At Grainews we pride ourselves on providing practical production information to our readers, and I think we do a pretty good job of it. This year we had the opportunity provide even more of that practical information on the machinery side of things. With access to the facilities at the new Ag in Motion farm show site, we were able to organize a practical evaluation and comparisons of one type of machine that is becoming increasingly common on prairie farms: the side-by-side UTV.
For the first ever Grainews Challenge, seven manufacturers submitted nine UTVs for evaluation. Our team of experienced judges put those machines through a series of tests that were designed to duplicate the kinds of tasks they would be required to do on a farm.
The judges evaluated the machines’ performance when providing basic transportation under a variety of conditions ranging from gravel roads to crossing wet sloughs in a field. We had to use the winches to pull out a couple of mired machines, so that should tell you how hard we made them claw for traction! Judges also made the UTVs haul and tow loads near their maximum specified ratings. They looked at the vehicles’ designs, how easy they were to operate and how suitable they were for general farm use.
The results may be a little surprising to some.
Basically, there are clear differences in capabilities among the group that farmers should understand. If a producer is looking at buying a UTV, he or she should first have a good idea of what jobs it will be put to and select a machine that excels at that task. Hopefully, our upcoming report in the pages of the October issue of Grainews will help identify the advantages each of the test machines offers.
All the machines proved themselves worthy of finding a home on a farm. However, not every machine did all the jobs well. Some proved themselves nimble people movers that would also be handy herding cattle, while others are strong, heavy haulers that didn’t have the same agility. Still others mixed business with pleasure, doing the hauling tasks well and providing a fun machine anyone would like to just go out and drive through the mud. Some were capable of incredibly fast top speeds, while others were slow. But each advantage usually meant a trade-off in some other area of performance.
When we looked at the specifications for all the machines, we found it was necessary to break them down into three groups: heavy duty, medium duty and light duty. The maximum carrying and towing limits in the group varied that much—just another example of how they differed from each other.
We have all the machines on display at a special Grainews UTV Challenge display booth this week at the Ag in Motion farm show near Saskatoon, and we have at least one judge there to answer questions from anyone who stops by.
But we also want to know what you think of the group. We’re letting visitors have a say by allowing anyone who comes to the booth to vote for their favourite machine. We’ll be drawing a few names from those who do to win some swag donated by one of the brands that participated in the Challenge.
See you there.