EDITORIAL – The Land.
In the professional farming game, it’s generally hard to resist the lure of big, brand spanking new machinery, but a Melbourne based company is making its mark nationally, with a thriving market for small, budget priced tractors. The Australia wide boom in small area, or lifestyle, farms in the past decade has opened up a niche market for small, easy-to-use tractors, plus other farm machinery sales and support activities, that has been successfuly tapped by SOTA Tractors.
SOTA (an acronym for ‘state of the art’) began importing tractors in 2003, originally supplying a fledging dealer network, but according to SOTA director, Bruce Cooper, many machinery dealers were slow to recognise the market potential. “Traditional dealers were accustomed to working with career farmers. They didn’t really relate to inquiries from people who may never have even started a tractor or used a power take off attachment before,” he said. “Sota was the first tractor company to realise and embrace the fact that small acreage owners required guidance and support because they usually came from non-agricultural backgrounds. We became the first small-acreage specialist in Australia.”
What began as a rubber tyre and components importer in the late 1980s has now grown to a serious farm machinery enterprise. Starting with fully supported, remanufactured, low-hour, secondhand Kubota tractors, SOTA soon expanded to new tractors, becoming the exclusive importer for the APOLLO range of tractors. APOLLO tractors are manufactured by the huge Changfa Corporation – the world’s biggest manufacturer of diesel engines (a million every year) – which boasts 10,000 employees and a plant covering 162 hectares.
“We’re very excited by the APOLLO range. We believe they are the best tractor to come out of China, offering a lot of metal for your money. The APOLLOs are heavy duty, powerful machines and are fully featured, including a self levelling, four-in-one front end loader as standard kit.” Mr. Cooper said. “Our typical customer could be a teacher, solicitor, a businessman or just about anybody with a yearning to own a bit of country. Most don’t need an expensive, new tractor. In many cases, they are not sure what they really need on their lifestyle block, but they do not want to waste money on high tech gear they’ll hardly use.”
“SOTA is able to offer a fully supported remanufactured Kubota and loader package, which is usually about 60 per cent cheaper than a comparitively new machine. Alternatively, we can offer a brand new APOLLO package.”
The tractor and implements are prepared at service centers in Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney and then sold as ready-to-work packages with up to eight attachments, including a front end loader, going as far afield as Western Australia, Papua New Guinea and Norfolk Island.
Mr Cooper said the business was continually adding new product lines and had just become the exclusive importer for the Italian Del Morino range of small acreage implements.
“Del Morino is a premium Italian brand that has been in production for 130 years,” he said. Del Morino tractor implements were specifically designed for small acreage compact tractors. “They have never manufactured implements for broad acre tractors. The benefit of this is that the implements are not over-engineered. The gauge of steel is appropriate for a compact tractor and the gearboxes purr like a Porsche. Better still, the prices are far lower than other Italian implements on the market.”
Written by Andrew Marshall.