Can a farm buggy take over the role of a pickup truck? A Kent farmworker who has just bought one reckons that, in many ways, it can.
Guy Coggles drives lorries and does general farmwork for Britain’s second biggest apple, pear and blackcurrant grower, Adrian Scripps, near Tonbridge in Kent. He also has an ATV for log-collecting and looking after his own sheep as well as a pickup for getting to work and transporting the ATV and trailer.
But, he wondered, could a high-end farm buggy pretty much take over both tasks? He looked at several makes but eventually plumped for Deere’s new-to-the-market petrol-powered Gator 825i in June of this year.
Why petrol? “It’s about top speed,” he says. “The petrol 825i has a top speed of 44mph, compared with 25mph on the diesel version. The traffic around here is very fast, so you need the speed to avoid holding up cars.”
Doesn’t petrol make it expensive to run though? Mr Coggles thinks not. “I’m getting the book figure of 2.1 litres/hour, which is equivalent to 40mpg. So, with a 20-litre (4.4gal) tank I reckon I’m getting a range of 180 miles.” It’s a lot smoother and quieter than the diesel, too.
Equipment levels on buggies tend to be a bit frugal, so Mr Coggles has added some extras to make life more pleasant. “The normal wheels are steel ones, but I went for the 14in alloys with Maxis Bighorn 27×11.14 tyres. I also got the deluxe cab, which gives you better seats with car-style belts and it means you can legally take a child in it, too.”
He also fitted a pair of extra headlamps on the front and a pair of halogens on the roof. Having the more expensive cab also gives a rear-opening glass window (though you have to remember not to have it fully open before you operate the tipping buck) an oddments tray and a cover over the petrol cap to avoid getting a powerful blast of petrol in the cab.
He would have liked the Deere heater too, but it takes up the whole of the glove box area. However the shiny air-horn nestling in front of the rad provides a bit of compensation.
He’d also like one or two extras like a tonneau at the back, a radio, decent toolbox and secondary 20-litre fuel tank. However EU import rules mean these are apparently only available to US farmers.
Towing capacity is 700kg and load capacity is 600kg, which is fine for his purposes.
At a total cost of £19,000, Mr Coggles’ new vehicle might sound a bit expensive. But he’s confident that the combination of good road speed, off-road ability, comfort and carrying capacity, makes his purchase hard to beat.