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Post: KRC Farming was among the first customers to buy Bell Series 5 tractors

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One of the 1736A Tractors used by KRC Farming to haul logs to the mill

KRC Farming was among the first customers to buy Bell Series 5 tractors

In January 2019, a tornado hit a farm near Panbult in Mpumalanga levelling standing pine timber ranging in age from eight to 25 years, breaking the trees off as if they were matchsticks.

The farm owners’ problem was then to move this timber out of the compartments to the mill as quickly as possible before blue stain caused by a fungus set in. Blue stain reduces the quality and price of sawn timber and the forest owners needed to salvage as much as they could to recover some value.

Ruan and Christian Paul are the fourth-generation farmers on the land, which they farm with their father Kurt hence the name of the business being KRC Farming.

“Our forefather arrived from Germany with a group of missionaries in 1856. In 1928 his grandson Reginald, our grandfather, bought the land where we still are today as the farm Driehoek”, say Christian. “He started farming poultry and beef cattle and turned to growing black wattle for the tanning and charcoal industries in the 1950s”.

The boys’ father, Kurt, came to the farm after finishing school and his military service in 1987 and started planting pine for saw logs. Today, 60% of the farm is planted with pine trees, 30% is used for regular agricultural crops like maize, and the rest for beef cattle.

“We’re proud to say that we look after the entire cycle of the timber growth, from silviculture to overseeing the thinning processes and eventually the harvesting”, Christian says.

“We give the thinnings and harvesting out to local communities and create jobs. We also do skills transfer and general upliftment while overseeing the expenditure on consumables such as fuel and lubricants that the community needs during these times. In this way, they also learn about money management and financial controls.”

KRC Farming first used agricultural tractors to haul timber to the local sawmill, about 20km away. Then, in 2000, Kurt switched to the Bell 1766 haulage tractor for haulage and Bell 125A loggers for infield loading and at roadside depots.

The farm owned five Bell 1766 Tractors pulling 20-ton double-axle trailers, and all five machines had been rebuilt at some stage. Currently, there are two Bell 125A loggers, four Bell 220A loggers and a new Bell 225F high power logger in constant use.According to Christian, after assessing the damage caused by the tornado, they were desperate for haulage machines as they, fortunately, had spare trailers and could acquire two Bell 1206 4×4 tractors on the used market.

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Bell sales representative Daniel van Huyssteen and Christian Paul with one of the older KRC Farming Bell 1206 tractors

“I remember my dad, Kurt, chatting to our Bell Equipment sales representative, Daniel van Huyssteen, who would lend a big hand by arranging for a new prototype Bell 1736AF tractor to be made available to us as a loan machine and what we experienced firsthand with this new tractor really impressed us”.

The new all-wheel drive Bell 1736AF tractor spent a month at KRC Farming. During that time, it so piqued the Paul brothers’ interest that older brother Ruan kept reminding Van Huyssteen to let them be the first to know when this model was released to the broader market.

“This happened a mere eight months later when Daniel called and told us the good news. In July 2021, we took delivery of two Bell 1736A 4×2 and a Bell 1736AF 4×4 tractors. We believe we were one of the first customers to own the new Series 5 Bell tractors”, Christian says smiling.

“Their performance has been superb, and each has clocked around 1,500 hours, with the Bell 1736AF used for extraction from infield to the roadside and the two Bell 1736A machines used for the haul to the mill”.

Depending on the application, the fuel burn of between 6 and 8.5 litres an hour has left the KRC team well-satisfied considering the current fuel cost.

“We feel we did a wise thing by buying these Bell 1736 tractors with extended warranties to three years or 6,000 hours on the wet drivetrains. Bell Equipment’s locally based mechanic in Mkhondo, Stefan Coetzer, really keeps his hand on the machines and sees to it that the correct service kits, consumables and replacement parts are always in stock”, Christian says.

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The hard working 1736AF Tractor on its way from infield to roadside

“We may consider replacing the Bell Tractors once the warranty has run out, but until then, we believe they will give us an excellent return on our investment.”

“To our collective minds and having used many other tractor models, the Bell 1736A and AF models are the best tractors Bell Equipment has ever built.”

Christian is of the guarded opinion that with the price difference on the all-wheel drive Bell 1736AF not being that much more than the two-wheel drive model, they should have considered a total all-wheel drive fleet as the all-wheel drive can be switched on and off.

The farm also owns a used Bell B20B articulated dump truck (ADT), fitted with a 20,000-litre water tank to fight forest and veld fires. Two older Bell ADTs, a Bell B17C and B25C, respectively, are used to haul fill material to maintain the many roads crisscrossing the farm.

Source: WoodBiz Africa (Page 10 – 12)

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KRC Farming was among the first customers to buy Bell Series 5 tractors

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