Demand to get into the avocado industry is exceeding the supply of trees, says the chair of the Avocado Growers Association.
The two Fendt 200 series tractors on the property – a 10-year-old 209P and a 2017 211P – are big enough to power PTO implements and lift silage bales, but small enough to fit under avocado trees and between the rows.
The farm manager who runs the dairy side of the business now uses the older one, and Stanisich has laid claim to the new machine.
Reliability is essential because the property is 180km north of service centres in Whangarei and 27km north of Kaitaia. After a decade with the 209P, the decision to buy the 211P wasn’t too hard, given the former’s reliability and durability.
Stanisich bought the second tractor to work the expanding avocado acreage and because he liked its vario transmission that allows stepless speeds from 20m/h up to 40km/h.
“The vario is good for trenching, root pruning in pine shelter belts and heavy mulching, due to the range of speed available,” Stanisich told Rural News.
“Particularly good are the 40km/h road speed at 1700rpm and PTO speed delivered at 1900rpm, which combine to offer fuel savings.”
At 1.7m wide, the newer 211P delivers 111hp -- plenty of power to drive a 3.0m mower, the 2.5m mulcher and a 1.75m forestry mulcher for orchard and general farm work.
Fitted with linkages and PTO front and rear, the tractor runs a front-mounted mower to allow a silage crop to be taken from between the avocado trees.
The orchard has been planted over a long time: earlier areas at 7.0m row spacing and more recent closer, so the tractors operate in spaces from 5 to 8m wide.
Manoeuvrability is said to be better than a quad: the tractor comes out of one row and turns back into the next.
Employed staff make safety rules paramount, e.g. warnings to apply the handbrake when leaving the cab, or indicating the PTO is still running.
The comfort of an air suspension seat and front suspension system are appreciated, as is the roomy cab, given that Stanisich is 1.8m tall.
Although the compactness of the 211 makes for little room under the hood, daily service items are readily accessible and easy to replace, and the space is not too hospitable for starlings.
Reliability is tops for Stanisich, hence his choosing the premium German brand; the seasons allow only a short window of time to do the work so breakdowns are a no-no.