LAMMA is the UK’s leading event for agricultural machinery, equipment and technology – and a great place to find some useful tools for the forestry sector, as Arwyn Morgan reports.

LAMMA returned to the comfort of the NEC in Birmingham for 2020. The largest agricultural machinery show in the UK, it actually seems to have increased in size since last year, containing a whole spectrum of machinery from small remote-controlled units to large high-power tractors.

Only a limited amount of forestry equipment was on display but, in reality, if you want to see sawmills, chippers and firewood processors you should go to the APF. So what value is LAMMA to the forestry sector? Basically, if you’re a contractor or tree surgeon using tractor-based machinery, this show offers you probably the largest display of tractors and material-handling machines in the UK. As well as this, there was a whole range of ancillary suppliers of tractor parts, wear parts and various specialist manufacturers of attachments to be used with the machinery displayed.

Forestry Journal: A Bobcat 130 hp telehandler.A Bobcat 130 hp telehandler.

This year saw a greater number of tractor manufacturers on display from all parts of the world, including Japan, Korea, China, Turkey, India and all over Europe. Ever-greater advances in technology were readily apparent, which is good to a certain extent. Some are due to emission regulations, while others are purely down to the imagination of design engineers. I increasingly come across mechanics who are fed up with engineers designing machinery with no thought going into its repair at a later stage, or designs following the octopus principle, in that you need to cut off all the legs to get at the body (in that the mechanics need to remove vast amounts of bits and pieces, just to get to the main components).

I noted last year how many tractors had their air tanks and ancillary fine pipework situated inside the back wheel, in an unarguable prime position. A few mechanics have commented how they often have to remove back wheels to service such components. I don’t know if manufacturers have heeded the observations and complaints of users, but this year there seemed to be more lower-powered tractors without such fittings. It seems that about 140 hp is the cut-off point before most manufacturers install such tanks. In reality, most tractors up to this power are used by livestock farmers, and are an ideal size to take a 12-tonne forwarding trailer, thus are the very tractors likely to be used in difficult conditions.

A final gripe on the use of technology for technology’s sake was prompted on the stand of one large tractor maker, where you had to get special glasses to read the specification boards next to each tractor, and a few people, due to the long queue, were unable to get these glasses, so were unable to read the spec boards. Yet it could be that other companies are hungrier and making equipment that is easier to maintain.

It was Farmtrac’s UK launch through importer Reesink Agriculture. Sales manager Steve Haynes was keen to emphasise that they are looking for dealers. Tractors range from 22 to 113 hp, including a small electric tractor developed for use in low-emission areas. Up to 75 hp, Farmtrac uses its own engines, while for the larger tractors it uses a Perkins engine, which considerably increases the costs. It is currently working on engines to be Stage V compliant. In the last year it produced over 100,000 tractors and, with a new factory, it will soon be in a position to make 150,000 per year.

Forestry Journal: New boys Bazak with their 100 hp telehandler.New boys Bazak with their 100 hp telehandler.

A company which seems to be on the rise is Bobcat, now part of the Doosan group. It’s come a long way since its original skid steers and Bobcat seems keen to introduce its machines to the forestry sector, with sales literature promoting the tracked version of their skid steer with mulching heads. Bobcat’s telehandlers are quite rugged with some units with a hefty 4.5-tonne lift, and with up to 130 horses under their bonnets.

Air-seal, the puncture repair system installed via mechanical pump, has now been fitted to all Post Office vans and is used by many sectors in the military. Salesman Mike Smith was keen to point out the system’s benefits by busily pounding steel spikes into an example tyre.

Zetor’s Proxima tractor was showing its improved cooling and heat management for the engine and hydraulic systems.

Forestry Journal: Demonstrating the benefits of the puncture repair system.Demonstrating the benefits of the puncture repair system.

JCB had updated versions of its 4000 and 8000 Fastrac series which incorporated strengthened axles and suspension improvement. Its material-handling machines included its ever-popular telehandlers and loading shovels. But the best part of the stand was the Fastrac, driven by Guy Martin to take the title of fastest tractor in the world. In its efforts JCB created the first machine, but wasn’t satisfied that it had beaten the existing record by a large enough margin, as it obviously didn’t want its new record easily broken, so came up with a second machine to really blow up the record. Funnily, the machine looked smaller in real life than it did on the television, but it sure looked good.

One of the hungry new entrants to LAMMA was Basak. Although new to the UK, Basak has been in operation since 1914 and currently makes some 10,000 tractors each year, with a third going throughout Europe and much of the rest going to Asia. They use Carraro axles, ZF transmissions with Deutz engines, and come as standard with a two-year or 1,500-hour warranty. Everything comes as standard with no hidden extras. The Basak range is imported by the same company that imports the Armatrac range, as both are made in Turkey, and it is felt that both makes compliment each other, with one being a more basic tractor while the other is more high spec. Basak has, for the last 10 years, been busy making telehandlers and currently makes some 500 per year with 90 per cent going for export. These start with a four-tonne lift and front-axle steer. Currently it is looking for dealers.

Forestry Journal: A Zetor Foterra 140.A Zetor Foterra 140.

No doubt many readers will know Riko UK from the APF,  with its speciality for alpine tractors, including Goldini. It was showcasing Arbos, a new brand for the UK though it does have a bit of history. Some years back, Goldini was taken over by China’s largest tractor maker. Recognising each sector’s strengths, Goldini still makes the range of alpine tractors, the Chinese factories make the mid-range utility tractors and, under the new, combined brand, Arbos has started making 110- to 140-hp tractors in Italy, with current developments aiming to take the range up to 260 hp.

What can I say about these Arbos tractors? Firstly, the company makes or sources all its own axles and transmissions. When it first made its alpine tractors many years ago it had difficulty in sourcing components of a suitable quality, so now makes many of these components itself or has long-term relationships with local manufacturers, all helping to ensure quality control. Its larger tractors have Koler engines and dry clutches for simple maintenance, with basic versions and more advanced versions for those who want them. Looking at the tractor on display, it seemed relatively simple to guard it, and it seems that Arbos is looking at providing the option of a reversible seat, so as to offer more operator comfort whilst using a forwarding trailer or any such implements. It is currently looking for new dealers.

It is odd that relatively few tractor manufacturers are trying to develop the arb/forestry sector, yet there are a few manufacturers willing to listen to the users of these machines. I wonder what exciting products will be on display at next year’s event.