Safety on orchards aim of driving courses

Polaris orchardised vehicles have a lower centre of gravity and are wider and longer than quad bikes.

Courses aimed at improving the safe operation of side-by-side vehicles in kiwifruit orchards will be held on a Katikati orchard over six days in February.

Jacks Machinery, Polaris agents of Whakatane, has engaged Andrew Simpson of Carnz Training Ltd to conduct three, two-day courses attended by up to 20 trainees from the post-harvest and quality assurance sectors, and the owners and staff of KW Kiwi Ltd.

“The idea for the not-for-profit courses grew out of discussions with Seeka about the need for training,” says Steve Donoghue of Jacks Machinery.

“We initially planned a single two-day course but the interest was so strong that quickly increased to three, two-day courses. The main focus is safety in the orchard and the industry migration away from quad bikes.”

The training sessions, which begin with a day of theory and instruction about the unique features of the Polaris side-by-side vehicles, followed by a day of practical experience, begin on Monday February 12 and run until Saturday, February 17.

“Those who take part have the chance to gain up to 17 NZQA credits and will learn not only the safe operation of the Polaris vehicles, but also gain thorough instruction in the best use of them to prolong the life of the vehicles.”

Familiar configuration

Steve says there is a growing interest in the use of Polaris orchardised vehicles because of their lower centre of gravity, the fact they are wider and longer than quad bikes and from the driver’s point of view, have a familiar configuration to most passenger cars.

“The driver is sitting as they would in any other vehicle and has a steering wheel, brakes and foot throttle with which to operate the vehicle.”

Depending on their specifications, the Polaris vehicles can carry up to six passengers, and be used to transport small to large loads, and tow a trailer.

Steve says Jacks Machinery is grateful to Stephen Kenna and Phillipa Wright who have made their orchard available for the courses. “It’s an ideal location as the orchard has a mix of contour which will give those taking part the opportunity to experience driving in different conditions.”

Driver safety

Carnz director and training manager Andrew Simpson, (more commonly known as Simmo) has more than two decades of experience as a trainer and a reputation for providing training through sessions which are both comprehensive and fun.

He is a registered MITO Assessor, Primary ITO AgExcel Endorsed Trainer, and an NZTA Registered Driving Instructor and Testing Officer and is passionate about keeping all drivers safe behind the wheel. Simmo also prides himself in keeping abreast with all the technological advances by engaging with manufacturers of vehicles and machines to ensure training is up-to-date and relevant to the vehicle types being trained on.

Last year Simmo conducted the practical demonstrations for Polaris NZ at the Central Districts and Mystery Creek Fieldays.


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