Anyone who attended the Agri Trade farm show in Red Deer this fall will almost certainly have noticed some all-new Kubota equipment on display. At machinery shows all around North America in the past couple of years, the brand has certainly been making its presence known, showing an ever-expanding line of ag products. And executives haven’t made any secret of the fact they intend to keep up that pace of new machinery introductions.
In August, American farmers visiting the U.S. Farm Progress Show in Boone, Iowa, were given the first look at the BV4580 5×6 round baler, a few months before its Canadian introduction.
“This is just our first launch,” said David Palmer, senior product manager for implements at Kubota, while standing beside the new baler at the U.S. show. “We have other products we’re working on that we’re going to be continually bringing in.”
The larger BV4580 round baler will help make Kubota a much bigger player in the livestock equipment niche it has been targeting with its initial implement introductions. Prior to the debut of the BV4580, the orange brand had integrated balers with narrower four-foot chambers from Kverneland into its line. Kverneland, a Norwegian implement brand, was acquired by Kubota in 2012. But under Kubota ownership, its implements are now being scaled up to better interest producers on this side of the Atlantic.
The BV4580 is a prime example of that. According to Palmer, the brand is also incorporating new technologies and design refinements into the mix as the new products roll out.
“We have a completely different intake system, and we have an integrated auger-rotor system in the chamber floor of this baler,” he explained. “As material is brought in from the side, it’s able to flow. And this rotor is giving us an even feed into the bale chamber, which gives us maximum density on our bales.
“We’ve done some side-by-side testing with two leading competitors and we had a 10 per cent advantage, both in density and performance over those machines, so it’s really given us a lot of capacity for feeding into the baler.”
And the BV4580s get a new in-cab colour monitor. Although it’s a little smaller than the previous version, this one has a high-density screen, making it easier to see in the sunlight.
“It’s a real user friendly monitor, simple, easy to understand,” said Palmer
The new balers will be built at Kverneland’s Ravenna Baler Competence Centre in northern Italy and shipped to North America. Final assembly of Canadian balers will take place in existing Kubota facilites here.
Kubota is giving farmers who buy one of its new BV4580 balers another choice of tractors to put in front of it: the new M6S-111. According to the company, “This economical machine is ideal for hay and cattle operations.”
With a four-cylinder diesel putting out 114 engine horsepower (95 on the PTO), the tractor offers the more economical, basic features livestock producers often go for in a utility tractor. That said, the tractor provides a pretty wide range of working speeds for an “economical” model with the Swing Shift Plus 32F/32R electro-shuttle transmission. It’s also available in a 48F/48R creeper version.
And the tractor supplies both 540 and 1,000 r.p.m. PTO.
Great Plains Manufacturing
This past spring Kubota announced it had purchased Kansas-based Great Plains Manufacturing, which builds seeding, planting and tillage equipment. The announcement revealed that like Kverneland, which Kubota purchased in 2012, Great Plains will continue to operate under its original brand name for the foreseeable future, but it’s almost a certainty that its products will eventually be available as Kubota-branded machines, just as Kverneland’s have.
Says David Palmer, senior product manager for implements, “Kubota has made a commitment that we’re going to be a full-liner in the ag market.” During a 2014 interview with Grainews’ sister publication Country Guide, Todd Stucke, Kubota’s VP of ag and turf in the U.S., said the company’s strategy regarding its introduction of haying equipment in North America has been to have tractors capable of handling the new implements it introduces.
“I’ll speak for the U.S.,” he said, regarding Kubota’s Hay tools. “We’re going to roll out the products as they match the horsepower of the tractor lines. We want our products to be pulled by a Kubota tractor. As we get higher horsepower tractors we’ll get more products. That’s been our strategy here.”
So, will that strategy hold when and if the brand incorporates the larger tillage and seeding equipment produced by Great Plains into the brand? An interview with David Webster, general manager for sales and marketing in Canada, also in 2014, suggests it might. And the brand’s current flagship tractor, the M-171, may not hold top spot for too much longer.
“… As we look at getting into larger farming operations, we’ll definitely continue to see product-line expansion, evidenced by the M7 tractor that was introduced,” he said. “And we’ll definitely see that product line continue to grow. The company isn’t done there.”
The company hasn’t yet announced anything more on the high-horse- power tractor front. So, all we can do is wait and watch.