Two-way concept finds fans in UK
Tractor maker New Holland
is trying to assess likely
European demand for its
latest Bidirectional tractor
– the TV140. As Peter Hill
reports, two UK farmers are
already sold on the machines
GIVEN the enormous choice of tractors that UK farmers and contractors have at their disposal, anything that warrants going through the rigmarole of personally importing a model that is not available here, must have something special going for it.
Gordon Beattie and Jim Baxter clearly felt that way when it came to the features promised by the New Holland 9030 Bidirectional tractor. Both imported examples of this hydrostatic-drive, articulated-chassis tractor from Canada and both feel it was worth the trouble.
"It is brilliant," is Gordon Beatties summary of the multi-purpose machine that lacks draft traction control, but makes up for it with features and performance characteristics unavailable on conventional tractors.
"It has unbelievable performance on a silage clamp," says farmer and contractor Jim Baxter. "Its climbing ability is better than any machine with a torque converter."
The 9030 tractor is predecessor to the TV140 that New Holland is evaluating for possible sale in Europe (Machinery, July 10).
It follows the same concept that originated with the Canadian Versatile tractor company long before it became part of the New Holland empire. But the new machine brings the vehicle up to date with modern styling, components, electronics and cab design.
Gordon Beattie at Carsegownie Farm near Forfar, Angus, imported his 9030 some 18 months ago since when it has clocked up more than 2000 hours.
The 425ha (1050 acres) farm grows mainly wheat, barley, oilseed rape, peas and potatoes, and runs 350 beef cattle.
"It is used as a loader occasionally but mostly as a field tractor," says Mr Beattie. "It offers much better visibility and speed control than any conventional tractor."
The articulated steering, which means the back wheels follow in the path of the front wheels, makes it ideal for spraying and fertiliser application because less crop is run down at turns, he points out. The 9030 runs on 1.22m (48in) row-crop wheels for this work, giving as much ground clearance beneath the portal axles as many purpose-made sprayers.
Where visibility and implement are the main requirements, the 9030 is operated "backwards" so the driver has a clear view ahead, ideal for oilseed rape swathing, inter-row cultivations in turnips and potatoes, for mowing silage grass, and flail trimming hedges at Carsegownie Farm, says Mr Beattie.
"This is the way it is designed to go because all controls fall more easily to hand and you get a very clear view," he adds. "The articulated steering makes it very handy in the yard and the tractor has good pull and traction, even on narrow row-crop tyres."
Fine speed control from the three-range hydrostatic drive was the Bidirectionals chief attraction for Lancs farmer and contractor Jim Baxter. Based at Nook Farm, Cuerden, near Preston, he grows arable crops on 600ha (1500 acres) and runs a contracting operation with silage-making, combining, potato harvesting, rape swathing and manure spreading services. "You cant always get just the right forward speed for potato harvesting, even with a semi-powershift transmission," he says. "But with hydrostatic drive, it is no problem; you can run at any ground speed you like while keeping a fixed pto speed to run the harvester."
His 9030 Bidirectional tractor was brought in from Canada five years ago and now has 4100 hours on the clock. It is kept busy operating a four-row haulm topper, hedge and verge cutting (with the Bomford flail head reversed so the tractor can be run "backwards" for visibility), and as a loader, handling pallets, big bags of fertiliser and seed, and on the silage clamp.
"We mostly rely on a couple of big capacity industrial loading shovels for clamp work, but the 9030 does a good job when we need a back-up," says Mr Baxter. "The hydrostatic drive makes it very responsive and it climbs really well, better than machines with torque converter drive really."
The articulated steering also gives the loader an element of "sideshift", which can be handy for placing potato boxes or picking big bags off trailers without having to leave the seat.
But the articulated chassis has also been the 9030s biggest downfall for the job that Jim Baxter most had in mind for the tractor – potato harvesting.
"The problem is in the pto shaft geometry when you make a headland turn. It is OK at first, but when you come to straighten up, the angle and rapid movement of the tractors back-end puts a real strain on the long pto shaft fitted to the harvester," he explains. "That has been quite a disappointment because, in other respects, this tractor is ideal for the job."
Another criticism, which comes from his long experience with the tractor, is a front-end hydraulic linkage that is "next to useless" because of its poor lift capacity and geometry. That, and the lack of visibility when working "forwards".
Both aspects are addressed with the TV140 design; a higher seating position and curved bonnet helps the view forward (although it is a longer tractor with bigger wheels, so it is perhaps more a case of ensuring things are no worse), and the optional engine-end linkage lifts 2268kg as opposed to the 8030s more paltry 1361kg.
Jim Baxter remains cautious about the new design until trying it – to test its manoeuvrability, in particular – for himself.
"The longer wheelbase cant help the turning circle and I think the tractor is longer overall," he points out. "But I do like the extra loader capacity, the reversible control layout and the far superior cab design; if we can just crack that pto business, it would be an attractive machine." *
CHANGES: TV140 v 9030
• More power (135hp v 116hp) – though TV140 loses more at the pto (105hp v 102hp).
• Meatier hydrostatic drive.
• Longer wheelbase.
• Bigger diameter wheels and tyres.
• Change-on-the move range selection.
• Controls rotate with seat.
• Roomier cab, better visibility.
• More fuel capacity.
• Increased front linkage lift.
• Loader lifts more to greater height with more forward reach.
The TV140 Bidirectional, which New Holland is evaluating for sale in Europe, is bigger, has change-on-the-move range selection and an instrument console that turns with the seat to face front or rear.
"It is brilliant," is Gordon Beatties summary of the New Holland 9030 Bidirectional tractor he imported from Canada 18 months ago.
Carsegownie Farms push-me, pull-you 9030 is used for crop spraying, oilseed rape swathing, row crop cultivations, mowing silage grass, and flail trimming hedges.