Are the days of the simple, low-tech tractor numbered? Drive one of New Holland’s latest range and you might well begin to think so, for technologically this is as distant from the New Hollands of 10 or 15 years ago as the latest Mondeo is from a Cortina.
So what have we got here? It’s the third biggest of the four new T7000 series models, with a six-cylinder, 6.7-litre common-rail diesel that meets the latest tough Tier III emissions standards. It weighs in at a shade under 7t, which means it can be put on top-work duties without fear of chronic compaction. It’s striking looking, too, with swooping bonnet and grandiose, seagull-scaring stacked headlights.
As with almost all big current-generation tractors, there’s extra power available – 37hp in this case – for pto or transport work. The model we borrowed had the top-spec gearbox, too, a 19 x 6 powershift with 50kph top speed and air brakes.
With cultivatable land in short supply at this time of the year, we found a field of over-wintered cauliflowers at Jack Buck Farms, north of Spalding, Lincolnshire, that needed turning in. The tool of choice was a 4m set of Simba Solo discs that we figured was man enough to knock down and bury the vast amount of pretty smelly vegetation.
Putting the tractor to work
Time to get stuck in. First thing you notice is a big, wide cab with plenty of breathing space and a passenger seat suitable for more than just dwarfs. There’s a bank of switchgear and levers on the right-hand side worthy of Thunderbird 5, including transmission joystick, four-way hydraulic joystick, a teeny hand throttle and myriad buttons.
The decently sized tray to the left of the seat should prove good for dumping phones and lunch containers, plus there are a couple of drinks holders in the back of the passenger seat, but otherwise stowage space is a bit modest. A long grab rail in front of the hydraulic levers, by contrast, is great for gripping on in bumpy conditions.
At eye level on the right-hand side is a big screen. Giant sat nav? Handy TV for catching the latest on Big Brother? No, it’s New Holland’s all-singing, all-dancing IntelliView monitoring system – more on this in a minute.
The clutch is light and although there is a long travel before it bites, there is plenty of scope to feather it when you’re backing on to implements. It’s quiet, too, though New Holland’s pursuit of low cab noise (the 7050 scores an impressive 69dBA on the din-o-meter) means that you notice an annoying whistle from the ventilation fan.
This tractor also had front suspension, cab suspension and optional £670 actively damped seat, which between them should promise a magic carpet ride. For most of the time they keep things as smooth and unruffled as a Buckingham Palace tea party, though crossing deep water-filled tramlines still makes the tractor buck and lurch.
With just short of 200hp under its belt, the 7050 easily masters the Simba discs, too, though this fen silt wasn’t by any means the toughest of soils. And though noise levels at low rpm seemed little different from any other tractor, noise suppression seemed to get better as you wind up the revs.
|New Holland T7050|
|Rated power||6.7-litre six-cyl Cummins Iveco|
|Engine||197hp (+ extra 37hp in pto and transport mode)|
|Transmission||16F x 9R powershift 50kph|
|Hydraulics||54 litres/min @ 190 bar|
|Fuel tank||410 litres|
While the basics seem pretty good, the essence and character of this tractor are really more about its high-tech fittings. Some are items found elsewhere, like the auto field and road function that lets the tractor do the gear changing for you (though on this system you can alter the % rev drop at which changes takes place in 5% steps).
Likewise, there’s a pretty state-of-the-art headland management system that allows you to record every component of a headland turn and repeat the whole sequence with the press of a button.
Clever, but it’s a level of automation that is intimidating for many drivers, so I warmed to New Holland’s new step-by-step function, which lets you decide when each part of the sequence takes place.
The big screen
Which brings us to that screen. Though nicely backlit and with lots of dinky icons, it looked a little daunting at first. But you can see why it’s needed. With tractors getting more and more sophisticated, drivers are having to become amateur computer programmers, hence lots of staring at handbooks and scratching of heads.
I thought the screen (an £800 option) was great. It covers everything from spool valve flows to fuel consumption, hitch height and wheelslip. You can set up a bespoke screen for each driver or each implement or get it to show what headland management system steps you’ve programmed in.
It’s all very graphic, like a mobile phone, with four arrows, an enter button and an up-one-level key to operate it. And you can experiment without worrying that you’ll make the whole system implode.
If there is a downside it’s cost. Plus I spent so much time studying the smallish figures and graphics and playing with the buttons that a mild attack of motion sickness threatened to rear its unwelcome head. That apart, it’s great fun.
Big, light cab, good noise suppression plus sophisticated suspension and seat make this a good place to be. Sheer volume of sophisticated functions and features will delight handbook-studiers, but might worry those wanting a simple, point-and-go tractor.