Deutz Fahr’s new Agrotron K100 tractor first drive

Deutz Fahr’s new K-series Agrotrons span a power bracket from 84hp to 120hp and as such are mainly destined for stock duties and light arable work.

To find out what the new tractors can offer, we drive the mid-range, standard specification 95hp K100.

Deutz is keen to point out that these latest mid-size machines are completely new models. Most significantly, they’ve gained a new cab, transmission and engine.

The company has striven to give the K-series the most recent Deutz family look.

The designers have achieved this with a radical nose-job and of course the firm’s curved cab outline that made the original Agrotrons so distinctive.

Hopping up into the cab, it is instantly recognisable as pure Deutz – the firm has done nothing to tone down its trademark kindergarten colour-scheme. Each tractor function is usefully colour-coded according to its task.

Layout is logical with linkage, pto, spool-valve and transmission controls grouped on the right console.

The German engineers have made some attempt at storage with two pathetic stowage lockers – barely big enough for a can of Coke – and a bottle chiller perched over the left-hand wheel-arch. Outside is no better – an equally miniscule plastic toolbox hangs beside the steps with room only for two linkage balls and a pack of Doritos.

On the plus side, the cabin is extremely well ventilated. With air-conditioning as standard, the blower unit blasts air through 17 vents right down around foot-level, out onto every pane of glass and just at the right height to chill a sweaty brow.

A field recently plastered with muck awaits the diminutive Deutz and its four-furrow Lemken partner.

Getting the tractor moving is straightforward enough.

It’s just a case of selecting one of the four manual gears and knocking the column-mounted shuttle lever forward.

Annoyingly, the electronically controlled linkage has to be activated by depressing and holding an orange button on the console.

The plough drops into work at the flick of a rocker-switch.

Depth, drop rate, draft sensitivity, lift height and wheel-slip control are adjusted by a bank of clearly labelled green dials.

Setting off up the furrow, the operator can choose to use a preset engine “working” speed or headland turnaround speed.

Once running, engine load can be adjusted by shifting up or down through one of three powershift steps.

Considering that we’re ploughing down to a depth of about 8-10in and with each pass we’re turning over more than 1.5m (5ft) of soil, the four-cylinder Deutz power plant handles the job incredibly well.

Trundling along at a steady 8kph (5mph), the engine burbles away at 1600rpm in the working range’s top gear – 12th.

Knocking revs back to really test the engine’s lugging ability, it hangs in there chugging along until it reaches 750rpm when it finally gives up the fight and stalls.

However, tougher patches highlight the tractor’s major weakness – because the wheelbase is so short, the K100 is very light on the nose.

Challenging ground makes the front wheels scrabble , even with an extra 730kg strapped to the weight-frame.

The problem becomes even more apparent and as we head off up the road.

It begins to feel like you’re more of a jockey controlling a rearing stallion than an easy rider at the helm of a smooth-handling chariot.

Getting out of fieldwork range into transport speed is an overcomplicated and tricky process.

Apparently in the name of sophistication, Deutz’s engineers have decided to do away with a traditional stick-shift range changes and have rigged up a complex electro-hydraulic system.

With the main gear lever and shuttle in neutral and the tractor stationary, the operator depresses and holds a button on the orange-capped stick.

After a few seconds, a “C” for Consent flashes up on the cab pillar display.

This means it’s time to depress the clutch pedal, which initiates the change.

The same digital display then indicates the chosen range with an “F”or an “R” (Field or Road speed).

Sounds laborious?

It is.

It raises the question of whether such gimmicks are really necessary.

Are operators that concerned about making infrequent manual range changes?

What’s wrong with a simple mechanical set-up?

Frustration over, we head off up the road.

Accelerating away, one particular transmission feature really shines.

As the limit of the third and final powershift speed is reached and a manual gear change is needed, the clutch pedal can be ignored.

Instead, the driver squeezes a button on the front of the lever which declutches the drivetrain, allowing the shift to be made.

The gearbox then re-engages in its new ratio and the tractor continues smoothly on.

This is a luxury feature but one that really makes the drive an easy one.

However, it lacks one vital component – powershift steps are not automatically matched to forward speed after a gear change.

This can result spine-jarring jolt unless you’re particularly quick with your thumb on the powershift buttons.

Auto speed-matching is only a feature on top-spec Profiline models.

However, an economy transport function – which reduces engine revs to 1950rpm when the tractor reaches its top speed of 40kph – is standard.

This reduces noise levels and has the potential for fuel savings.

Overall, the compact K-series Agrotron is a lively little performer.

With air-seat, air-conditioning and a CD player as standard, in addition to sophisticated transmission and hydraulic controls, it is a highly specced tractor for its class and will find favour with operators.

The question is – does this make it too expensive for the all-important livestock users that make up the bulk of sales in this 80hp to 120hp category?

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