• Dinniss Communications

Outstanding in its field

Operating as a family business for more than 50 years, Otautau-based Watson Farm Spraying is known as a reliable provider of spraying services for the local dairy industry, backed by four trusty 4WD Canters.

Otautau is a small farming, forestry and milling town located on the western edge of the Southland Plains on the banks of the Aparima River, 40km north west of Invercargill.

Working in a 50km radius, Watson Farm Spraying has an established client base, having grown to “a comfortable size” since Scott Watson inherited the business from his dad, who started off with one truck.

With a 2,000-litre tank on the back of each Canter, the team sprays fertiliser, insecticide and weed spray. In the off-season, they keep busy with a side line in sheep dipping and make the most of any downtime by maintaining their own equipment.

That includes the two folding 14-metre booms and spray pumps on the back of each Canter, which, along with a full tank, sit comfortably within the 6T GVM.

“Fully loaded, the truck is carrying around 2.3T. The truck tares around 3.6T, so it works well for us,” says Scott.

When it came to choosing the right truck to build his fleet, Scott considered a range of factors.

“Every paddock we spray is different. There’s always something that will keep you on your toes, so I need trucks that are going to do the job across the board.

“Farmers want to know that contractors are using good gear on their land. They’re happier knowing you’re doing the job with the right equipment, because it means they’re getting better value for money and their land is being well looked after.”

For Scott, having a truck with a shorter wheelbase was important for easier navigation over hilly terrain and through some tight gateways.

“FUSO was the only brand with a factory 2.8-metre wheelbase, and the chassis is 150mm lower than other models on the market, which provides a lower centre of gravity and greater stability. Those features — combined with the suspended driver’s seat — ticked all the right boxes for me.”

With a five-speed manual transmission featuring high / low range, and high-traction tyres, Canter 716 is well-equipped for off-road operation.

Scott has also equipped each truck with GPS and Auto-Section Control on the booms to track work completed and manage spray/fertiliser distribution on crops. This technology, combined with reliable, purpose-built trucks, gives customers peace of mind.

Having followed the fortunes of local farms, the business has enjoyed periods of growth and survived cooldowns along the way. Scott has now found what he calls “a happy medium” that allows time to do what he loves most, alongside managing the business.

“When business is steady, like it is now, it’s a good balance that allows me to get out in the paddocks more often.”

When that does happen, it will always be in a FUSO, says Scott.

“I like having my entire fleet the same. It lets me stay with the same servicing team – Prestige Commercial Vehicles – who know our fleet well and provide consistency, and means the whole team has a strong familiarity when using any of our trucks.

“They’re a good all-round truck and do the job well. I wouldn’t change from FUSO”.