Highways and byways

What started out as a fencing operation for local farmers has evolved into extensive work within highways and infrastructure for south Wales contractor, Gareth Jones.

His business, GT Jones Contracting based at Crickhowell, Powys, currently handles site clearance, tree felling, drainage and ducting, plus landscaping, hydro-seeding and land reinstatement.

Seedbed preparation gets underway, ahead of re-seeding with grass and wild flower mixes.

The backbone of the Jones operation is a fleet of seven Valtras, accompanied by a variety of implements, plus excavators and attachments, to add functionality to the business.

“We operate using white diesel with our highways projects, so fuel efficiency is as important to me as reliability,” says Gareth.

“Fuel is a considerable cost to my business, so we need to make the most of it, and the Valtra’s don’t disappoint.”

“Where we don’t need full power – for example, pulling a fuel bowser or tipping trailer on civil engineering tasks – these tractors are extremely frugal, which is important when you can clock-up 10–12 hours/day over a six-day week.”

Land reinstatement after civil engineering and utility projects calls for a flexible approach with available tractor power and implements.

Gareth’s loyalty to the Valtra brand grew from his family farming background, where his dad’s Valmet 865 left a lasting impression. This led Gareth to a Valmet 800 then a 6400 model – both bought secondhand over 20 years ago, to help the fledgling business.

“These tractors proved to be straightforward, robust and reliable,” he says.

“And it’s what has kept me with the brand. I have no set replacement policy, we run our tractors as long as they remain reliable.”

High hours do not cause concern for the Powys operator. An early T120 model had clocked up an impressive 12,000 hours, and was only replaced because a larger, more powerful model was needed.

“Otherwise, it would probably still be here,” he adds.

“We have had experience of other makes through hired-in horsepower, but there’s little that can get close to the operating costs and the reliability of a Valtra.”

GT Jones Contracting’s current fleet includes an N154, three T153s, a T174 and a T213 all in Active specification, while a T203 Direct model offers reverse drive capability. And a set of forestry tyres lets the reverse-drive T punch well above its weight.

“The combination of reverse drive with a CVT gearbox is something that really suits our Seppi forestry mulcher,” he adds.

“It’s hard work, but we can be precise and productive with it.”

The business also operates a Kesla whole-tree chipper, a BLEC stone burier, a MeriCrusher for stabilisation and rejuvenation, and a Kivi-Pekka stone collector has just been added to the portfolio.

“The heavy PTO work is something that these tractors take in their stride, and the Sigma Power just adds more muscle to the tasks,” he says.

“We’ve only recently stepped up to buying new, through J Davies & Son at Pencader, with our N154 and T174 models, and so far, these are proving popular with my operators.”

“There was some skepticism from buying a four-cylinder N Series, but it’s a short, light tractor with a very big punch,” he says.

“Regular servicing is essential to maintain performance and reliability. But so is good quality, clean fuel – and the condition of our fuel filters does back that up.”