Small tractor handling big workload now available at Agrimark
Posted on: 9 October 2023 Written by: Danie Keet
Agrimark recently celebrated its first sale of the VST tractor. This award-winning tractor range from India is now available at select branches in the Western Cape.
“If you want to farm optimally and economically, one of the major influences on the success of your operation is the use of the right equipment for the specific tasks at hand. That is the main reason why we decided to buy the VST tractor, which has proven to be the perfect answer for our needs.”
This is how Paul Treuchert, of the farm Straatskerk Farming Enterprises in the Tulbagh district, described the main reason for his purchase of the VST Fieldtrac 180D tractor. Straatskerk became the first farming enterprise and account holder to purchase a VST tractor from Agrimark since the product range was launched a few months ago.
The farm has awesome views of the surrounding Witzenberg Mountains. Farming on approximately 350 ha, they use the farm to raise cattle and they plant wheat, oats, and maize as feed for the herds.
According to Paul, he and his partner, Barnard van Eeden, needed a tractor to do the daily chores on the farm where they breed Black Angus cattle for the meat market.
“Because we farm on a relatively small scale in comparison to other farmers in the area, we did not need a big, expensive tractor. Barnard already has some of those huge tractors, but for our purposes here, it would have been unnecessary to spend a lot of money on another big one,” he joked.
Paul explained that he used to farm on a small piece of land nearby. With the drought of 2018, however, he had to either reduce the 30 head of cattle he had at the time or find additional land to give them more grazing options. He had met Barnard before and together they had a look at this land and decided to become business partners. Now they have approximately 350 ha and they raise 300 head of cattle for the local meat market.
”We have bulls with the cows all year round and therefore we can determine when we want to sell some of our stock,” he explained.
“We decided that we needed an affordable utility vehicle for the new section that our workers could use for a variety of tasks, but it also needed to be economical. This tractor met all our requirements,” he said with a broad smile.
“I saw an advert for the tractor in the MARKtoe! magazine and I called Agrimark in Ceres. I also had discussions with the Agrimark Mechanisation staff and decided that this one was the answer to our needs. I asked them to bring it to the farm where we hooked it up to the trailer and took it for a drive through the mud. It performed well. We showed it to our two drivers and explained what it can and cannot do and they were both happy with it – the smiles on their faces said it all, ” Paul said.
Paul explained that the tractor they needed would be used for distributing hay bales to the cattle on the farm, moving irrigation pipes and carting equipment around for the upkeep of fences and other general maintenance tasks on the land. These hay bales weigh approximately 2 tonnes, but Paul was not in the least surprised when he saw with what ease the tractor moved the bales around on their trailer.
“Because the tractor is 4-wheel drive we regarded it as ideal for the really muddy areas on the farm, for which we needed a vehicle that would be strong enough to handle those difficult conditions. We did consider using a quad bike, like many farmers do these days, but after weighing up the pros and cons it was clear that we would get more use from the VST Compact Tractor than a quad. Quads are more expensive to run and don’t have all the features and functions of these tractors which sport a PTO, three-point lift and basic instrumentation, making them easy and affordable to run.”
Hannes Smit, Senior Manager: Procurement, explained that these tractors are bought in South Africa directly from the importer, ETG Logistics Group. Agrimark realised that there is a big demand for a small, tough, reliable, and strong tractor at an affordable price among local producers of various crops.
“In India, you see these tractors around every corner. The work that those local farmers manage to get done with them is just mind-blowing. Our present supplier of tractors does not have something similar in their range and we mutually agreed that the VST Compact Tractor fills a large gap in our market,” he said.
“A number of producers and boutique farmers who farm with berries, dairy, stems for grape vines, and others in the fruit industry, expressed a need for a small tractor that could fit between their narrow rows and even inside tunnels where their products are grown,” Hannes explained earnestly.
The tractors are on display at 15 selected Agrimark retail branches which are supported by 10 Agrimark Mechanisation branches with spares and after-sales service, including the full warranty.
“The VST tractor is robust and does not have any complicated electronic or digital systems which makes it an ideal vehicle for small-scale producers. Even so, it has all the mechanical features of large tractors, including 4x4 options, a PTO, power steering and a very strong hydraulic lifting capacity with its three-point lifting system. The tractors can be serviced at any one of our dedicated service branches,” he concluded.
Paul agreed and reiterated that one has to decide what you need the tractor for. If it is for small tasks needing 4x4 assistance, a bit of tilling, spraying or mowing of grass pastures, this compact workhorse is ideal.
“We use the tractor towing a small tank (500 litres) with a 6 m boom to spray weeds along our perimeter fences and it is more than capable of doing that job. The onboard hydraulics is strong enough. For someone on a smallholding, this is the ideal vehicle, mainly due to its versatility and economic operating cost,” Paul stated.
“Due to its size, it is also very easy to transport. We park it along with its trailer inside a container at night or when not in use. I have a small bakkie and now a small tractor – I am very happy. It is the right equipment for a small-scale farmer.”
According to Hein Kruger, Technical Sales Representative for Agrimark Mechanisation Ceres, who sold the first VST Tractor, the VST Compact tractor is unique in the sense that it won the prestigious Indian Tractor of the Year (ITOTY) award 2023 for the best tractor under 20 horsepower and it is the first of its size within Agrimark’s range of farming equipment.
“It is easier for me to present this new tractor to our customers, in this case Paul and Barnard, who were existing Agrimark customers. We have been looking at this market segment for a while as producers farming on a small scale and in certain sectors of the farming industry have indicated that they need a small tractor that can fit between the rows of, for instance, blueberry orchards, inside horse stables with narrow doors, for nurseries and alleyways and inside cultivation tunnels for vegetables and other crops,” he said.
“The manoeuvrability of the VST tractors is probably the main benefit, along with its small size. They can even be used inside chicken runs on large chicken farms. Most farmers also have gardens, use irrigation and have to check their fences from time to time. These tractors are ideal for those relatively small tasks,” according to Hein.
“After thorough market research, we were fortunate to find this small tractor that is ideal for our conditions. The tractor can be used for a variety of functions and has many benefits, including affordability, versatility, and manoeuvrability,” according to Hein.
“Our Mechanisation division allows us to provide professional support to our customers. The fact that ETG Logistics, the company that imports the tractors, is based in South Africa, makes service or repairs in one of our workshops easier. We have a strategic partnership with them and we also see to it that parts are readily available,” he explained confidently.
Willie Fortuin, Branch Manager at Agrimark Mechanisation Ceres, said he is also excited about the new addition to their range of tractors.
“Agrimark is the sole distributor of these tractors in the Western Cape and this has opened a new market segment for us that we can grow, thus providing even better service to our customers.”
“Paul said he will test the fuel efficiency for us under working conditions and it would be interesting to see how many hours can be run on the 18 litre diesel tank, but we know it will be very economical. Our technicians have received training in both the operation and maintenance of these tractors, and we are ready to expand this new range of high quality, versatile and economical farming equipment for our customers,” Hein said.
The Agrimark branches will display the tractors at most of their outlets and sales will be handled in cooperation with the 10 mechanisation service centres in towns like Vredendal, Graafwater, Porterville, Moorreesburg, Malmesbury, Paarl, Ceres, Worcester, Robertson, Caledon and Bredasdorp.