Despite low sales, 2000 has
been a busy year in terms of
with a wide selection of kit
to cater for most areas of
farming. Andy Moore
reviews the year to date
THE new millennium – the dawn of a new era for machinery sales? Not so, it would seem.
Despite such carrots as machinery price reductions, low and zero finance offers, UK producers, in the main, have been reluctant to make significant investment in new machinery.
A glance at this years low tractor sales is perhaps all that is needed to tell the tale.
Although sales increased by 41% in January, followed by a 10% rise in February, sales in March and April dropped by nearly 100 and 200 units respectively, compared with the same months in 1999.
In June, half-yearly tractor sales looked promising at 5290 units, although the rest of the year took a turn for the worse with sales barely different from 1999.
Despite sales being down, average tractor horsepower in the first six months of 2000 increased from 110hp to 115hp, compared with the same period last year.
AEA figures confirm the 121hp to 140hp sector was the most popular, with 1310 units sold, compared with 1001 units for the first six months of last year.
And the score so far?
According to the AEA, for the first nine months of 2000, total tractor sales over 40hp amounted to 8772 – 5.4% less than in 1999.
Compared to previous years, 2000 has been relatively quiet in terms of tractor range launches – manufacturers perhaps waiting until Smithfield to reveal their latest machines.
Fendt kicked the year off in April with the launch of its Farmer 400 Vario range – a three-model line-up comprising the 85hp 409, 100hp 410 and the 110hp 411.
The Vario transmission used on these tractors is a scaled down version of the type employed in the higher horsepower 700 and 900 series models, designed to operate exactly the same.
Fendt also took the opportunity to add 115hp and 125hp models to its 700 series range, together with boosting power outputs and improving the styling of the 900 series.
In early May, Renault entered the 200hp plus tractor market with the birth of its Atles range – a range including the 915, 925 and 935 which are rated at 190hp, 217hp and 240hp respectively.
Fitted as standard with Renaults RZ Hydrostable cab, the Atles tractors are powered by 7.2lt 6cyl Deutz engines, driving through a full powershift 18/8 transmission.
At the same time as the Atles launch, Renault also seized the chance to bring in its four model Temis tractor series – which the company describes as a no frills range, priced from £30,000.
Considered to be a hybrid of Renaults T and Ares range, the Temis tractors feature major changes under the bonnet.
Out went the MWM block – and in came the 4cyl DPS PowerTech unit for the 97hp model and 6cyl Iveco engines for the 105hp, 124hp and 147hp tractors.
At the start of the show season, a handful of manufacturers began trickling in tractors that varied from mid-range European machines to American monsters.
Same Deutz Fahr chose the Cereals event to provide its visitors with a glimpse of the Agrotron MK 3 series – a range which encompasses models rated at 120hp, 130hp, 150hp and 165hp.
Also making a UK working debut at the Cereals event was an example of John Deeres giant 9000T tracklayer range, following the introduction of its wheeled 9000 equivalent models last year.
Power for the 9300T and 9400T tracklayers is provided by 12.5lt PowerTech units, delivering 360hp and 425hp respectively through a 24 speed PowrSynch transmission.
At the end of June, the Highland Show gave UK importer Motokov the opportunity to show its mid range line up of Landini Ghibli tractors.
The Ghibli range, rated at 78hp, 88hp and 93hp, slots in between Landinis Globus and Mythos series – replacing the higher horsepower 80 series that was launched 10 years ago.
Last summer also saw the long awaited production of the Steyr CVT and Case CVX tractor range start at St Valentin, Austria after its preview at Agritechnica 99.
Developed over several years by Steyr-Daimler-Puch, the transmissions offer the ability to provide continuously variable speed control from 0-50kph without any interruption in tractive force.
For the UK market, Case will distribute the 130hp and 170hp models, with Steyr, through importer Bonhill Marketing completing the line-up with 120hp, 130hp and 170hp machines.
All tractors are powered by 6.6lt 6cyl turbocharged Valmet engines, with front axle and cab suspension optional or as standard on selected models.
Just when it was believed Case had gone quiet for another year, the company sprung a surprise in early August by launching what is now currently the most powerful production tracklayer in the UK – the STX440.
Built in Fargo, North Dakota, the 440 heads a four-model range which also includes machines rated at 275hp, 325hp and 375hp.
The line-up is also available as wheeled tractors, although it is the Quadrac builds which Case intends to push the most – after selling 50 such machines since they were introduced in 1997.
Power for the 440 is provided by a truck-tested 15lt Cummins engine, running at 2000 rpm and delivering a peak output of 480hp.
Transmitting drive to the four tracks is via a full powershift box offering 16 forward gears (eight for field work)and two reverse speeds.
Combines for the 2001 season took a significant reshuffle this year with five of the six main manufacturers consolidating or rationalising existing ranges.
Kicking off in early September was Massey Ferguson, which announced the arrival of its latest range topping Cerion 7278 – a combine claimed to provide 20% higher output than the MF 40 machine.
The 7278 is powered by a 387hp Sisu engine, operating a 7.2m (25ft) Powerflow header and eight rather than six straw walkers to boost harvesting efficiency in a variety of crop types, says MF.
On the rotary side, Massey Ferguson also introduced the US-built 8780 combine which supersedes the 8570 and 8590 from the mid-1980s.
Engineered to cope with the higher volumes of straw grown in European countries, the 8780 is powered by a 290hp Cummins engine and can be equipped with headers ranging from 6.1m to 7.7m (20ft to 25ft).
In mid September, Deutz-Fahr hit the headlines by unveiling two new combine ranges.
At the bottom of the range, out went the Starliner 4040M and 4045H models and in came the Ectron 5530H.
Powered by a 170hp Deutz engine, the Ectron offers five straw walkers, a 1270mm threshing cylinder and cutting widths up to 5.4m (18ft).
Moving up the range, the Powerliner 4060 was given the red card, while the five straw walker 205hp and 240hp 4065HTS and 4069HTS remain in play.
Heading the Deutz Fahr combine range is the new 5000 series – a range starting with the 5670HTS rated at 260hp and the 5680HTS and 5690HTS that are powered by liquid cooled Deutz engines providing 280hp and 320hp respectively.
Other combine introductions for 2001 were launched by Claas and John Deere.
Aimed at the small to medium grower, the Claas Medion range includes the 320 and 340 – combines which replace the Dominator 98VX and 108VX machines respectively.
For John Deeres input, the company added a Hillmaster option to its 9780 CTS combine, together with cosmetic design improvements which were also included on the level land machine.
Concluding the combine reshuffle was Case which announced what it believes to be a number of significant enhancements for its 2300 series Axial Flow combines.
In addition to the companys Advanced Farming System (AFS), Case improved operator ergonomics and mechanical components, amounting to a total of 20 design changes.
Perhaps the biggest industry news on the handler front in 2000 was Caterpillars decision to take over the Claas range of telescopic loaders.
Under the agreement, Caterpillar took over the Claas Teleporter production plant at Saxham, Suffolk, with Claas retaining manufacture of loaders for the agricultural market.
Production of construction/industrial models were transferred to the Caterpillar plant near Leicester which are to be sold under the Caterpillar brand name through the companys world-wide dealer network.
Also taking advantage of a company take-over was US machinery manufacturer Terex Lifting which plans to revive the Matbro range, following the acquisition of parent company Powerscreen last August.
Due to certain design rights, Terex are permitted to build only rigid versions of the former Matbro TR250-110 until 2001. These include the TM200R and the larger articulated TM250R.
Terex plans to make 50 of each rigid boom model – eventually increasing production with telescopic booms models up to 600 units per annum in two years time.
In early spring, Manitou came up trumps with the launch of its MLA 628T pivot steer telehandler which is based on the 627T machines – but with improvements in the boom and transmission departments, according to Manitou.
Powered by a 106hp Perkins unit, the 628T offers a longer boom to improve balance and new boom nose with external tilt ram and Z linkage to increase visibility of an attachment.
On the transmission front, the handler was treated to two extra gear ratios, creating six forward speeds in its Clark 12000 powershift unit.
Moving from red to yellow livery, JCB used the Royal Show to launch its side-engined 535-95 telehandler – a machine which has a 9.5m three stage boom and 3.5t maximum lift capacity.
Also new from JCB was the companys Smooth Ride System (SRS) which can be fitted to 530 and 540 JCB telehandlers.
At the Royal Show, Bobcat brought out a telescopic handler, following its take-over of Sambron.
Not, says Bobcat, a Sambron paint job, the TS3093 is new machine, based on Sambron technology.
Other new handlers to hit the market this year include John Deeres first in-house designed and built 3000 series, which was launched after two years development.
The need to increase work rates, reduce chemical costs and adhere to strict spraying legislation have always posed challenges for sprayer manufacturers, and this year was no exception with a selection of new developments.
At the Sprays and Sprayers event, a number of new machine launches indicated that the sprayer market is still fairly buoyant, despite the tough times in agriculture.
Sands Agricultural Machinery used the event to introduce a new self propelled sprayer – the Sam 3000 Lowline, which includes a new cab, control system and all-round mudguards.
Powered by a 133hp Deutz engine, driving through Poclain wheel motors, the 3000 Lowline features a 3000lt tank capacity and boom width options up to 30m.
Also new on the self-propelled scene was Hardis Alpha range, which now includes two larger models – the 3400 and 4100.
Both sprayers are driven by 167hp Deutz engines which project at the front of the sprayer to exert equal loadings on the front and rear axles whether the machine is full or not.
The Alpha range can be fitted with booms extending from 20m to 36m, with suspension comprising a pendulum system with anti-yaw and anti-roll.
Catering for growers with lower price budgets was a range of trailed and demount sprayers developed between Woodhall Spa-based Spraycare and Hungarian manufacturer Farmgep.
The range includes 2500lt and 2000lt trailed sprayers and a 2000lt Fastrac demount sprayer.
Farmgep design and build the chassis and tank, while Spraycare develops the boom and spraying equipment – such as the Teejet 834 automatic control system which provides automatic control of volumes according to forward speed.
Other developments to be found in 2000 was Hardis Commander Plus trailed range and Technomas TX Flotec sprayers.
Hosting four cultivation machinery events, this year produced no shortage of tillage machinery developments – with emphasis placed on reducing establishment costs, increasing yields and boosting workrates.
In May, before the cultivation machinery events took place, Amazone decided to present growers with a sneak preview of its Primera Airstar direct drill range.
Available in 3m, 4m and 6m working widths, the drills are claimed to be capable of overcoming all the barriers associated with direct drilling such as poor germination, low yields and infestations of weed grasses.
Key to the drills is claimed to be the coulter system which comprises two parts – a chisel tine coulter through which seed is placed and a spider wheel.
At Cereals 2000, Simba International launched what it considers to be one of the largest drills to be found on the UK market – the 12m Horsch CO12 Airseeder.
Designed to work directly into stubbles, the cultivator drill employs four banks of tines to create an overall drill gap of 22.5cm (9in).
Seed is held in a 5000lt hopper supported on a steerable axle and metered to the coulters via two distribution heads.
Despite its 8m working width and 300hp plus power requirement, the CO12 folds to 3m.
Also jumping on the direct drill bandwagon was ex-Canadian farmer John Dale, based at Market Rasen, Lincs who unveiled his Zero Till drill.
In a 6m working width, the drill comprises a central hopper and Accord pneumatic metering system mounted on a trailed frame before a row of parallelogram mounted coulters.
On the conventional and minimal till drill side, new introductions included Amazones Variant 3-1500, GFM Agricultures Kockerling, Lelys Cultisystem and the Combi-Speed 300A from Rabe.
Despite the renewed interest in minimal and direct drills, this year also provided selection of ploughs for the UK market. These included Kuhns five to eight furrow Vari-Manager, Dowdeswells 140 and 145 Series and Nauds APHCN and the Jubilee RCN range.
* Forage Equipment
Probably the most significant step in grassland machinery this year has been the trend towards baler/wrapper combinations – with Vicon and New Holland clearly seeing the advantages offered with an all-in-one machine.
With over four manufacturers building such combinations, there is without doubt a market for contractors wishing to reduce machinery and labour costs, compared with the in-line and tractor mounted units.
New Holland used Grassland 2000 to unveil its combination which comprises the companys 544 fixed chamber round baler married to a Swiss-built wrapping system – the Tawi 500.
Manufactured by New Hollands Swiss distributor Grunderco, the wrapping table is available in other versions to fit New Hollands 600 series round balers.
Vicons offering came in the form of the BalePack – a combination which marries the companys RF130 fixed round baler to an on-board wrapping unit.
Designed to carry out baling and wrapping automatically, the BalePack is claimed to take just four seconds longer than the standard RF130 baler to carry out the entire sequence.
In addition to the BalePack, Vicon announced its decision to market a range of trailed and tractor mounted wrappers, after parent group Kvenelands purchase of Finnish baler wrapper manufacture NHK last year.
For those in favour of making clamped silage, Landmec Pottinger used Grassland 2000 as a platform to rekindle the self-loading forage wagon by introducing two models with 60 and 66cu m capacities.
Designated the Jumbo 6000 and 6600 Powermatic, the machines are claimed to cut forage harvesting costs by up to 45%, when compared with those incurred by a 450hp self propelled forager with tractor and trailers.
Landmec Pottinger claims the wagons offer workrates of up to 120t/hr using wide 2m pick-ups, feeding crop through a 1.7m spiral rotor to a 45 knife bank.
Challenging the efficiency of such machines, Claas then launched what it considers to be the worlds largest self-propelled forage harvester – the Jaguar 900.
With 600hp under the bonnet, the 900 boasts 25% more output than the current range leader, the 481hp Jaguar 880.
Harnessing such power calls for a semi-automated hydrostatic transmission and a 6m (20ft) rotary cutter that gathers eight rows of maize.
Other changes include hydraulically reversible feed rolls to spit out forage plugs less aggressively and easier adjustment of maize header auger speed to match feed roller speeds.
Feeding such grass-hungry machines also prompted manufacturers to introduce a range of high output trailed and mounted mowers, together with wide rakes.
To match the appetite of its new Jaguar 900 and other self propelled forage harvesters, Claas introduced the 8.5m 8500C which is claimed to be capable of workrates up to 10ha/hr (25 acres).
Other mowers came in the form of the mounted Taarup TA 3000 series from Kverneland, the trailed AMT 3200CV from Krone and the mounted JF GMS2800 from Westmac. *
John Deere 9400T tractor