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A combination of Kubota tractors and out-front mowers have been selected for all grass-cutting work carried out by Maidstone Borough Services.

The department was previously responsible for carrying out just 30 per cent of the grass cutting for the Kent council.

After being awarded the entire contract, covering eight parks and other open spaces as well as grass verges in the town and surrounding rural areas, the six mowing teams required an additional tractor plus efficient ride-on mowers.

Maidstone Borough Services was already using a 57hp Kubota ME5700 tractor but a larger machine was needed to tow heavy-duty equipment, including a seven wrap-round trailed gang mower for grass cutting in large fields and open spaces.

The department had seven manufacturers’ tractors on demonstration before opting for the Kubota M8540.

The 85hp M8540 is claimed to make light work of hauling heavy-duty equipment including the gang mower and offers durability, fuel economy and reliability.

It features Kubota’s latest Tier III compliant, four-cylinder C-CDIS (centre direct injection system) turbo-charged engine, hydraulic shuttle and maximum speed of 40kmh.

Creep speed, Autohitch and hydraulic trailer braking are standard, as is a factory-fitted air-conditioned cab.

Both tractors pull trailers filled with soil, bark and small pieces of equipment and work with a wide range of attachments including flail units, chains, harrows, spikers and slitters used in ground renovation work.

Maidstone Borough Services also bought five 36hp F3680 F Series Kubota diesel out-front professional mowers to handle all of the close grass cutting.

‘In addition to needing additional mowers, we decided to switch from cylinder to rotary versions as I believe they do a better job,’ said Darren Rouse, grounds maintenance contracts supervisor.

As with the tractor purchase, Rouse looked at offerings from several manufacturers before opting for the Kubota mowers.

The F3680 mower is powered by Kubota’s E-TVCS water-cooled diesel engine, providing low levels of noise, exhaust emissions and fuel consumption.

Drive to the wheels is through a heavy-duty, two-range hydrostatic transmission system, giving infinitely variable speeds of up to 20kmh (12.4mph) forward and 11kmh (7mph) in reverse.

It is equipped with Auto Assist 4WD.

Working in both forward and reverse, this allows the rear wheels to free wheel when turning, giving a reduced turning circle and minimising scuffing of the turf.

When the turn is completed, four-wheel drive is restored to give optimum grip.

‘The mowers, like the tractors, are reliable and give a better cut during dry periods when there are weeds and seed heads to cut,’ said Rouse.

‘They are also suitable for cutting in areas that have been reinstated after the utilities have finished their work.

‘Because they cut higher than a cylinder mower, they do not cause any damage.

‘The power steering lets us cut around obstacles such as fencing posts and trees.

‘Being so compact they are good for verge cutting and are towed to site on trailers.

‘We do 14 cuts throughout the season and there was no need for them to be fitted with grass collectors,’ he added.

All of the Kubota machines were bought from the Ashford branch of Kubota Groundcare equipment dealer, Lister Wilder.

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