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Profile: Murphy NZ’s Kubota fleet

Family-run business Murphy NZ Ltd has five Kubota tractors in its fleet to help plant and harvest the pungent bulbs

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Murphy NZ has five Kubota tractors in its fleet

There’s a common denominator in the fleet that helps plant and harvest the peppery products of New Zealand’s largest garlic and shallot producer. Family-run business Murphy NZ Ltd (formally Marlborough Garlic) began in Marlborough and has now expanded into Canterbury.

Field manager Rob Fisher says the company produces garlic on leased ground near Darfield and Sheffield in Canterbury and produces shallots in Marlborough.

“We’re the biggest garlic grower in the country. We sell 95% of our products in the domestic market. Chances are if you buy New Zealand garlic in the supermarket it will be ours.

“Along with fresh garlic and shallots, we sell Garlic Noir, which is slow-cooked and fermented black garlic.” For those unfamiliar with shallots, Rob describes them as a mild onion that combines the flavour of a sweet onion with a touch of garlic.

They can be used in place of onions and have a more subtle flavour. (He even offers a recipe tip – wrap shallots in streaky bacon and pop them in the oven until the bacon is cooked).

Rob says the move south into Canterbury was necessary because it’s important to grow garlic in fresh ground.

“We need to change the ground we grow garlic and shallots in every two years. They are susceptible to white rot and growing them in fresh soil helps to protect the health of the crop.”

Murphy NZ Ltd uses five tractors to do most of the tasks required to grow the pungent bulbs: a 125-hp Kubota M126GX, two 110-hp Kubota M110GXs, and two older Kubota M95Xs.

“We like Kubota tractors because of their versatility. They give us the ability to easily vary our PTO and ground speeds,” says Rob.

“The three-tiered gearbox gives us a high, medium, and low range and a total of 24 gears, so we can always find the right gear for every application. They have enough hydraulic power to do everything we need.

“We also took the option of installing quick hitch units on the three-point linkages. Our Kubota dealer, Norwood Blenheim, installed them for us.

“Norwood also installed Trimble GPS and a self-steer system in our two M110GX tractors. We use a satellite RTK service and it gives us millimetre accuracy.”

The two M110GX tractors are based in Canterbury where they run precision planters and specialist garlic harvesters. One of their great attributes is their manoeuvrability because it means they can work in tight headlands.

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Head of Murphy NZ Patrick Murphy and head machinery operator Paul Bellamy 

The M126GX and M95Xs are based in Marlborough, and Rob says the M126GX is a real workhorse.

“In Canterbury, we bring in contractors to prepare the ground and spray the garlic crop, but in Marlborough, we do all that ourselves.

The Kubota 126 has a front-end loader and it’s very busy during the shallot harvest. It also pulls a power harrow and a set of large discs and it runs the sprayer. “It is user friendly and very versatile.

The cabin has plenty of room and lots of glass, so there is 360-degree visibility. It also has good fuel economy. That’s important because we grow the shallots in Awatere, which is 45 minutes from the yard.”

Rob says Norwood Blenheim provides good support and looks after the Kubota tractors with regular maintenance. Murphy NZ Ltd even brings the two M110GXs up to Marlborough after the harvest to give them a full service.

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