(By the farming editor, Terry Tacon)
The only mechanical orchard ladder I had seen till a few months ago was a Heath Robinson affair a friend in Tasmania’s Huon Valley had rigged up for pruning work.
Thus l was mightily impressed the other day when I saw in action what must be the Rolls-Royce of the breed, the Hawke’s Bay designed Hydralada.
The machines are designed and built by the Hastings farm machinery company, Field Equipment Ltd, and are a credit to the company’s ingenuity and engineering skill.
Powered by a 12 horsepower Kohler (American) engine, the Hydralada features a hoist which has a five metre lift, making it ideal for high pruning and picking work.
But it is in the ease of operation that the Hydralada excels. Three foot pedals allow the operator to work the hoist, drive the machine to where he wants to work and rotate the machine to reach the part of the tree he wants.
A car muffler linked to the engine makes the Hydralada’s operation exceptionally quiet and a 12 volt battery provides an effective ignition system.
Now in its third year of production, the Hydralada has gained wide acceptance throughout New Zeaiand, but as yet the export potential has not been developed, largely because of heavy local demand.
However, it is obvious they would be good sellers overseas and I know of one Tasmanian orchardist who would love to have one!
Photo caption – ORCHARD WORKER Kevin Joe is pictured using a Hydralada for pruning work on Mr Colin Wake’s St George’s Road property, at left in the lowered position and at right with the hoist extended.