In the Tarragona region of Spain, the General Community of Regants of the Dreta Sant de Sant Jaume d’Enveja is in charge of managing irrigation waters, so that each member of this group of irrigators receives the exact same amount of water for their rice plantations. It is an association made up of 1,166 farms, distributed over more than 2,000 hectares of agricultural land.
This community has recently purchased a new Bobcat E26 mini-excavator equipped with a Bobcat SL FM 85 flail mower attachment, to clean the drainage channels of the renowned Montsiá rice plantations. The Bobcat flail mower is designed to allow a Bobcat mini-excavator to cut vegetation on uneven terrain where other machines cannot work and is equipped with a sturdy retention guard to prevent flying debris. Its self-levelling function ensures that it tracks the surface, even while the E26 is being driven along the edge of the drainage channels.
Small footprint and high flow requirements
“We needed a very compact and manoeuvrable machine, and with a sufficient flow rate to be able to move along the margins and clear the brush in motion. We also wanted both the machine and the attachment to be the same brand to avoid problems,” said Miguel Avila, water manager for the General Community of Regants of the Dreta Sant de Sant Jaume d’Enveja.
The Bobcat E26 mini-excavator and flail mower attachment combination are responsible for eliminating the vegetation that grows in the drains while the fields are flooded, while the bucket on the mini-excavator is used to unblock any specific blockages in the drainage system. During this period, maintenance is of vital importance to ensure the water flows correctly. When the harvest is in and the fields are dry, the E26 mini-excavator is used to carry out excavation tasks using two Bobcat buckets, a 120 cm unit for cleaning and a 30 cm bucket for excavation.
Previously, weeds were cleaned manually and the community has been able to verify the effectiveness of the mini-excavator and brush cutter over a 595m long section of a plantation. To clean this area manually would have previously required about 42 hours with a crew of three men, but with the Bobcat E26 mini-excavator and the attachment, this can be carried out in just seven hours.
Mr Avila added: “We chose this model because it was perfectly adapted to the conditions of the terrain and its weight is ideal to be able to move between the plantations without affecting the work surface. This machine weighs 2,700kg, which we would say is the maximum acceptable weight to move in a very narrow area without affecting the terrain, often with water present, so the tracks allow you to manoeuvre without problems. With more weight, we could no longer work and we would have lacked the oil flow for the attachments.
“Its width was also an essential point, there are pathways of 2m width, but in many cases, they are only 1.7m wide and the Bobcat mini-excavator measures only 1.5m from one track to the other, which allows it to work without problems and also guarantees the safety of our operators.”
Good dealer service a decisive factor
Mr Avila continued: “I saw a mini-excavator working at one of our suppliers handling fibre tubes and it gave me the idea that we could use a compact piece of equipment like this for our community. It is increasingly difficult to find qualified and multidisciplinary workers, so we need versatile machinery that suits our needs. I convened our board of directors and we selected several brands to compare.
“Bobcat Of, the official Bobcat dealer in the area, was the only one who gave us a demonstration of the machine with the brush cutter to really assess its efficiency in the field. Many manufacturers told us that we could do clearing tasks with their compact equipment, some of them even with the handicap of having to stop due to machine heating issues, or others that could not move and clear at the same time, but no one else showed their system in action like the Bobcat Of team did. We had no experience with this type of machine, so we also let ourselves be guided by other farmers who were already using them.
“Other key points for us were the straightforward maintenance of the mini-excavator and undoubtedly the good service from the dealer. If we have any problem along a strip, in the middle of a farm we need immediate solutions. We ask for the highest quality, effectiveness and a very rapid response from our suppliers in the face of any adversity. To stop a machine is to lose a lot of money. To make them profitable, our machines usually work from 7am to 9pm, whatever the weather, but especially July and August, which are the months when the vegetation is highest.”
Mr Avila has been able to evaluate the positive results of using the Bobcat E26 mini-excavator and is already thinking of purchasing a Bobcat breaker attachment in the near future to carry out maintenance tasks in the community. From the beginning, the versatility of a tool-carrying machine with many attachments such as the E26 mini-excavator has brought increased profits for community members, particularly in light of the high expenses involved in renting machinery.
For more information go to www.bobcat.com