8 December 2000

Modern tractor power at touch of a button…

The number of new product

launches at Smithfield

exceeded the expectations

of more than a few.

Andy Collings, Andy Moore

and Peter Hill continue their

report on the events major

machinery launches

ASK a Valtra Valmet salesman how much power the new S-Series tractor develops and he will answer: "Depends how much you want."

With sophisticated electronic engine management controlled by microchip, power output can easily be altered on the stylish new giant being prepared for sale next year.

"At present we are talking anywhere between 200hp to 260hp," says John Nichol of Valtra Tractors.

Using the machines built-in modem, power output can even be re-tuned remotely.

"That could be an interesting feature for contract hire," says Mr Nichol. "A farmer needing a 260hp tractor for autumn cultivation, say, but not needing so much power at other times of year could have the tractors engine reprogrammed and be charged different hire rates accordingly. It would save the user money and save the contract hire firm swapping tractors around."

The radio-modem link will also allow the tractors performance and condition to be monitored remotely, and for driver-programmed hydraulic control sequences to be stored on the farm office computer, then recalled for future use.

The new models cab design emphasises these high-tech features with modern push-button and joystick controls, many of them close to hand on the seat armrest. The cab is also notable for its large glass area and lack of opening windows. Automatic climate control keeps the driver comfortable while the sealed windows help cut noise levels.

"Tractors at this power level tend to be specialist arable machines," says John Nichol. "We are keen to make the S-Series as versatile as possible, so reverse drive and 7.5t front linkage/pto were designed-in from the outset to suit contractors and others operating forage harvesters and big highcapacity mowers."

Visibility through the large rear screen is said to give an unimpeded view of wide implements and a reverse-drive steering wheel is adjustable for best comfort and control.

Other high-tech features include a generous complement of seven electro-hydraulic remote valves with timer, proportional flow adjustment and "pressure-beyond" control, a facility that adds load sensing characteristics to hydraulic cylinders and motors on implements.

But the transmission remains down-to-earth; a six-speed manual gearbox with four-speed powershift, plus creep, giving 40 speeds in all forward and reverse.

"Farmers we consulted about the design pointed out that you get fewer gears with a full powershift system," says John Nichol. "Nor were they enthusiastic about stepless transmission at this power level."

Futuristic Valtra S-Series comes with an 8.4-litre electronically-governed engine tuned to deliver between 200hp and 260hp. Further development of remote modem access will allow power output to be retuned remotely.