Lean, green pulling machine

It would be fair to say that there’s been a fair amount of anticipation heaped on the arrival of the Deere’s new 8030-series tractors.

But can it deliver? We aim to find out.

On first impressions the 8530 looks remarkably similar to the 8520 it replaces.

The cab is the same as that used on the outgoing range, the only visible differences are new air vents around the bonnet and the addition of extra work-lights on the roof.

A walk around the rear of the tractor reveals that Deere has fitted larger Category IV lift arms, giving the 8530 37% extra lift capacity over the 8520.

Examination under the hood reveals not only an interesting opening and support mechanism, but also Deere’s new Tier III compliant nine-litre PowerTech engine.

Fears that Tier III emissions legislation would lead to increases in fuel consumption and a reduction in power are quashed by Deere which claims that power has in fact been increased over the outgoing 8520 – by 35hp on the 8530 model – while fuel consumption is claimed to be down by 5%.

Keen to try out the new machine, it is up into the cab next.

Things here are again familiar – anyone who has spent time on a 7020 or 8020 series machine will feel at home almost instantly.

The longer bonnet does increase that feeling of distance between you and the nose, but as in previous 8000-series tractors the “wasp-waist” provides excellent views to the area around the front wheels.

One change that stands out in the cab is the transmission control.

Unlike its smaller siblings – which retain the option of a powershift box – the 8530 is only available with Deere’s stepless AutoPowr transmission.

Customers can choose to have the direction shuttle integrated into the main transmission control lever, leaving the left hand to deal with steering.

Turning the key in the adjustable steering column fires up the 330hp engine and it immediately becomes apparent how quiet the cab is.

Deere has added under-floor insulation to dampen noise and, combined with two sound diffusers in the rear of the cab, this is said to drop levels down to 72dBa.

Selecting the direction of travel from the control lever and pressing the throttle sends the machine away in a smooth action.

Floor the throttle and the engine’s muscle can be felt as the tractor accelerates almost effortlessly away up to just over 40kph, even lugging an 18,000-litre tanker.

Sceptics will say that an infinitely variable transmission cannot perform effectively in heavy draft applications.

We hitched the tractor up to a 12-furrow Gregoire Besson plough to test that theory.

Even working in the light soils of north-eastern Germany, a 12-furrow plough is still a demanding subject for any tractor.

Setting it into work and heading off down the field – with the relevant transmission mode selected – the tractor pulls extremely well, getting up to speeds of between 7kph and 8kph (4-5mph).

Integrated into the right-hand armrest, electronic spool-valves paddles handle the hydraulics for the headland turnaround, spinning the large plough over with ease and speed.

To test how the big tractor performs with combined heavy draft and pto applications, we hooked up to a three-ridge bed former.

The speed of travel is adjusted and set via the main control lever – to test the engine’s lugging ability it is pulled right back to zero, then pushed back up to 5kph in one swift move.

The big powerplant doesn’t disappoint.

It drops a maximum of 200rpm before recovering both revs and forward speed to the preset level – impressive stuff.

Some will remain sceptical about the IVT transmission and whether its cost can be justified for a tractor that is primarily going to be used to perform heavy tillage applications.

With fuel consumption becoming an increasingly contentious issue, the claimed benefits of a stepless transmission in maximising tractor efficiency may be worth considering.