Tractors for growers

The latest specialist tractors are providing wider choice for growers working in narrow rows, Sally Drury reports.

New Holland Agriculture: T4 FNV tractors are cleaner and quieter than predecessors - image: New Holland Agriculture
New Holland Agriculture: T4 FNV tractors are cleaner and quieter than predecessors - image: New Holland Agriculture

What do you expect from your tractor? Of course you want the ability to access narrow rows, plenty of power and comfort. With new models available from specialist tractor manufacturers, fruit growers and those working in narrow rows now have more choice.

New Holland Agriculture launched its cleaner, quieter, more efficient T4 FNV tractors to the UK at this year’s Fruit Focus growers’ event held in Kent in July. Boasting more power and performance, the four-model series offers a choice of engine sizes and three different widths, alongside a new best-in-class cab to provide improved operator protection and comfort.

The Blue Cab 4 option protects against dust, aerosols and vapours by exceeding EN 15695 Category 4 for filtration and pressurisation when required during spraying operations. The double filtration system involves two filters in the same roof and allows the operator to switch to Category 2 at the press of a button when Category 4 is not required — so helping prolong filter life and reducing maintenance costs. At 78dB(A), Blue Cab 4 is also the quietest cab to date.

With high power-to-weight ratios, T4 FNV tractors come in widths of 1.06m, 1.23m and 1.47m to suit the needs of fruit, vineyard or other narrow or row applications. Power is delivered by a 3.4-litre four-cylinder engine, purpose-developed for tractor operation by FTP Industrial. Rated power outputs are 75hp on
the T4.80 and 86hp and 99hp respectively for the T4.90 and T4.100. At the top end is the T4.110 at 107hp — the highest output ever offered by New Holland in a speciality tractor.

To improve efficiency, the engine speed management precisely fuels the engine to meet load and maintain a constant speed. It also allows the operator to programme two engine speeds, so separate speeds can be selected for work and for turning at the row end. Fuel capacity has increased by 20 litres to 99 litres, reducing fill-ups and offering longer operational runtime. Engine service intervals of 600 hours should reduce operating costs.

Highly configurable to user requirements, T4 FNV models offer a choice of transmissions, including Shuttle Command, Split Command, Powershuttle and Dual Command. Optional creep speed is available with Shuttle Command and Dual Command transmissions. The 32x16 Dual Command transmission allows a high/low push-button ratio split to be made, under full load, in each of the forward gears.

Other features include high-performance hydraulics, front and rear linkage, and power take-off options to work a wide range of implements and attachments. The rear linkage can be adjusted to match Cat I or Cat II implements.

All T4 FNV models offer high lift capacities, with the T4F offering up to 2,600kg. All the models also have a heavy-duty, folding front linkage system to deliver a lift capacity of up to 1,970kg. A premium hydraulic system can be specified for the operation of power-hungry implements. Optional hydraulic stabilisers on a dedicated hydraulic supply provide further flexibility, with the ability to offset attachments either side of the tractor for specific row work.

For greater productivity, New Holland’s renowned SuperSteer front axle offers an effective steering angle of 76° and a turn radius as low as 2.9m. The enlarged wheelbase transfers more weight to the front of the tractor, so reducing the need for front ballast when using heavy rear-mounted implements. All T4 V and N tractors can be specified with a choice of two- or four-wheel drive standard front axles, while T4 N and F tractors can benefit from the four-wheel drive SuperSteer axle option.

Growers working on slopes should note that New Holland’s advanced traction management, provided through automatic four-wheel drive, means drive is automatically engaged to the front wheels on T4 F and N models on slopes of 10° or more, or if rear wheel slip exceeds 5%.

Reversible steering

Also introduced at Fruit Focus, the Antonio Carraro Tony 9800 TR is the newest reversible steering tractor in the lineup from Kirkland. It features four electronically controlled speed ranges and a traction capacity reported to be 30% greater than that of the standard model.

New this year, the Deutz-Fahr 5DS/5DV/5DF and 5DF Ecoline range of tractors has been designed specifically with UK fruit and vine growers in mind. Products range from the more simple models, light and compact, equipped with a fully synchronised five-speed manual transmission and mechanically controlled hydraulic distributors, to the hi-tech models equipped with powershift and electro-hydraulic shuttle, high-visibility "four-pillar" cab, independent front wheel suspension, hydraulic distributors and electronic hitch.

The particularly small size of the new three- and four-cylinder engines — FARMotion Stage 3B emissions compliant — coupled with the redesigned bonnet and front axle support have allowed a further reduction in the turning circle of the new Deutz-Fahr Orchards models, ensuring easy manoeuvring even in the tightest spaces and on the narrowest headlands.

Features of this compact, minimal-maintenance FARMotion engine include electronically controlled high-pressure common rail fuel injection, external and cooled exhaust gas recirculation system and catalytic converter. The entire package is geared to deliver higher performance than ever with constant power and torque curves even at low crankshaft speeds, and low fuel consumption.

The front module of the new Deutz-Fahr Orchards has also been redesigned. The cooling system, fuel tank, front support and one-piece tiltable bonnet with its centrally mounted headlights have been reworked and improved to adapt to the FARMotion engine. When the bonnet is opened, simply by pressing a side button, it allows easy and spacious access to the engine compartment for routine maintenance operations.

Hydraulic systems have been updated too, by using two separate open-centre hydraulic circuits to ensure full flow for operating implements, three-point hitch and other tractor operations. All models come as standard with a 54-litre per minute implement pump and three rear spool valve remotes, with flow control on the number one remote. An optional 64-litre/min implement tandem pump is available to improve the flow and the simultaneous use of rear lift and spool valves.

John Deere: 5G Series tractors specifically designed for customers needing a narrow tread width for working in orchards and vineyard - image: John Deere

Comfort and power

Introduced earlier this year, the John Deere 5G Series specialist tractor lineup includes four model ranges featuring 3.4-litre Stage 3B engines with rated power outputs of 75hp to 105hp (97/68/EC). The series has been specifically designed to provide high levels of comfort, power, hydraulic performance and manoeuvrability to customers who operate in orchards and vineyards, or for other applications that require a narrow tread width.

The 5GF, 5GN and 5GV Series tractors offer customers the choice of an open operator station or a new cab interior and controls layout. Cab features include an electronic hand throttle and new reversing lever, new left- and right-hand consoles, an updated display, 10% more space and an optional deluxe air suspension seat.

In addition, the tractors have an improved turning radius of up to 15% and an increased hydraulic capacity of up to 126 litres/min, utilising three hydraulic pumps.

The 5GL Series 75hp, 90hp and 100hp four-wheel drive models feature a new ex-factory low-profile cab, a narrow width of 1.4m and a new 24F/12R PowrReverser transmission. These tractors are particularly suitable for pergola-style vineyard plantations as well as featuring the same increased hydraulic capacity as the other models in the 5G specialist range. 

Adgestone Vineyard: owners have invested in MF3600 - image: Massey Ferguson

Massey Ferguson tractor providing rugged power and manoeuvrability at vineyard on the Isle of Wight

Although there is evidence that the Romans grew vines on the chalky south-facing slopes near Sandown on the Isle of Wight some 2,000 years ago, the current Adgestone Vineyard established in 1968 under the pioneering ownership of Ken Barlow is thought to be the oldest continuously operating vineyard/winery in the UK. The present owner is Russ Broughton.

It was a chance viewing of an advert in a local newspaper that led Broughton to take over the 10-acre site in July 2013 and open the doors to the public. Today the former engineer runs a successful vineyard along with a café and shop, bed-and-breakfast business and music events throughout summer weekends. Broughton recognised that the vineyard needed to increase productivity to stay competitive.

With the help of his father and only permanent employee, they ploughed and planted more than 3,000 young vines in 2013-14. A further investment in 1,500 new vines was made this year with both Broughton’s family and that of his fiancée involved in the planting process.

Core to the success of the business is the management of the vineyard, and that is why Broughton and wife-to-be and budding farmer Caroline Fawcett invested in a new Massey Ferguson MF3600 from C&O Tractors — the distributor responsible for the sales and support of the full line of Massey Ferguson farm machinery across central-southern England.

Part of the 3600 series, noted for agility, power and versatility, the tractor is straightforward yet impressive, consisting of rugged power and quick, agile manoeuvrability, designed to tackle the widest range of agricultural, specialist and vineyard tasks. Tailor-made for traditional vineyards, the design is perfect for narrow and low access areas where space is at a premium and ideally suited to working on slopes.

All versions of the tractor feature a spacious, comfortable cab with good visibility. At the heart of each model is a powerful engine delivering torque and economy. Of course, you can also expect to see the world-renowned Ferguson three-point linkage with this range, boasting a 3,000kg lift capacity.

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