The Kubota Tractor Corporation's new M8540 Power Krawler narrow cab tractor features rear tracks instead of tires for increased traction and stability while decreasing compaction in vineyard, orchard, and specialty applications.

“The longer wheelbase, lower center of gravity, and independently oscillating tracks improves stability and keeps operators from bouncing through uneven terrain — dramatically increasing operator comfort,” says Paul Williams, Kubota Tractor and Implements product manager.

The larger track footprint offers improved traction especially in wet and hilly conditions. The M8540 Power Krawler's rear weight is distributed over the rear track's larger surface area which reduces ground compaction by about 60 percent when compared to a standard wheel tractor of comparable size, Kubota says. The rear crawler exerts 4.12 pounds per square inch of ground pressure which results in better floatation with less soil damage.

“Unlike full crawler vehicles, the Power Krawler's basic maneuverability and speed is nearly identical to that of a standard four-wheel tractor, so there is no need for special operator training,” Williams says.

The Power Krawler features a year-round environment-controlled cab and offers the power of Kubota's popular M-series narrow tractors while engineered specifically for increased performance in rolling terrain and maneuverability in narrow rows.

Kubota unveiled the M8540 Power Krawler narrow cab tractor in California's Napa Valley in July at Piña Napa Valley and Piña Vineyard Management. Kubota chose the companies to test drive a prototype tractor in 2006. Piña ran the tractor for 840 RPM hours for spraying, disking, spreading compost, and other vineyard chores.

“We said (to Kubota) why don't you just leave it with us and send us a bill,” said Davie Piña who has since ordered a Power Krawler. “This tractor is phenomenal to drive. It pulls a 300-gallon spray tank with no problem.” Based on the test drive, Piña believes the Power Krawler will require less maintenance compared to other vineyard tractors on the market.

The tractor's synthetic rubber track has hard rubber lugs to provide a smoother, quieter ride at higher speeds than typical steel lugs. Both sides of the tractor are kept in contact with the ground via independently oscillating crawlers. The maintenance and process for changing crawler tracks is user-friendly due to the split-type drive sprocket design with rotating pins.

The M8540 Power Krawler is equipped with Kubota's turbo-charged center-direct injection system engine. The E-CDIS diesel engine provides power, durability and efficiency, as well as low noise levels, all while meeting Tier III EPA Emission regulations.

The M8540 Power Krawler narrow cab tractor weighs 6,500 pounds and is 54 inches wide with standard front tires and 92.1 inches in height. The list price is $51,000.

The Power Krawler comes standard with a turbocharged 76 PTO horsepower four-cylinder engine, and features hydrostatic power steering and a hydraulic shuttle transmission with wet main clutch. This feature is designed to maximize productivity and keep work moving with the fully synchronized four speed main shift and high/low range.

Getting an up close look at the tractor was Fosters Wine Estate's Scott Bauer, director of vineyard operations for Sonoma and Lake counties.

“The track system could help us out on the vineyard hillsides,” Bauer said. “Spray rigs are a pretty good size and can cause a lot of tractors to power out and spin. This tractor (with the tracks) is definitely a lot safer for our employees and that's what's important.”

Kubota's M-Series narrow tractors are engineered with operator comfort in mind, providing ample head room and maximum visibility. Kubota's innovative narrow cab features standard air conditioner and heater, two front/rear halogen work lights, and monitor coupler. Optional equipment includes a CD or cassette player radio with weather band and rear wiper.

For product literature or dealer locations, contact Kubota Tractor Corporation at 3401 Del Amo Blvd., Torrance, Calif. 90503, 888 458-2682, ext. 900, or visit kubota.com.