Honda duo provides ideal solution for Northamptonshire farm

Written by Administrator from Farming Monthly National


A Honda Pioneer UTV and a Fourtrax ATV are both essential to the smooth running of a family-owned livestock farm on the Leicestershire/Northamptonshire border.

Trading as EM Eaton & Son, the Eaton family has farmed the 100ha farm for five generations. Jason Eaton manages the farm with his parents Keith and Beryl, and his sister Rachel. Permanent pasture is used for grazing a 100-head, mixed-breed beef herd finishing stores bought at 9–18 months, as well as 300 breeding ewes and their lambs. The ewes are mainly Welsh mules, and Welsh mule/Texel crosses bred on the farm, and these are put to Texel, Charollais or Beltex rams. Most land is within one block close to the main yard, although there are also fields just over one mile away.


Range of applications

ATVs have been used on the farm for approximately 25 years since Keith bought his first Honda. Now the machinery fleet includes a 2017 Honda Fourtrax 420 ATV and a 2019 Honda Pioneer 700 UTV which are both used daily. The Hondas are light and extremely manoeuvrable, with low ground pressure tyres to protect the ground. Even when the grass is wet and vulnerable to damage from conventional farm vehicles, the two Hondas can travel across the same areas day after day without creating ruts. “Without them, we would have to use a tractor with a rear link box or trailer to carry feed to the field troughs, and that would create unacceptable damage,” stressed Keith.


Most of the time the two machines do similar work. “We use them for livestock checks in the fields and to transport feed and equipment around the farm,” explained Jason. “We also have a mounted sprayer with a narrow boom used for weed control which can be carried on either vehicle, and a Logic Contact trailed weed wiper which applies herbicide from the same sprayer tank. For repairing damaged grass patches, we use a spreader to distribute grass seed which can be mounted on either vehicle.”


User preference

Jason uses the Fourtrax ATV while his father prefers the Pioneer UTV. “I like the convenience of being able to jump on and off the ATV more easily to open and close the field gates and it’s easier to see all around when checking the livestock,” he explained. “Optional heated handlebar grips are very effective and keep my hands warm, even on cold winter days.”

There are five TRX420 Fourtrax models in Honda’s range, and the Eatons chose the TRX420FA6 version. “My previous Honda TRX420 was a 2wd model which performed well, but we felt that selectable 2wd and 4wd would be an advantage for wet, muddy conditions. This model also has independent rear suspension with two shock absorbers, and we felt this would optimise handling and ride quality when carrying heavy loads,” Jason continued.

Fourtrax TRX420FA6

Engine – Petrol 420cc, liquid-cooled, electronic fuel injection

Transmission – 5-speed with selectable auto/manual modes

Drive – Selectable 2wd/4wd with TraxLok and torque sensing front differential. Shaft drive to the front and rear wheels.

Carrying capacity – Front rack 33kg. Rear rack 66kg.

Towing capacity – 384kg

Return to Honda

The farm’s Pioneer 700-2 UTV was purchased in early 2019. “After owning several Honda ATVs, I decided that a UTV with a rear load bed would offer advantages, but Honda didn’t offer UTVs at that time so it meant changing brands,” explained Keith. “The first UTV we purchased had a belt-drive automatic transmission which caused problems. We do most of our own servicing but replacing the belt and setting the correct tension is complex and must be done by the dealer. Belt wear rates were high, so it proved expensive to maintain.”


The belt driven UTV was changed for another brand with a diesel engine and hydrostatic transmission. “It was much heavier which was a problem on soft, wet ground, and the diesel engine was noisy and created lots of vibration,” Keith continued. “After a while, the transmission became unreliable, so we traded the vehicle in for the Honda Pioneer which had recently been added to the range. The petrol engine is smoother and quieter, and the mechanical torque converter transmission and shaft drive remain completely reliable.”

Pioneer 700-2

Engine – Petrol 675cc, liquid-cooled, electronic fuel injection

Transmission – 3-speed, mechanical torque converter

Drive – Selectable 2wd/4wd with diff lock and mechanical shaft drive to front and rear wheels.

Carrying capacity – 386kg

Towing capacity – 680kg

Seats – 2

Honda offers various weather protection options, and the Eatons selected a full cab with an electric wiper and a heater.

Keith said the Pioneer is lighter to ride and handles better than the diesel UTV he had previously. “It travels everywhere that the ATV does without making a mess, and I’m really pleased we opted for the cab. As I’ve got older it’s become more difficult to walk long distances around the farm, but the Pioneer allows me to look after the livestock all year around and I stay warm and dry in the cab. It’s comfortable, easy to drive and it has plenty of power, and the sheep dogs love riding on the rear cargo bed to the fields.”

Excellent local dealer

Although Jason services most of the farm’s machinery – he says he is always confident of the back-up from local main Honda dealer, Sharnford Tractors Ltd. “We deal with Director Jamie Ismay most of the time and find him very helpful. If we need parts they are usually in stock, and the knowledgeable workshop team is always happy to provide practical advice. The combination of Honda reliability and such a good local dealer means that when these machines are due for updating, we are unlikely to consider other brands.”

Dealer view

“We took on the Honda ATV franchise in 2007 to complement the other quality brands we offer, and it was quickly apparent that Honda ATV sales and servicing would become a significant part of our business,” Jamie Ismay explained. “We were delighted when Honda added Pioneer UTVs to the line-up, as we could satisfy the needs of customers in an even wider range of applications.

“The two-seat Pioneer is powerful and extremely versatile, and in many cases these machines have replaced farm pick-ups for transport around the farm. The petrol engine is smoother and quieter than competitor diesel models and the performance is ideal for livestock duties as there is no fear of being out-run.”

Reliable and economical

Since arriving less than five years ago, the TRX420FA6 has worked 1,644 hours and travelled 16,500kms and it has only suffered one breakdown – caused by mice chewing through an electrical cable. The Pioneer has recorded 2,600 hours and travelled 16,000kms in three years, and has only needed routine servicing.

“Both Hondas are very economical,” commented Keith. “We fill a 25-litre fuel container once per week for the Pioneer UTV, and another every two weeks for the Fourtrax ATV, but use more in the lambing season when the machines are often used day and night. Compared to our previous diesel UTV, the Pioneer’s fuel consumption is similar, but it’s quicker which saves time, and better to ride.

“We would definitely choose the same machines again as they are both ideal for our farm.”

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