28 April 1995

Manufacturers are quick to respond to potato optimism

By Andrew Faulkner

HIS years potato crop has barely been "put to bed", but growers are already looking to invest in soil preparation and planting equipment for the 1996 season.

And, not surprisingly, equipment manufacturers are keen to take advantage of the renewed optimism within the sector.

Reekie Manufacturing is the latest firm to introduce a new product range. Its three-model Reliance stone and clod separator line-up has been making its first public appearances in Scotland over the past 10 days.

"The bulk of this years planting may have been done, but we already have 10-15 growers seriously talking to dealers about machines for 1996," says Reekies Ally Napier.

In prototype form for the past 18 months, the Reliance machines use the traditional web-type separation used by the firms previous models. But this is where the similarity ends; chassis, driveline and web design are all different.

The range comprises three models – badged 400, 500 and 600 – which are fitted with four, five and six webs respectively. Modular construction enables a grower to buy a smaller machine initially, and then add an extra web at a later date should he feel he needs the extra output. All webs are the same length, and can be interchanged to compensate for any uneven wear.

Drive is via gearbox, toothed rubber belt and pulley, rather than the more conventional chain/sprocket system, and final drive to the webs themselves is through rubber rollers. This increased use of rubber is designed to reduce wear and maintenance, says Mr Napier.

Price of the mid-range, five-web 500 machine, which is expected to be the most popular model in the line-up, starts from £32,500.

Traditional web cleaning for the new Reekie Reliance stone and clod separator. Most popular model is expected to be this five-web model.