Last month’s Farm Handling Experience was a first-of-its-kind, two-day event that gave visiting farmers and contractors the chance to try out different telehandlers, loading shovels and skidsteers all in one place. Farmers Weekly was there to pick out the highlights

See also: Video: Valtra T234 tractor on test with a Sumo Trio cultivator

TELEHANDLERS

JCB-541.70

JCB-541.70 © Jonathan Page

JCB 541-70

One of the fastest-growing models in JCB’s telehandler line-up is the 541-70. With its 4.1t lift capacity and 7m reach it appeals to arable farmers, large mixed farmers and a few of the bigger livestock boys, too.

The latest version has a cleaner-burning version of JCB’s own four-cylinder engine, which produces 125hp as standard and 145hp if you stump up a bit of extra cash.

It has a couple of other clever new features, too. There’s an automatic boom suspension system that kicks in and out according to the quality of the ride as well as regenerative hydraulics that allow the boom to be lowered faster without revving the engine.

The 541-70 also comes with a six-speed powershift transmission that will take it up to 40kph as well as a 140-litre/minute hydraulic pump.

There is also a 10t trailer hitch in the package that comes with a trailer braking kit.

Price: £80,586

Merlo-TF50.8-156

Merlo-TF50.8-156 © Jonathan Page

Merlo TF50.8

The TF50.8 is the latest model from Italian maker Merlo and was being driven by farmers for the first time at the Farm Handling Experience.

With its 5t lift capacity and 8m reach it is aimed at larger farms and contracting operations, but is still a fairly compact machine. It has its centre of gravity close to the ground thanks to a low-mounted boom and it also has a new automatic boom suspension system.

But one of the biggest changes from older Merlo machines is that it is now available with an optional CV-Tronic variable transmission, as well as the traditional hydrostatic option.

The CV-Tronic uses a combination of mechanical and hydraulic drive (like a tractor CVT transmission) and has two ranges that can be changed manually or automatically.

Merlo says the main benefit is that it has considerably better pushing power than the hydrostatic, making it ideal for high-resistance jobs such as shifting large quantities of muck.

The cab is also new, with a wider frame and updated dashboard.

For towing duties the 50.8 is fitted with a heavy-duty hitch and trailer brake connection.

Price: £88,000

Dieci-Agri-Plus-40.7

Dieci-Agri-Plus-40.7 © Jonathan Page

Dieci Evo 2 40.7

Dieci’s ever-expanding telehandler line-up now includes another new face in the shape of its 40.7 Evo 2.

The Italians claim it delivers headline-making pushing power, which should appeal to anyone that likes to work their machines hard on muck, silage or grain.

The generous power outputs are provided by a Fiat-sourced, 4.5-litre engine, which uses a combination of EGR and AdBlue after-treatment to deal with the exhaust nasties before they head out of the stack.

Unusually, the main engine radiator is positioned behind the boom pivot, which Dieci reckons has improved the flow of clean air. The other cooling packs, including the one for the transmission, are still positioned in front of the engine.

There are two gearbox options – a six-speed powershift or a new CVT set-up. The latter uses four different driving modes depending on the type of work you are busy with.

The first is full power, which works normally from 0-40kph. The eco mode works in a similar fashion but manages to trim engine revs. The third limits top speed to 18kph for more controlled pushing power, while the fourth is a constant speed setting that allows the driver to select travel speed and engine rpm.

There have also been some welcome changes in the cockpit. Most notably, the old joystick trigger has been replaced by a heat sensor to activate the hydraulics without having to squeeze the stick.

Price: Starts at £69,146

New-Holland-LM7.42

New-Holland-LM7.42 © Jonathan Page

New Holland LM7.42

New Holland might not be the first name on the list if you are thinking of chopping in your telehandler for a new one, but the company says there has been growing interest in the machines it launched last year.

The smaller ones are still Diecis in blue-liveried disguise, but the recently-revealed higher horsepower range is designed by Case New Holland and churned out at the company’s construction kit factory in Lecce, Italy. That means you can get the same machine in red if you prefer Case colours.

The line-up includes five models. Three of those have a 121hp lump to call on, while the bigger ones squeeze 143hp from the 4.5-litre, Fiat-made engine. Whichever one you pick, you will need a stash of AdBlue because New Holland (and Dieci, incidentally) is one of the first manufacturers to introduce SCR on its telehandlers.

In the transmission department there is a six-speeder provided by gearbox specialist ZF. It is capable of shifting automatically between cogs four and six, and New Holland also claims it has the quietest cab on the market.

Price: £87,707

MF-9407S-Xtra

MF-9407S-Xtra © Jonathan Page

Massey Ferguson 9407s

Massey Ferguson has been selling Bobcat-built telehandlers for more than 20 years, but they are yet to make their mark on the UK market.

But with up to 3,000 new machines sold each year, it is a sector worth fighting for, and the company has been steadily adding to its telehandler line-up with that in mind.

The range now extends to four-models and tops out with the most popular size – the 9407. While the smallest model uses a Kubota motor to provide 75hp, the three bigger ones all call on Deutz to provide the grunt.

For the 9407 it is a 3.6-litre unit that pushes 122hp through the hydrostatic transmission. There are a further two mechanical gears, which should give operators a bit more control.

At the business end, the arm has 3.5t of lifting muscle and will reach up to 7m northwards. The top dog in the range also gets a beefy 190-litres/min hydraulic pump, rather than the 100-litres/min standard across the rest of the range.

Price: £78,712


SKIDS AND PIVOTS

Dieci-Agri-Pivot-T70

Dieci-Agri-Pivot-T70 © Jonathan Page

Dieci T70

Since the demise of Matbro’s popular pivot-steer, the JCB TM range has dominated the UK market for bend-in-the-middle machines.

But there are still plenty of companies offering pretty reasonable alternatives, and Dieci is one of those with an eye on a bigger slice of the market.

Built in the firm’s factory in Parma, Italy, the T70 is the latest addition to the growing pivot range. It joins the T40, T50 and T60, and there are already plans to add bigger ones, too.

At well over 7t, the T70 is a fair old lump for its horsepower rating, so it might be a good choice for occasional clamp work.

The central boom will stretch upwards to 5.25m with a maximum of 2.5t in the bucket. Elsewhere, the hydraulic pump will push out 114-litres/min at up to 230bar.

Power comes from a 115hp Kubota engine that drives through a four-speed hydrostatic supplied by Rexroth. An engine of that size is ideal, says Dieci, as it offers ample power for potential buyers without burning too much diesel.

Price: £78,647.

Avant-760i

Avant-760i © Jonathan Page

Avant 760i

At first glance Avant’s 760i doesn’t look like a farmers’ machine, but it has a surprising amount of grunt for its diminutive stature.

Its 1.5t lift capacity and 3m telescopic boom puts it on a par with a lot of skid-steers and according to the maker it uses less fuel and its tyres last longer.

The compact pivot-steer loader is fitted with a 57hp Kohler engine that drives a two-speed hydrostatic transmission. This is capable of getting it up to a heady 30kph. It’s also available with a road legal kit.

Unlike most pivot-steer loaders, Avant has decided to attach the driver to the front section of the machine. This means it is always facing the same direction as the attachment and gets a better view.

Talking of attachments, buyers also get 160 different options to choose from.

The 760i comes as standard with a canopy, but there is the option of adding a cab and even fitting air conditioning. The vehicle is pretty low at just over 2m tall with a cab fitted, which means it can happily dodge in and out of low buildings.

Price: £34,900 with canopy

New-Holland-L230-B

New-Holland-L230-B © Jonathan Page

New Holland L230

Skidsteers don’t get too much bigger than New Holland’s Fiat-powered L230, which it was demoing at the event.

The 3.4-litre powerplant develops 90hp and more than 380Nm torque, so it should have the muscle for most mucking-out jobs. Lift capacity is just shy of 1.5t, so it shouldn’t be short of tear-out force, either, and the whole unit weighs in at a solid 3.7t.

The company’s Wichita-built flagship machine also has a hydraulic pump capable of pushing out 92 litres/min. If you opt for the high-flow set-up, that total shoots  up to 143 litres/min.

Unlike the single-arm JCB, New Holland’s twin-arm set-up means you climb in through the front. The skidsteer also has CNH’s superboom system, which removes the arc shape during the lift to help get closer to trailers when filling.

Price: £54,265.

JCB-190-B

JCB-190-B © Jonathan Page

JCB 190T

Unlike most skid-steer loaders on the market, JCB’s 190T opts for a single-boom design. That means you can slide into the driver’s seat from the side, rather than having to clamber in from the front.

To maximise lift height, the single-arm boom pivots from the back of the machine. That means it can lift 862kg to a height of 3m.

In the power department there’s a four-cylinder Kohler engine that manages to muster 62hp from its 2.4-litre block. This is connected to a two-speed transmission that drives motors in each wheel.

In the cabin there are joysticks on each of the armrests that control the direction of travel and the boom. Drivers can also use a foot throttle for tasks where they don’t need lots of revs.

Price: £32,929


LOADER TRACTORS

Zetor-Proxima-120

Zetor-Proxima-120 © Jonathan Page

Zetor Proxima 120

Zetor’s Proxima loader tractors were attracting plenty of attention from budget-conscious buyers at the Farm Handling Experience.

The Proxima Power 120 with an Alo-built ZX3.1P is one of the Czech maker’s more popular models in the UK as it is handy for loader work, but has enough grunt for cultivation duties, too.

Sitting at the top of the Proxima range, the Power models get a mechanical 24-speed gearbox with three automatic powershifts as well as a hydraulic forward/reverse shuttle. Top speed is 40kph.

Under the bright-red tinwork sits Zetor’s own four-cylinder diesel engine, which pumps out 117hp and 461Nm torque.

In the cab, there is enough space for a decent-sized, padded passenger seat.

Buyers on lower budgets have the option of a standard Proxima or Proxima Plus model, both of which have more basic transmissions.

Price: £39,500 including loader

New-Holland-T5.105-B

New-Holland-T5.105-B © Jonathan Page

New Holland T5.105

New Holland’s balance of price and spec tends to see it do pretty well on the loader tractor market.

One of its most popular tractors is the Italian-built T5.105, which was working at Stoneleigh last month.

At 107hp, it falls the strong side of the 100hp mark, and is sandwiched in the T5 range by 99hp and 114hp models. Power comes from a 3.4-litre, four-pot Fiat provided by another arm of the CNH group.

There are various transmission options available that range from the most basic all-mechanical 12-speeder to the more expensive Electrocommand 16-speed semi-powershift set-up.

Plenty of these tractors will head off dealers’ forecourts with Stoll-built loaders, which can be controlled through either a mechanical or electric joystick.

Price: £56,066, plus £5,300 for the loader.

Massey-Ferguson-5613

Massey-Ferguson-5613

Massey Ferguson 5613

Massey Ferguson’s Beauvais-built 5600 series has proved a popular range for those looking for a little more sophistication from their loader tractor.

The six models start at 85hp and climb all the way to 130hp. Half of them take motive power from 3.3-litre three-pot engines and drive through Massey’s most basic Dyna-4 transmission.

The longer wheelbase versions find space for more traditional four-cylinder Sisu units and can be ordered with the pricier Dyna-6 gearbox.

That gets you 24 speeds in either direction, rather than the 16-speed Dyna-4, and the tractors also get the triple-triangle’s brake-to-neutral system to do away with the clutch at low speeds.

At the back two pto speeds are standard – 540 and eco – and the hydraulic pump will push out 58 litres/min. It is also possible to combine that with the steering pump to total 100 litres/min for loader work.

Elsewhere, two spools come as part of the standard package and max lift is 4,300kg on the tiddlers or 5,200kg on the four-potters.

Price: £81,906, plus £5,950 Quicke loader

Valtra-T174

Valtra-T174 © Jonathan Page

Valtra T174

Big loader tractors are an acquired taste in the UK, but Valtra reckons its new T-series could be the answer for large baling contractors looking for more towing power than a telehandler could ever offer.

The new six-model T-series was launched late last year and was billed as the Finnish firm’s biggest tractor overhaul in the past 20 years.

Since then the order books have been filling up, says Valtra, and the company hopes it will offer genuine competition to Agco stablemate Massey Ferguson, as well as John Deere and the like.

The model working the muck heaps at the event was the T174. It comes with 175hp from a 7.4-litre Sisu block, while a little Brucie Bonus for pto and transport takes that figure up to 190hp.

The tractor also has a butterfly-friendly eco mode, which lops a healthy 400rpm from the engines revs at 50kph.

In the downstairs department there is a Versu transmission providing 20 speeds in either direction, plus a bunch more if you spec the creeper.

Other spec details to note include the strong-sounding 9.5t rear lift and, if you are doing lots of loader work, the higher-output 160-litres/min hydraulic pump. The loader is supplied by fellow Nordic firm Alo.


LOADING SHOVELS

JCB-435s

JCB-435s © Jonathan Page

JCB 435S

The 435S is the king of JCB’s ag-spec loading shovels and is designed to spend its days thundering up and down massive silage clamps.

To make sure it is up to the job, JCB has fitted it with a sizable 6.7-litre Cummins six-pot that delivers 230hp and 945Nm of torque to a six-speed powershift transmission.

To help keep fuel costs down, there is an automatic idle function that returns the engine to 700rpm after 30 seconds of inactivity as well as an eco mode that limits engine speed to 1,800rpm.

The ZF transmission is fully automatic, meaning the driver doesn’t need to think about gearshifts and it has torque converter lock-up in all six gears. JCB says this improves efficiency and gives more climbing power when working on the clamp. Buyers can also opt for different differentials to suit the jobs they will be doing.

To help get between locations quickly it has a top speed of 48kph.

At the business end there is the option of two different loaders. The High Torque is the most popular option as it gives the driver a good view of the headstock and its parallel lift makes it more suitable to using with different attachments.

It also delivers constant torque throughout the full carriage rotation, meaning you get more power and control. Maximum breakout force with the High Torque arms is 138kN.

The high-lift option is the one to go for if you need to load high hoppers, trailers or spreaders.

Price: £147,127

NH-w170c-A

NH-w170c-A © Jonathan Page

New Holland W170C

New Holland’s huge loading shovel was originally built for the construction market, but the Basildon-based company has now pointed it in the direction of big agricultural contractors.

There is a growing market for these machines in the UK, which is why brands such as Hyundai and Caterpillar have also decided to launch their heavy-duty load-shifters into the ag market.

New Holland’s offering comes with a not-to-be-sniffed-at 195hp from the Fiat-sourced 6.7-litre block. On paper the six-pot pushes out 950Nm torque.

That power is directed through a five-speed powershift gearbox. Like any loading shovel worth its salt, New Holland’s has a torque convertor lock-up to improve the efficiency of the drive. Heavy-duty front- and rear-axles are provided by ZF.


Valtra NX

Valtra NX

Bend-in-the-middle Valtra

Valtra’s wacky-looking bend-in-the-middle NX tractor made its first UK appearance at the Farm Handling Experience.

Based on a standard N163 tractor, the NX has a pivot point inserted between the cab and the engine so it can turn using a combination of conventional and articulated steering.

This gives it a particularly tight turning circle and because the bonnet can be shunted across, it can also be driven so the front wheels track to the side of the rears.

Drivers can switch the pivot on or off in the cab and there is also a dial to adjust the amount of bonnet movement you want. For safety reasons the tractor is limited to 25kph when the pivot is activated and there are optional hydraulic stabilisers for the front axle, too.

For an even more intriguing driving experience the NX can be fitted with Valtra’s Twin Trac system and driven in reverse.

The NX isn’t Valtra’s first attempt at a bend-in-the-middle tractor, though. The idea came from a model called the XM, which Valtra stopped making several years ago. This also had a central pivot point, but unlike the NX it couldn’t use a combination of conventional and articulated steering.

Valtra says the main selling point of the NX is its manoeuvrability for tasks such as loader work and buck raking as well as reducing compaction with its offset steering mode.

Price: £86,546 including V66 loader


Bridgestone VT tyre

Tyre specialist Bridgestone was offering visitors the chance to try out its latest range of premium tyres around the tarmac tracks of the Stoneleigh showground.

The VT tractor tyres are designed to work in the field and on the road without having to adjust the pressure. That is thanks to a more resistant casing than the average radial tyre.

Bridgestone suggests pumping up the tyre to roughly 0.8bar, which is a fair bit less than the 1bar you might usually run flexible sidewall shoes at. This can increase lug area by as much as 25% to reduce the risk of excessive soil compaction.

More lugs pressing against terra firma has obvious traction benefits too, and could potentially increase work rates and trim fuel consumption.

The designers have also fiddled with the lug layout. The longer grips are designed to reduce slip and scuffing during field work and provide a smoother ride on the road. The flexible sidewall should also soak up more shocks from bumps at high speed.