Tom Butler runs an agricultural contracting business specialising in hedge-cutting, spraying and fertiliser spreading on the border between Waterford, Tipperary and Kilkenny.
Based outside Piltown, Co Kilkenny, with decades of experience hedge-cutting and general contracting under his belt, Tom has always run an efficient business. He operates mostly as a one man band until the hedge-cutting season starts, when two cutters are needed.
During the spring and summer, Tom is kept busy spraying cereals and grassland as well as spreading fertiliser on hire for farmers in the locality. In total, Tom sprays in the region of 2,000 acres annually and spreads 600t of fertiliser, the latter done using a Rauch spreader kitted out with the latest GPS section control technology.
Tom started out hedge-cutting in 1999 with an Arbocut hedge cutter which he paired up at the time with a Ford 7840.
Tom said: “I started out with a second-hand Arbocut hedge cutter, it was high-spec machine for its era with a telescopic arm and joystick controls. I kept it on for years and to be fair it served me very well.
“As time passed I grew the customer base and workload increased. I found myself cutting most days during the open season. So, I decided to trade the hedge cutter for a new machine while it was still relatively fresh.”
While on the lookout for a replacement machine, he had heard good reports about the Twose brand and noticed a few units appearing in the locality. Curious, he did his homework and spoke with local dealer Kill Agri, later striking a deal.
“A combination of factors attracted me towards Twose. It was a mix of the product, value for money and dealer backup,” Tom said.
Roll the clock forward and he is on his fifth and sixth Twose hedge cutters, currently running a TW 65-5 fixed arm and a TW 67T-5 telescopic machine. The main difference between the two is that telescopic machine offers 1m more reach.
Build and design
The TW 65-5 and TW 67T-5 are the two largest offerings from Twose from its flagship 5-series lineup. The two machines are equipped with a 65hp hydraulic system. Both feature oil coolers for automatic temperature regulation of the oil within the 200l reservoirs.
Tom said the oil coolers automatically reverse every 15 minutes to remove any debris from their cooling packs. “One of the earlier Twose machines didn’t come standard with an oil cooler; it used to run quite hot. We fitted it with a cooler which wasn’t long solving the issue.”
Both machines are mounted via three-point linkage as opposed to axle brackets, something which Twose doesn’t offer as an option like most brands. According to Tom, stability hasn’t been an issue, noting that he is happy with the three-point linkage mounting so far. “In all my years working Twose, I’ve never had to take a welder to any of the machines to repair cracks or breakages, therefore i cannot fault the build their quality. All of the damage to hedge cutters can often be down to the operator. If you treat a machine with care and how it was designed to be treated then there will generally be no issue.”
Since the start, low-pressure hydraulic joystick controls have been Tom’s go-to controls for each of his machines: “The controls are precise and smooth which is important. They’re the ideal middle ground between the standard cables and the full electric proportional option.”
Tom said quite a few elements of his machines share similarities with McConnel’s and in some cases parts are identical. This is no secret considering both brands are manufactured in the one factory and are owned by the one parent company.
Both machines are equipped with Twose’s 1.2m sliding mount flail head and heavy duty rotors.
Tom’s flail of choice is the reversible T-flail for its versatility. A particular feature he likes about these heads is that they’re belt driven as opposed to directly driven via hydraulic motor.
Tom also has a saw head and bracket, modified to fit the arm of the TW 65-5 which he uses for cutting heavier branches.
Tom is happy with how the Twose machines have served him. “I have no regrets going down the route of Twose. Ever since I bought my first Twose machine I’ve found it very hard to fault them. The backup from Kill Agri is top class too which is important. They’re not the heaviest machine on the market, yet they’re heavy enough and strong enough in all the right areas. The TW 65-5 weights about 1.5t and the TW 67T-5 weighs about 1.6t. I’ve always run them on a New Holland TS115 and a New Holland TM115, neither of which are classed as big tractors nowadays but are plenty heavy enough for the task, I feel. I put wheel weights on the right rear wheel of each of the tractors just to improve the balance.
“I don’t feel the need for more modern tractors for such a job. The cabs on older tractors too tend to be positioned further back leaving visibility of the head better. What you do need though is air conditioning!”
Today, Twose is part of the giant US Alamo Group which owns brands such as Bomford, McConnel and Spearhead. In 2016 Twose merged with McConnel to create a specialist grassland and arable machinery division.
However, while there are some similarities and sharing of parts, both brands remain separate, each with their own dealers and distributors.
Both brands continue to be built in Ludlow in Shropshire while Farmec Ireland is the long-standing Irish importer.