Whether your business is producing tip-top sports pitches, cutting hedges down country lanes, growing trees and shrubs or supplying fruit and vegetables to the markets, few can work without a tractor. But which one? The choice is vast and increasing each year.
Targeting the grounds-care, landscape, municipal and golf sectors, the Grand L40-II Series deluxe tractors from Kubota were launched last autumn and have an integrated cab designed for increased operator comfort. The machine also features Kubota’s branded HST Plus hydrostatic transmission advanced technology.
"Our ride-on mowers and compact tractors have always been popular with maintenance specialists working in the turf-care and landscaping sectors, so the launch of the Grand L40-II Series will further enhance our position in this sector," says Kubota ground-care division business development manager Adrian Langmead.
Sports and amenity
As part of a wholesale upgrade of the McCormick tractor range, the X4 Series of seven models has been developed for sports and amenity grounds-care applications. They boast transmission/engine combinations as well as a spacious cab that should appeal to operators and owner-drivers alike. Power outputs range from 64hp to 107hp and there is a wide choice of specifications to suit different applications and budgets.
Options on the X4 units include creeper gears and ground-drive power take-off (PTO) for specialist turf-maintenance machinery, a low-revs Eco transmission option for more fuel-efficient road travel up to 40km/h and a new cab design that is spacious yet compact.
"The designers at Argo Tractors have given the McCormick X4 Series cab a lot of attention to ensure it provides a comfortable and practical workplace," says product specialist at GB distributor AgriArgo UK Paul Wade. "It’s quite a challenge making a cab to fit a small tractor that’s in proportion but gives the operator plenty of space and good visibility, but the X4 designers have achieved that."
The latest Deutz engines with simple emissions-control technology feature under the bonnet of the 64hp, 69hp and 76hp units. Mechanical control of the 3-4t to 3.9t lift capacity rear linkage can be upgraded to electronic operation on the 90hp, 99hp and 107hp models. For added productivity, 1.75t front linkage and PTO is also available on these tractors. Two- or four-wheel drive, cab or open platform and a choice of synchro shuttle and power shuttle transmissions add to the specification mix.
Last autumn Branson Tractors UK, part of the Compact Tractor Centre based in Warwickshire, was established for the design, specification and delivery of compact Branson Tractors. Branson is the international brand of the Korean company Kukje Machinery, which produces some 20,000 tractors per year. Five series of models are available.
The 00 Series of 21hp to 30hp tractors are designed for easy operation in environments such as orchards, vineyards, golf courses and parks. With a choice of 12/12 shuttle shift or hydrostatic transmission (HST), the 25 Series provides power outputs from 35hp to 55hp in a commercial-grade tractor.
Moving up the power scale, the K Series comprises units from 65hp to 74hp and is among Korea’s best sellers, while the F Series is an economically priced entry-level compact range of 35hp and 40hp tractors with 12/12 synchromesh or JST. Expected later this year is the P Series, providing units from 80hp up to 110hp.
Ideal for municipal and grounds maintenance applications as well as light agricultural use, the four-model Iseki TG6 Series was introduced last autumn to replace the TG5. The new series gives a choice of 36hp and 39hp three-cylinder, liquid-cooled diesel engines or two 48hp variants.
One of the 48hp models has two-stage, six-speed HST. The others feature three-range manual transmission, each range having eight forward/reverse gears and dual clutches for fast and smooth gear changing, plus an automatic mode that utilises the top five gears for towing, mowing or travelling on the public highway.
With a contoured nose for a clearer view to the front, the TG6 Series machines have modern combination switches and controls — the main controls being located on a console on the right-hand side of the operating platform. A "feather touch" shuttle lever controls forward/backward travel and is located on the steering column. All models feature hydrostatic steering and smooth two-mode adjustable PTO engagement.
Lifting capacity starts at 1,270kg (ball ends), rising to a hefty 1,700kg for the top-of-the-range TG6490
IQ. Optional mid-mounted, side-discharge, 1.83m-wide rotary cutting decks are available. Iseki tractors are distributed in the UK by Ransomes Jacobsen.
Targeting utility and loader applications, St Neot’s based Reco has added the 35hp CK3510 and 40hp CK4010 models to the CK10 Series from Korean manufacturer Kioti. Boasting high-displacement Kioti three-cylinder diesel engines, both models are offered with a 9/3 manual or three-range hydrostatic gearbox. A modern self-supporting one-piece bonnet allows front-end visibility and quick access for maintenance. Lift capacity at 24in is 1,030kg and PTO features 540 and 750rpm speeds. A mid-PTO is available as an option.
Comfort factors on the latest Kioti tractors include suspension seat, power-steering and conveniently located controls. HST models also feature a new dual-pedal design to make driving easier with smoother forward and reverse engagement. In addition, the 40hp hydrostatic model features a HST linked pedal system that, when engaged, synchronises the HST and engine rpm to help reduce fuel consumption and simplify tractor operation for loader applications.
Fitted with cabs and offering powers of 75hp, 85hp and 95hp, the brand new MF4700 Series Massey Ferguson tractors are purpose-designed and built for the 75hp to 100hp sector and feature the most up-to-date engine, transmission, cab and driveline technology. They should make the ideal loader tractor.
"Designed by engineers in Massey Ferguson’s Beauvais facility, the MF4700 Series are not only completely new tractors, they also introduce an entirely new concept in modern tractor development," says Massey Ferguson director of marketing services and public relations, Campbell Scott.
The tractors offers best-in-class comfort and control from a spacious, air-conditioned cab built in the new Beauvais 2 facility. The high-specification cab is equipped with the most modern features and controls in the sector.
All the new models are powered by the latest technology AGCO Power 3.3-litre, three-cylinder engines to deliver high power and torque with economy, while meeting the strict Stage IV/Tier 4 regulations with maintenance-free All-in-One Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) technology. An engine speed memory comes as standard and is activated by simply pressing a button.
Massey Ferguson developed a 12x12 mechanical gearbox specifically for the MF4700 Series. It is equipped with a synchronised reverse shuttle, with hydraulic clutch activation for easy shifting as standard. The power shuttle control lever is an option to provide finger-tip direction changes and comes with a button on the gear lever to activate the clutch.
Four-wheel drive is provided by a centre-mounted shaft under the gearbox and engine. It is engaged electro-hydraulically and disengaged automatically at speeds of more than 14km/h, and activated again as speeds drop. An open-centre hydraulic system supplies pressure and flow to operate implements on the 3,000kg-capacity three-point linkage.
It has been a busy time for Massey Ferguson of late. This spring the company launched a new genre of tractor in the 100hp to 130hp class. The four-model MF5700 Series moulds together compact dimensions with performance and power while meeting Stage IV/Tier 4 emissions regulations.
"The ‘all-in-one’ SCR technology employed on the latest AGCO Power 4.4-litre, four-cylinder engine doesn’t sacrifice power, efficiency, maintenance, ground clearance or, importantly, visibility. It is also proven to help reduce fuel consumption," says Scott.
Yet another series came from the Massey Ferguson stable in April. The MF6700 Series comprises 120hp and 130hp sturdy, straight-forward, all-purpose tractors built on a 2.5m wheelbase and offering an impressive 5.2t linkage capacity for loader and field work. Both are powered by AGCO Power 4.4-litre,
four-cylinder diesel engines with SCR and have 12/12 gearboxes with mechanical shuttle. Power shuttle is available as an option.
But what of the future? John Deere is prepared to lead European customers through the upcoming transition from Stage IV to the anticipated Stage V emissions regulations with diesel particulate filter (DPF) technology.
One of the significant impacts of Stage V will be the introduction of a particle number limit for engines in the 19kW to 560kW power band. John Deere has been using DPF technology since Stage IIIB, with more than 150 million DPF hours logged in the field.
"Our extensive experience with the development and integration of DPF technology means John Deere is already capable of complying with the requirements indicated in the EU Commission’s proposal COM (2014) 581 concerning Stage V emissions," confirms director of sales, marketing and sales support (JD Power Systems) Geoff Stigler.
But do we need diesel? At Cereals 2016 held in Cambridgeshire in June, New Holland gave UK farmers and growers a first look at the T6.180 Methane Power tractor. This represents a key step in achieving New Holland’s goal of Energy Independent Farming.
Seen as a second-generation prototype, the T6.180 is said to offer fuel cost savings of up to 20 per cent and emits 80 per cent less polluting emissions than a standard diesel tractor. It features a 175hp Nef 6 engine delivering 740Nm torque and has nine gas cylinders with a total capacity of 300 litres compressed methane — sufficient for half-a-day of normal operation.
Access to an anaerobic digestion plant and the ability to grow to biomass could bring more benefits because the tractor can be switched from methane to biomethane for next-to-no CO2 emissions. New Holland Agriculture marketing manager James Ashworth says: "Biomethane, as a renewable
source of energy, is an exciting prospect for powering tomorrow’s agricultural machinery."