Despite the constraints of a global pandemic, one UK manufacturer has enjoyed a successful 2021, with a record number of machines being exported to Australasia.
Mastenbroek, a UK manufacturer of trenchers, has this month seen the third of its trenching machines shipped to Australasia start work.
Designed to allow contractors to improve the sub-surface drainage on agricultural land, Mastenbroek's trenchers are rising in popularity in New Zealand and Australia, with KT Mattschoss becoming the latest company to import one of the UK-made machines.
Based in Robinvale, Victoria and specialising in drainage, excavations and irrigation, KT Mattschoss received the Mastenbroek 20/15 last month, with the entire sales process being undertaken during the pandemic.
Kurt Mattschoss predominately installs subsurface land drainage for growers of table grapes, citrus, pistachios, almonds and avocados, and open paddock irrigation. The company, which is ten years old and employs four full-time members of staff, also installs overhead and low-level sprinklers and irrigation systems with pipes ranging from 15mm to 1m in diameter.
Kurt, who is the third generation of his family to run a drainage business, has seen a surge in demand from local growers looking to invest in drainage systems to improve their yields in the last two years.
Kurt initially contacted Mastenbroek in 2016 after hearing positive comments from other contractors using the company's machines.
"When he first approached us, Kurt was looking at our 10/12D tracked chain trencher, which is used to drain sports fields and orchards," says Christopher Pett, Mastenbroek's general manager. "At that time, the business wasn't there to warrant the investment. However, over the next three years, Kurt built the company to such a size that the investment made sense, and in 2019, he contacted us again.
"During our exchange of emails and telephone conversations, it became apparent that Kurt's business was very similar to another Mastenbroek customer, Awakeri Drainage in New Zealand.
"Brayden Bishop of Awakeri Drainage operates a Mastenbroek 20/15 trencher, so I put the two of them in contact, and Kurt arranged to visit New Zealand in February 2020. Unfortunately, travel restrictions imposed during the pandemic meant the visit to New Zealand wasn't possible.
"However, Brayden and Kurt spoke on the phone and in October 2020, Kurt placed an order for a modified Mastenbroek 20/15."
From the initial enquiry, Kurt was convinced that including Trimble GPS machine control, rather than a traditional laser system, would significantly increase the machine's versatility and productivity. This was proven in December 2020 when Kurt travelled to Tasmania and spent several days with another Mastenbroek user, Will Whishaw of WD Drainage.
"In normal times, I would have travelled to the UK and taken a tour of Mastenbroek's factory, seen its machines operating in the field and spoken at length to their technical team. As we know, that wasn't possible," says Kurt. "So, every stage of the process was undertaken remotely and then at the end with a visit to Tasmania. I think talking to Will and Bayden was really influential. They are both using Mastenbroek trenchers and are entirely independent. They weren't on commission and weren't influenced in any way by Christopher and his team. They just told me the truth. It was very reassuring and convinced me that placing the order was the right thing to do.
"We have been fortunate in the fact that Robinvale and Euston is a very prosperous agricultural area, and the majority of our work is servicing the local farmers and producers here. We haven't had to travel very far to keep busy! With different harvest times between the different crops, we can work all year round. There is a lot of development happening locally which allows us to do the larger developments in the summer time when most harvests are running.
"We have completed projects in South Australia including Loxton, Renmark and Paringa, the Swan Hill region and around Sunraysia.
"This new machine will now give us great opportunity to travel and complete large scale projects nationally."
The 20/15 trencher supplied to Kurt will allow him to operate in orchards and vineyards. The machine also features an electro-hydraulic proportional machine control system and Trimble® GPS software for controlling trench depth and grade and autosteer together with topographical survey, design and mapping.