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Soil specialist converts ATV

Soil sampling ATV saves time

Agricultural contractor and soil specialist Andrew Dutton, of Dutton Agri Services, works in partnership with his father David to offer nationwide soil testing, and fertiliser application in a 50-mile radius from the business’s base in Baschurch, Shropshire.

Established in 1992, the business began by offering a consultative approach to lime application, helping farmers understand more about the health of the soil and nutrient management. To cover thousands of acres throughout the year, the business uses two Yamaha ATVs with some unusual modifications.

“We used to walk the fields taking and recording soil samples. We soon realised it would be much quicker using an ATV and we adapted one to fit our requirements,” recalls Andrew.

Whilst subtle, the modifications have made the ATV a remarkably efficient tool for collecting soil samples. The lightweight Yamaha Kodiak 450, with independent suspension and wide tyres, minimises compaction and provides the perfect seating position to cover the ground comfortably.

“My father designed a rack for the front with 10 holes that match the compartments of a sample box. A second frame was added to secure a large box on the rear rack to store the boxes of samples, and two holders were attached to the left and right of the seat for the operator to store soil sampling augers,” he explains.

The latest ATV replaces an identical model which was stolen from the farm. The new Kodiak 450 has been fitted with an GPS tracking device, free of charge, to help prevent a similar theft occurring.

“Our local dealer offers excellent support and when we had the ATV stolen, they were quick to source a replacement. They also explained that Yamaha offered a free tracker, so we took advantage after our unfortunate experience.”

The Kodiak is equipped with heated grips and throttle thumb control, electric power steering (EPS) and Diff-lock which helps with the varied work the business fulfils.

“The EPS is a big help because we can manage the ATV more easily on rough ground and operate it with one hand when we are taking samples. This enables the operator to slow to a stop, steady the ATV and take a sample before scraping it through the rack into a collection box. We rarely have to get off the ATV and this has saved so much time that we have been able to take on work all over the UK.”

Using a GPS system, he is able to show where samples have been taken and label each accordingly. One operator with the Kodiak can cover 800 acres a day and collect 400 samples, with each being recorded using the GPS.

“We offer soil pH analysis, soil nutrient tests and organic matter tests. We believe it is important to understand the baseline from which we are working and also to help farmers better understand which inputs will improve the soil for different crops.”

The Yamaha Kodiak 450 ATV has been updated with Diff-lock as standard on all EPS models and includes a safer, utility focussed rear braking system throughout the range. The addition of Diff-lock to the Kodiak enables independent power transfer to all four wheels for better off road traction.

“This really helps in wet and muddy conditions. The locking differential forces all wheels to spin at the same speed, regardless of traction, helping the ATV to maintain drive momentum. If the ground is hilly or very uneven it is a real help.”

All Kodiak models are specified with Ultramatic® transmission which maintains tension on the drive belt to provide a consistent throttle response. The constantly variable transmission (CVT) provides the correct gear ratio as the ATV speeds up and also acts to provide engine breaking when the ATV is going downhill. The rider is also able to automatically switch between 2-wheel drive, 4-wheel drive, and Diff-lock settings with the push of a button.

“I would always have automatic transmission because we are constantly starting and stopping, so it reduces the fatigue of constantly changing gear. I particularly like the versatility of the Yamaha transmission and the option to select two- and four-wheel drive easily. We have a very busy schedule of soil sampling and I know I can rely on the Kodiak to cover the ground and help us deliver for our customers,” he concludes.