Kubota has found a growing niche by thinking small. Small tractors, that is. The company's 40- to 100-PTO-hp diesel tractors often find homes on the ranchettes, hobby farms and country estates collectively known as sundowners.

But Kubota's tough little machines also are increasingly finding work on large farms too. Even farmers with 5,000 acres can't (or shouldn't) use a 400-hp field tractor for every job.

Here are four new products Kubota showcased at Louisville's National Farm Machinery Show in February.

MX5000 multitasking tractor

Positioned between Kubota's small L-series compact tractors and the larger M-series, the MX5000 is powered by a low-vibration, 50-hp, 4-cyl., E-TVCS indirect injection diesel engine. A partially synchronized transmission has eight forward and four reverse speeds. A unique bevel-gear front drive system allows equal pulling power at all steering angles and gives a tight turning radius.

The tractor can be fitted with two choices of performance-matched loaders with single-lever joystick control. The LA852 has a lift capacity of more than 2,400 lbs. at the pivot pins and 1,875 lbs. in the bucket. The dump height clears 9 ft. An optional quick coupler allows fast changeover from bucket to pallet fork or bale spear.

For rear-mounted implements, the 540-rpm PTO allows for automatic, self-modulating engagement. A Cat. I and II 3-pt. hitch has 2,315 lbs. of lift capacity at 24 in. behind the lift point. Price range: $17,400 to $21,400.

M-series loader tractors

If you're looking to step up to the next level of compact horsepower and control, Kubota offers eight utility tractors with a hydraulic shuttle transmission. The newest models are the M8200 and M9000 ROPS and cab models. They join the M5700 and M6800 tractors that were added last year. The four-speed hydraulic shuttle transmission is fully synchronized to allow shifting from forward to reverse without clutching. In combination with the high/low range, there are eight forward and eight reverse speeds. With an optional creep kit installed, gear range increases to 12 forward and 12 reverse on the M8200 and M9000. Price range for the M-series tractors: $23,200 to $36,560.

M9000 Mudder

Those tall tires may look strange, but they work well for slow speed rolling and crop clearance. The 60- to 80-in. tires are designed for the specialty row crop farmer, with crop clearance of just more than 30 in. The tractor is powered by a high-torque, ultra-quiet, 4-cyl., turbocharged, intercooled V3300 diesel engine. A new cab model can be ordered with dual-level heat, AC, tilt steering and other comfort features.

The fully synchronized transmission and synchro shuttle has 12 forward and 12 reverse speeds, including four creep speeds. The tractor can creep as slow as 0.14 mph, or 12.3 ft./min., at rated engine rpm.

A Cat. II 3-pt. hitch has 4,630 lbs. of lift capacity at 24 in. behind the lift points. Lift capacity can be increased to 6,170 lbs. with an optional lift-assist cylinder. Independent 540-rpm PTO is standard with 540/1,000-rpm optional. Because the PTO clutch operates hydraulically, it is easy to switch between on and off regardless of whether the tractor is stationary or moving. Price range: $28,000 to $47,590.

BX22 subcompact tractor

This 22-hp, 3-cyl. machine is not really a farm tractor. Then again, how many garden tractors come with 4-wd, a 189∞ rotation front loader, mid-mount mower, 680-lb. lift capacity, 3-pt hitch and a backhoe that can dig to depths of 6 ft.? Targeted mainly to the large estate owner and landscaping business, this little brute will help you get your yard work done faster so you can spend more time with the family. It might also be handy when you put junior to work picking rocks. Price: $16,990.

For more information, contact Kubota Tractor Corp., Dept. FIN, 33401 Del Amo Blvd., Torrance, CA 90503, 888/458-2682, www.kubota.com.