Compact and mid-size tractors

Compact and mid-size tractors these days have much of the power and capability of their larger cousins. Here's a look at some of the best around.

Tractor makers are giving users what they want — more power, less size and increased comfort. There is now a bigger choice of compact and mid-size tractors with full-size features and operator comfort in mind. There is also a much wider selection in the 70hp to 100hp range, suitable for grounds-care work.
Massey Ferguson has introduced the MF1500 Series — three compact, lightweight models from 32hp to 46hp for professional grounds-care and light construction users. “We understand the vital role compact tractors play in the efficient running of a wide range of modern businesses,” says Massey Ferguson product marketing manager Philip Evans.
“Operators want power, comfort and control with high durability and low running costs. With low margins, skill shortages and ever-tighter deadlines, operators need reliable, versatile tractors that can accomplish a wide variety of tasks efficiently.
“The MF 1500 Series has standard features that are often available only as options on other compacts, while further options provide full-sized tractor functions in confined spaces.”
At 46hp, the MF1547 is for jobs needing a lot of power, such as deep-tine aerating. The four-cylinder engine boasts high torque. The two smaller models are fitted with 32hp and 38hp engines with a new cast rib design to lift power. Graphite-coated pistons, used in all the engines, are intended to reduce friction and noise while helping to cut fuel consumption.
A new 12 forward, 12 reverse mechanical gearbox provides four fully synchronised gears in three ranges with synchro shuttle, to give speeds from as as low as 0.37km/h up to 30km/h for road travel. Loading work and other tasks needing repetitive direction changes are aided by the shuttle. This increases cycle times while reducing operator fatigue. A three-range hydrostatic model is also available.
PTO options on the MF1500 Series are what you would expect on bigger tractors, including “Soft Start”. This cushions the load when starting large, powerful, PTO-driven implements and gives operators the choice of either “feathering” engagement for a gradual take-up of power or leaving the system in normal start for faster engagement of lighter machines. Both 540rpm and 1,000rpm speeds are provided as standard and are selected with a lever by the seat. There is also an option of a mid-mounted PTO shaft for mower decks (standard on the hydrostatics).
Efforts to cushion operators from noise and vibration include a smoother, quieter engine, a moulded rubber floor mat and special set-screws to tighten down the foldable ROPS frame. Buyers of the hydrostatics can specify a fully enclosed cab with heater/blower. Air conditioning is standard on the MF1547.
More power, increased torque and lower fuel consumption are features of John Deere’s new small-chassis compact tractors. Based on the same modern styling and overall design as the mid-size and large chassis models in the 20 Series, the new compacts include the 24hp 2320 and 26hp 2520. They are powered by Tier 2 engines, which can generate up to 10 per cent more power than the models they replace, but with lower emissions. Both feature a new two-range hydrostatic transmission with a higher maximum forward speed of 22km/h on the 2520 version.
Front and rear axle loads have been increased and maximum lift capacity at the Category 1 three-point hitch is now 650kg. The operator’s station has new features, including a new-style hand throttle instrument panel and seat.
Advanced technology is a feature of the new Iseki TG range of compacts from Ransomes Jacobsen. The TGs have an “intelligent” transmission system, a quieter, smoother-starting engine, a rounder profile and a new design of standard ROPS protection. Operator comfort has been improved with a floating floor to reduce noise and vibration. All control levers are located at the operator’s side and there’s hydrostatic power steering and two-mode adjustable PTO engagement.
The TG5390 has a 39hp, three-cylinder clean-burn engine and lifts 1,270kg. Maximum speed is 30km/h and it has a 40-litre tank.
Head greenkeeper Gary Burns recently bought this model for Lenzie Golf Club, Dunbartonshire. He says: “We had an Iseki TK538, but the new TG range is another step forward. We’ll be working it quite hard with our aerator and using it for towing and mowing duties.”
The larger TG5470 has a 54hp four-cylinder, clean-burn engine and a maximum speed of 30km/h. With a 50-litre fuel tank and 1,580kg lifting capacity (reducing to 1,150kg at a distance of 61cm from ball ends) the TG5470 is suited to heavy work over long hours in turf and landscaping applications.
Mindful that turf managers have to minimise the risk of ground compaction, New Holland has introduced new 31hp and 35hp compacts (TC31D-A and TC35D-A) using the same chassis as on the existing 27hp TC27D-A model. This means these units offer more power without any significant weight increase. New tyre options mean users can achieve the optimum tractor footprint.
The TC31D-A has nine forward and three reverse speeds and sliding mesh transmission, with three-range hydrostatic transmission available as an option. Hydrostatic transmission is fitted as standard on the TC35D-A.
Both models have four-wheel drive and can be fitted with New Holland’s SuperSteer front axle for a 75? turn.
These tractors are available with Q-cabs, incorporating a two-speed air pressurisation unit with a heater, an opening windscreen, a deluxe seat and work lights at the front and rear.
Goldoni is also working on the “small is beautiful” theme with the new Aster Series of compact and all-purpose tractors. Marketed in the UK by BSG Supplies of Colchester, these Italian-made machines are fitted with 33hp, 36hp or 44hp Lombardini engines and feature 12+12 gears with Fast Reverse function for headland manoeuvres. Suitable for grounds-care and landscape work, they are compact for small spaces.
Spring 2006 saw Kubota launch a “standard specification” compact tractor, available in manual gearbox form only. The L3200 32hp tractor fills the gap in Kubota’s manual gearbox line-up — it already has several hydrostatic transmission models in this horsepower range — and is set to appeal to cost-conscious customers who want a no-frills compact tractor that can give reliable, durable and economical performance in all seasons and all applications in both confined and open spaces.
Equipped with eight forward and eight reverse gears split into high and low ranges, the L3200 is powered by a three-cylinder, water-cooled Kubota diesel engine incorporating Kubota’s three-vortex combustion system technology. The design is intended to produce enhanced fuel/air mixing for exceptional combustion efficiency, resulting in a cleaner, quieter, smoother-running engine with improved power delivery, torque and fuel consumption.
Pushing the power boundaries of compacts is the new John Deere 4720. With a 62hp Tier 2 low-emission diesel engine and eHydro hydrostatic transmission, the four-wheel drive 4720 is based on the existing 52hp 4520 model, but generates an extra 10hp from the same John Deere PowerTech four-cylinder, 2.4-litre turbo-charged engine.
The 4720 is not just packed with power. It’s also packed with technology. LoadMatch and MotionMatch systems come as standard on the three-range, twin-pedal eHydro transmission. LoadMatch is an electronic power management system, similar to that found on larger agricultural and construction equipment. It maximises the available torque by automatically adjusting transmission speed under load. It’s there to make sure the necessary power is always available and has the extra benefit of making it impossible to stall the engine. MotionMatch is designed to make it easier to switch between tasks such as loading, mowing and aerating, where different working speeds and transmission response times are required. The operator simply switches between pre-set speeds by pressing a button.

Quiet cab
Making the 4720 particularly suitable for use by contractors, councils and local authorities needing to haul, load and lift, the tractor comes as standard with the new, ultra-quiet 80dB(A) ComfortGard fully integrated cab — all for £22,677 ex VAT. The cab offers a host of big tractor features to maximise operator productivity and minimise fatigue.
“Low noise and high levels of comfort are the major benefits of this fully integrated cab,” says John Deere representative David Hart.
“A unique offset cab mounting system results in noise levels as low as 80dB(A) at the driver’s ear, giving the quietest ride on the market for this class of tractor. The high-capacity heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system is standard equipment on all models, and incorporates six adjustable air distribution vents for maximum comfort and convenience.”
Other features of the new cab include a large window area for all-round visibility and integrated warning and tail-lights. The right-hand control panel groups the most frequently used tractor controls at the operator’s fingertips, while four-wheel drive is engaged and disengaged from the dashboard. There is a 12V power supply, mobile phone and dual cup holders, plus storage for compact discs. An air-ride suspension seat is optional.
Concentrating on power, Kioti has expanded the top end of its range with the introduction of 54hp, 75hp and 90hp tractors. The South Korean tractor manufacturer also upgraded the existing 45hp and 49hp tractors, so all five new machines now come with selectable two/four-wheel drive, mechanical transmission through 12-speed gearboxes with synchromesh forward/reverse shuttle and differential locks.
All the new models have a new type of high-specification flat-deck safety cab with an adjustable steering console, air conditioning, integral sound system and even a cool-box. Bonnets have a one-touch opening mechanism and are designed to give drivers a
good forward view.
Kioti UK importer Rustons Engineering offers high-quality Mauser cabs for the three smallest tractors — the CK20, CK25 and CK30 — as an alternative to the standard ROPS. The cabs are described as exceeding European sound-insulation and ROPS standards and include heating and ventilation, windscreen washers/wipers and front and rear spotlights. Glass doors and foot-well windows aid all-round visibility.
Continuing to expand the top end of its grounds-care offering, New Holland has added powerful four-cylinder models to its TND-A and TNS-A line-ups of utility tractors. With the introduction of the 82hp TN85DA and TN85SA, and the 90hp TN95DA, the series incorporates four models from 59hp to 90hp. The 4.5-litre, Tier 2 engine gives more power, high torque and benefits from 600-hour service intervals.
A wide range of transmission options are available, including creeper transmissions. The TN85S-A features SuperSteer front axle and automatic four-wheel drive management for a 76? turning circle and a radius of just 3.2m. The automatic traction management system disengages power to the front axle during tight turns and low draft applications, and then re-engages as conditions dictate, reducing fuel consumption, tyre wear and turf damage, as well as increasing work rates by up to a reported 20 per cent. A manual override allows full-time two-wheel or four-wheel drive to be engaged by the operator.
The tractors can be specified with New Holland’s “Blue Cab” for user comfort. This has a pressurised cab sealing system so only air that has passed through the anti-pollen and air circulation filters enters the cabin. The Blue Cab also provides air conditioning and can be specified with carbon filters for those spraying chemicals.

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