tractors, slashers, rotary hoes, agricultural implements and spray equipment.

North Pine Motor’s Darrel Montgomery says good service is vital in the dealer-customer relationship.

"[Ray] can ring me and ask for a part and I’ll jump in the ute and take it to him," Montgomery says.

"The GC1705 is a top little unit – I like the hydrostatic steering, the dual foot pedal is a big-selling feature and the fact they’re a Japanese build helps them sell.

"They have a good turning circle, good lift capacity in the front and their big hydraulic pumps mean the loader function is quite rapid compared with other brands.

"We probably sell more of them than anything else.

"Ray employs around 250 people in the peak of his season, so he’ll have numerous different operators on those tractors.

"He really needs something that’s full proof and solid."

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