We received a top-of-the-line Ventrac 4200 turbo diesel tractor from Steve Borntrager, an employee of Glenco Equipment in Sarasota, Fla. First off, this machine was very simple to use. I must admit that I am not an experienced tractor driver. I have several employees that are, but I personally don’t have that much experience. Steve gave me a 10-minute tutorial about how to use the product, and as soon as he left I hopped on and had it mastered without any issues.

This machine is very versatile. With over 30 attachments, you can use it for almost everything. We had the ability to test several attachments and they all worked well. My most experienced equipment operator, Jonathan Eberhard, was surprised at how well all of the attachments worked. We thought that only a few would work well and some of them would not be of much use, but we were wrong. The dual-wheel kit hugged steep hills that we were never able to mow before with conventional zero-turn riders. The Versa-Loader was quick and easy to use. The mower deck had a great cut and along with speed of the mower, cut our mow time down by about one-quarter on our larger properties of 10 acres or more. The best attachment on the machine was the brush cutter (Tough Cut Mower). It can cut through almost anything. We took the brush cutter through an area on our nursery that hasn’t been cleared in 20 years, and it cut through the underbrush, small trees and dead branches like it was cutting grass. However, one thing that we believe is still needed for this tractor is a backhoe. It would then be the complete all-around tractor.

Photos by Norman Ripper.

The Ventrac is also affordable. We can easily purchase a new Ventrac in place of two new zero-turn riders and it should be able to handle about the same workload. The bonus is that when it isn’t being used for finish mowing or slope mowing, it can be used for projects. We can use it for stump grinding, heavy brush clearing, grading, trenching for irrigation and blowing off large parking lots. It also has the ability to be used for a snow blower, but we can’t really find a good use for that here in Orlando. It also makes for a great nursery tractor. We used it to load rocks, mulch and potting soil, along with pulling our carts around the fields. All said, it should pay for itself in the first two months of use, and allow for reduced labor costs at the same time.

One other thing about this machine is that it is tough. We did not take it easy on our demo unit. We pushed together a .25-acre pile of logs and brush into a small, manageable burn pile using the Versa-Loader. We destroyed huge sections of thick, 6-foot-tall scrub palms, and then graded the area perfectly in less than an hour. We ran it all day, every day, the whole time we had it with no issues.

At Helping Hand Lawn Care, Inc., we have decided to make a new Ventrac our first large purchase of the summer, mainly because we can use it all the time for everything we do, and we can add more attachments as we decide to add new services without breaking the bank. With the cost of gas going up every day and the insecurity in our industry, it only makes sense to own one machine that can do everything instead of several machines that can only do one or two specific duties.

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