Anyone who has a telehandler doesn’t go back to a tractor!
Anyone who has a telehandler doesn’t go back to a tractor, says contractor and farmer Mark Flipp.
“A tractor isn't designed to have a frontend loader: it’s an after-thought. A telehandler is a specialised machine and that’s what it does: load,” Mark says.
Mark works on his family’s 508ha farm at Oroua Downs, Manawatu, called Flipp Organic Farming. It carries 300 spring cows and 300 autumn cows. He also runs Flipp Hay and Straw, a contracting business that revolves around four truck and trailer units that cart all things rural.
Between the two operations, there is a lot of lifting work for a telehandler.
“We have a couple of tractors but at different times of the year they sit still while the telehandler gets used everyday.”
Mark’s Merlo 40.7 Turbofarmer does 1000 hours a year.
“You can do anything with them, even trivial things like digging a trench under a gateway for an electric fence cable. If it’s a choice between a tractor with a frontend loader or the telehandler, you never go for the tractor.”
The Merlo Turbofarmer lifts up to 7.0m and has a 4.0 tonne lift capacity.
Mark has a range of fittings for his Turbofarmer – a large bucket, bin tipper, soft hands and bale forks. He also has a grapple-type root rake.
“The root rake is good for shifting anything – large rocks or logs or pulling down an old shed. It makes easy work of anything.”
He says the joy of the grapple is it doesn't matter how it grabs a log, the log stays grabbed. You don't have to get in the middle and balance it, and it’s much safer.
Mark’s Merlo is easy to use. He says he prefers simpler machines and it makes it easy for other people to jump into it.
Mark has 1800 tonnes of compost spread on his paddocks every year by a fertiliser spreading company.
“All the drivers have told me that they go to lots of places where they have to load their own trucks and the Merlo is the easiest to just jump in and use for the first time.”
The Turbofarmer 40.7 is 140hp with constant four-wheel-drive, and does 40 kph on the road. It has hydrostatic transmission and with a shuttle stick for reverse.
“The hydrostatic drive makes rough terrain smooth compared with a tractor stuck in gear.”
Mark is onto his fourth Merlo telehandler. His relationship with Merlo goes back more than 15 years. He used to load with tractors until one day he asked Dick Rowbottom from Power Farming Manawatu what the telehandlers were like.
Dick dropped one off for trial a week later. That was the beginning of a good relationship.
Since then Dick has left and Mark has bought his last three Merlos were through Power Farming Manawatu principal Stephen Alford.
“We deal with Power Farming because of the service. If there are ever any problems with any machinery, they sort them quickly.”
Merlo Turbofarmers come in a range of sizes, with lifting heights between 7.0m and 10m, and 100hp to 140hp.
They can tow trailers up to 40 kph, and some models have a chassis that tilts relative to the front axle, ensuring any lifting is done from a stable flat base even on uneven ground.
Merlo also produces the Multifarmer telehandler, which has a three-point linkage and PTO.