Courses for horses with Unimog
The grass is always greener on racecourses that feature in Victoria’s Spring Racing Carnival in Australia, thanks partly to a bright orange Unimog.
Along with ample rain and clever groundskeepers, the distinctive Mercedes-Benz spreader truck helps keep the grass at many of the state’s major racecourses healthy thanks to a good dose of nutrients.
The Euro 6 rated machine is the very first version of the new generation 400 and 500 series Unimogs to land in Australia and belongs to Noel Squires, who runs an operation called The Spreaders out of Werribee, just south of Melbourne.
Squires is called on to spread a range of nutrients onto the track surface just before the big races at major tracks around Victoria.
“We spread gypsum, fertliser, lime and sand on tracks as part of regular maintenance,” he says.
“About a month out from each cup we are called on to apply fertiliser to make sure there is a good track surface because nobody wants the track to be average. They also need to make it nice and bright and green so it looks good at the track and on television,” Noel says.
His new U430 Unimog uses the latest generation OM936 7.7-litre six-cylinder turbo diesel engine that meets the stringent Euro6 emissions standard and generates 299hp (220kW) and 1,200Nm of torque.
It runs an eight-speed automated manual transmission. Noel also ordered the optional EasyDrive hydrostatic drive system that can be engaged for a smoother drive experience at low speeds to help with spreading accuracy.
The new 400 and 500 series Unimog has been substantially upgraded with a new-look interior that features a new look dashboard and instrument cluster, a multi-function steering wheel and an upgraded cabin heating and cooling system.
It retains the Unimog’s famed offroad ability thanks to constant fourwheel drive, central tyre inflation and special portal axles that sit higher than traditional axles and allow for greater ground clearance.
The U430 is not the only Unimog in the Werribee stable and Noel and his fellow driver, Gianni Caon, swap between the newly arrived truck and U2450 made in 2002. These are just two of the ten Unimogs Mr Squires has owned since 1982 and has used for work on racing tracks, vegetable rows, golf courses and crop fields.
Asked why he is so committed to the Unimog, which was invented for farm work back in 1946, Noel says it was the perfect tool for his various jobs.
“They always do what we need to do across all the areas we work in,” Noel says.
“We have got something that, without a big compromise on any part of our work, can cover everything, rather than having something that might suit this but doesn’t suit that.”
The Unimog’s ground clearance was also a factor because the spreaders must straddle vegetable row dirt mounds that sit 30cm to 40cm high, Mr Squires says.
“We want ground clearance in the horticultural industry,” he says.
“If you are working on cultivated ground or working over plants, you need ground clearance and the Unimog has it.”