From Farmall to Quadtrac – LeaderBrand continues Case IH heritage
04 Sep 2020
Richard and Gordon McPhail’s grandfather
bought the Farmall tractor parked in the foyer of LeaderBrand’s Gisborne plant.
For the company’s senior managers, the Farmall represents a family tie with
Case IH that goes back decades.
The recent delivery of the Quadtrac
through the Giltrap AgriZone dealership continues the McPhail’s treasured tie
with the brand.
The arrival of the Quadtrac at
LeaderBrand’s home base in Gisborne is a significant investment for the food
company, which supplies round-the-clock produce to major retailers nationwide.
LeaderBrand has farms in Gisborne,
Waikato, and Canterbury, growing about 3,500ha of fresh produce each year for
process, domestic and international customers.
The Quadtrac adds to a growing fleet of
Case IH machines around LeaderBrand’s paddocks and plant, helping LeaderBrand
to meet constant commitments to major supply partners including Foodstuffs,
Progressive Enterprises and Subway.
Other Case IH machines in the
LeaderBrand fleet include multiple Maxxum 110 ROPS and cab units for a variety
of applications from spraying, planting, fertiliser application and product
transport, two Puma 165 CVT for bed forming and a Magnum 310 CVT for cultivation.
Most of the brand is in Gisborne but
machines are also spread across LeaderBrand sites in Matamata and Ashburton.
In Gisborne, where the
vertically-integrated LeaderBrand was founded in 1975 by Richard and Gordon’s
father, Murray, large parts of the rich, fertile alluvial soils the city are
devoted to crops including lettuce, broccoli, asparagus, spinach, Buttercup
Squash, pumpkin and sweetcorn, as well as kiwifruit, grapes and lemons.
LeaderBrand chief executive Richard
Burke says the business is continually challenging itself to produce fresh food
at good values so yield is key. And yield is driven by soil health, which is
where Case IH machines come in.
“Technology improvements and scientific
gains means we are always learning better ways to do things. What worked 10
years ago has been superseded and our knowledge has improved The Quadtrac,
coupled with single pass cultivation technology out of the USA, allows us to
work ground with less cultivation,” he says.
improvements and scientific gains means we are always learning better ways to
do things. What worked 10 years ago has been superseded and our knowledge has
improved The Quadtrac, coupled with single pass cultivation technology out of
the USA, allows us to work ground with less cultivation,” Richard Bourke says.
In winter, LeaderBrand harvests about
300,000 head of broccoli a week from its fields in Gisborne, Bombay, and
Ashburton, packed into about 10,000 crates. Freshness is everything in
LeaderBrand’s business, so it’s vital to harvest and process produce like this
as fast and efficiently as possible.
Virtually every product group is
year-round, except seasonal squash and corn. The machines must be fit for
purpose as conditions vary soil and climatic conditions vary between
LeaderBrand’s production sites around the country.
In Gisborne, for example, heavy soil is
too wet for winter groundwork, while at Matamata it’s too light to turn over in
summer. So, the solution is to prepare those soils in opposite seasons. In some
respects, that regional variation gives the company a buffer against the elements.
Plots around Gisborne can be as large as
40ha, many of which are planted in corn and squash over summer. The company
leases a substantial amount of its land in the region and works with
leaseholders on long-term improvements to that leasehold property, including
soil testing for Ph to assess optimal cropping conditions and levelling works
to improve drainage and productivity.
The Quadtrac is well-equipped for its
LeaderBrand workload, more than 20 years of industry-leading track technology
can be found in every Quadtrac tractor. The machine features four individually
driven, positive-drive oscillating tracks and exclusive five-axle design which
distributes weight evenly and consistently for increased traction with less
Each track maintains constant contact
with the ground, giving the producer a great ride, optimal pressure, superior
flotation, and better traction. For added appeal, tri‑point oscillation offers
strength and durability.
LeaderBrand employs 200 permanent staff, with an
additional 300 seasonal staff through summer harvesting. Productivity targets
never stop, with demand for product from plant and customers. a big day of
spinach harvesting yields 10 tonnes, for instance. On a tour of LeaderBrand’s
plant, where the company has one of the country’s most modern salad production
facilities, plant manager Richard McPhail summed up the demands of supplying a
fresh, secure pipeline of food to customers, day in, day out. : “This is a
warehouse, in and out. We don’t want produce sitting around,” McPhail says.
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