It came, it saw, it ploughed …

… that, in short, describes the career of the Unimog at the Fraatz farm.

The Fraatz farm is a diversified agricultural business: In addition to the 260 hectares of arable land, the family business, which Michael Fraatz runs together with his father Bill and his uncle Tilo, also includes cattle breeding as well as piglet rearing with subsequent pig fattening. The working days of Michael Fraatz, his father and uncle, in the quiet community of Pölzig in Thuringia, are correspondingly varied. But whoever is doing what job on what day, they will most likely be using one of the three Unimog units currently forming part of the Fraatz family's fleet.

Ploughing proved to be a core competency.

Michael Fraatz recalls the first Unimog acquired by the farm - at the time still run by his parents. “My father still enjoys telling the tale of how, almost 20 years ago, he more or less spontaneously arranged a demonstration to test a Unimog as a ploughing rig.” It was an enthu­siastic representative from the Beutlhauser commercial vehicle sales agency who turned up at the farm with a Unimog and promptly built the plough onto it. After just a few laps of the field, Bill Fraatz was so impressed by how easily the Unimog handled the ploughing that a short time later he had acquired his own U 2100 for the farm. “And of course we are still running the old girl today,” reports Michael Fraatz with a smile, “but now she is used more for carrying and tow­ing jobs.”

Six months ago, the Fraatz farm added to its fleet a brand new 529, featuring a wide range of farm machinery mountings, ordered from AS Baugeräte Söder in Wildflecken. “We really do basically everything here with the Unimog, including all the soil working, sowing, fertilis­ing and plant protection, as well as forage and grain harvesting,” explains Michael, as he attaches the liquid manure tank in the pig yard. Because Michael Fraatz believes the Unimog is also ideal for muck-spreading too: “When it comes to off-road mobility, manoeuvra­bility and fuel economy, the Unimog is superior to a conventional tractor in every respect, and it's much more comfortable to drive.” He then sets off from the yard, towing the liquid manure to spread it on a field in the neighbouring village. He is particularly delighted with the performance of the large power take-off shaft, which he ordered as an optional extra. Revealing his affinity for engineering matters, he explains: “The PTO means that I always have exactly the revs I need, whatever implement I’m using, so I can take full advantage of the high speed achievable with the Unimog.”

In terms of off-road capability, manoeuvrability and fuel economy, the Unimog is superior to a tractor in every respect, and you have much more comfort at the wheel.

Michael Fraatz, Farmer

In addition to the flexibility which enables the 529 to handle all work reliably and quickly, Michael Fraatz is also impressed by its load capacity. That is particularly noticeable at harvest time, because in addition to 20 hectares of forage crops for the farm's own cows and pigs, the core business includes grain, rapeseed and sugar beet cultivation. “When we are harvest­ing the 260 hectares, the addition­al load space of the Unimog with two Unimog trailer rigs means we can quickly pick the entire crop,” Michael Fraatz reports with satisfaction.

Junior boss Michael Fraatz enjoys working with the Unimog.
After mowing, the U 529 has to go onto the field with the rake.
The U 529 proves itself as a tractor before the heavy liquid manure barrel.
Junior boss Michael Fraatz enjoys working with the Unimog.

The Unimog handles the entire forage harvest.

The liquid manure tank is now back at the yard, because the plan for the afternoon is to swathe the clover cut the previous day, which will then be used as fodder for the cattle. The Fraatz farm covers most of its cattle feed requirements by cultivating catch crops and clover.

The swath rake is quickly mounted, and the Unimog is soon on its way to its next job. “It's vital for us to get the clover in before the next rain comes,” explains Michael as he climbs into the Unimog.

Despite the long working days and the many and varied tasks that Michael Fraatz, his father Bill and his uncle Tilo have to cope with every day, there never seems to be any real sense of hectic disturbance to the rural idyll on the farm in Pölzig. And who knows: maybe the new 529 will soon see yet another addition to its capabilities.

Text: Christian Bonk, photos: Henrik Morlock

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