Italian power harrow firms Maschio and Brevi vie for attention

Forget Frascati, spaghetti carbonara and Versace – Italy’s pretty famous for its power harrows, too. Oliver Mark takes a look at two of its top power harrow exporters, Maschio and Brevi

The Italian power harrow scene is very competitive. While they drift in and out of favour in the UK, almost every farmer in Italy still has – and uses – one. And no wonder – with ploughing down to 40cm and some serious clods baking in the Mediterranean sun, the only solution is fuel-thirsty power harrowing.

Average farm size in Italy is just 7-10ha so contracting is an increasingly important service, and power harrow manufacturers are making bigger machinery to meet contractors’ needs.

The market is up and down, though. The attraction of min-till and rocketing diesel prices saw power harrow sales drop by as much as 40% a couple of years ago.

Maschio and Brevi are two of the best-known Italian-based makers. Maschio has become a household name thanks to its relationship with Cambridgeshire importer Reco that extended back 33 years.

But with Maschio looking to push its Gaspardo drills into the UK market and Reco already having a deal with Sulky, the pair decided to part ways in November 2011.

Lincolnshire firm Opico has taken over distribution of Maschio Gaspardo, importing the company’s drills, power harrows, rotary cultivators and mowers alongside its He-Va range.

Opico aims to bring in around €20m of stock from Maschio over the next five years, according to managing director James Woolway, doubling the import volume compared to Reco.

It is dealing with a big company, though. Maschio has 12,000 employees and turnover is expected to reach €250m. It’s Europe’s most productive drill maker with 28,000 seeders coming off the factory line each year.

One of the latest additions to the Maschio range is the hydraulic folding Toro. The heavy-duty machine – along with the rigid-frame Orso – are in the high-horsepower (180-380hp) bracket. Power harrows range from 1.5-8m working widths. Quick fit tines are standard – including the rotor top that is also easily replaced should it be worn by deep work – as are stone deflectors in front of each rotor. Rotors are spaced at 250mm (four tines/metre) and are angled at 20° intervals to reduce peak load, vibration and help lower fuel consumption.

The 6m wide version with packer roller has a 2.4m transport width and costs £40,977.

Replacing the Maschio machines in the Reco stable is lesser-known maker Breviglieri (branded as Brevi in the UK).

The Verona company has had several stabs at the UK market, but it has often been through individual dealers without the back-up capabilities and marketing clout of a major importer.

Now Reco says it will be making a big push marketing Brevi’s power harrows, rotary cultivators and inter-row machines in the UK. Brevi’s turnover of €20m is small compared to Maschio, but it still exports over 70% of machinery to 55 countries across the world.

While the company can’t compete with Maschio for size it has a strong line-up of power harrows and rotary tillers.

The power harrow range extends from 1.1m to 7m for tractors between 30-350hp. As much as 80% of Brevi power harrows are combined with drills, although the company only supplies 40% with its seed drills using an Accord system.

All transmission components are manufactured in-house; gears and iron castings are made by Brevi’s forging company. The structural frames and welded components are outsourced to local suppliers capable of laser cutting or robot welding.

As with Maschio, rotors are arranged at 20° intervals and there’s the same 250mm spacing; there are 200mm spacing options for veg growers looking for a finer finish. Quick fit couplings are standard and there are three different headstocks available.

Brevi’s 6m offering – the Mekfold 300 SF – requires 180-300hp. Transport width is 2.5m and weight is 3.15t with a packer roller attached. Cost is £35,200.

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