Surrounded by World Heritage sites and unique floral diversity, De Rustica Olive Estate is situated deep in the picturesque Swartberg Mountains of the Southern Cape. While this sounds, and is, romantic the work on the farm is hard and challenging.

But it’s worth it,” says farm manager Joop Steenkamp. “We produce a world class product, which we are very proud of, in the best possible environment.

Producing quality olive oil

Producing quality olive oil is not a straightforward task. “It’s all about making the right choices from the smallest things to the biggest,” says Steenkamp, “and when it comes to tractors choosing Kubota has made a real difference to us.

De Rustica started with Kubota nearly three years ago. “We were looking for an efficient orchard tractor with a cab and Kubota was the only company in this region that had what we wanted. So we gave it a try and never looked back,” says Steenkamp.

Today De Rustica has five Kubota’s ranging in size. “They are great machines – very fuel efficient, reliable and, importantly, we get the best possible service from Carlu Trekkers, Kubota dealers in George. They go the extra mile for us and this makes a huge difference as downtime is so costly.

Kubota Tractors making a difference

The Kubota that made all the difference in the beginning for De Rustica was the M8540 N with Cab. But this machine has made a difference to countless farmers and others all over the world. Re-engineered, restyled and powered by Kubota’s world renowned Tier III compliant, 4 cylinder E-CDIS (centre direct injection system) diesel engine, this lightweight, short-wheelbase tractor appeals to farmers, amenity professional and contractors alike. Boasting advanced transmission and PTO technology, a range of new features as standard and high performance hydraulics, the M8540 is an exceptional workhorse, built on proven technology.

It was interesting that no other tractor company could provide us with a narrow tractor with a cab. This was essential to us as we spray the trees using these tractors and of course our operators need protection,” says Steenkamp.

Importance of a CAB tractor in South Africa

On this subject Smith Power Equipment (SPE), Kubota distributors in South Africa, warn that South African farmers generally are not taking seriously enough the importance of a well-designed, safe tractor cab which conforms to international safety standards, which is most especially important with cabs of spraying tractors.

According to SPE’s Deon Engelke, one of the problems is that farmers have become guided by price alone failing to take into consideration the life-time costs of ownership.  “It is productivity over the life of a tractor that is the most important issue not the once-off capital cost,” says Engleke, “and this productivity is very much influenced by, amongst other things, tractor quality and operator comfort and safety.

Engelke says that a variety of both imported and locally constructed tractor cabs have been available in South Africa for many years. “While the imported cabs are generally built according to these international safety standards, many of the locally made cabs, built mainly with economy in mind, often do not comply.

The facts are clear. The cabs available on the various Kubota tractors, like the M8540N, which is used extensively for spraying, have many important features that meet international farming safety standards if you are considering upgrading your tractors, particularly spray tractors, you must be sure to check Kubota’s important features and build-quality.

Kubota “Safe, Visible and control”

The main areas of evaluation must concern safety, visibility, sound, climate control, the layout of the controls, operator space and, most importantly, air filtration. You will be impressed with all these features which meet all the customers farming safety requirements,” Engelke says.

While operator safety and comfort is important from a labour ethics point of view – and more farmers in our country should be taking this into account – I must stress that a poorly equipped cab is also bad for business! Even though a world class cab may be more expensive in terms of the initial outlay, the extra productivity gained through a safe, comfortable and happy operator outweighs this expense a hundred-fold over the life-time of the tractor,” concludes Engelke.

Keeping tabs on the cost

Steenkamp concurs. “We look at our costs very carefully as any successful farmer would do. But we recognise that sometimes, especially with tractors, that a cheaper initial investment can be expensive in the long run. With our Kubotas there is no doubt that while they were a little more expensive to buy, over time they have saved us a lot of money,” he says. Kubota is a premium and quality product but it is very competitively priced.

Founded in 2005 by Rob Still, a successful South African mining entrepreneur, De Rustica, a triple gold award winner, spans 125ha, with over 100 000 olive trees, and has produced 200 000 litres of extra virgin olive oil.

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