The Tractor Factor

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If you’re a farm owner, chances are your farm’s best friend is its tractor. Just like automobiles and horse trailers, tractors come “new and improved” every year, as manufacturers try to stay one step ahead of their competitors. The result? Tractors so sophisticated they can in some cases drive themselves.

Tractor expert John Bentley of Manufacturers Diversified Services, in New Holland, Penn., says that size matters in tractors—in several ways. How big a tractor you need, he says, is “determined by how many horses you have. Sizing is important, for too small a tractor, and you’ll work it to death; too large, it can be pure overkill. Size figures in, too, when you need to go through stable doors and through gates on your property.”

Another consideration is?the size of your implements. “Again, size needs to be right, because if you have too small a tractor and too big a spreader, that’s too much weight— uphill, you’ll lose traction, and downhill, you’ll get pushed. Don’t try to pull more than the weight of the tractor, or it’s like the tail wagging the dog,” Bentley says. So consider your current and future uses. (Bentley’s top attachment priorities are loader and fork attachment, manure spreader, and three-point hitch for the rear. A small wagon is always useful, too, he points out.)

The tractor should fit you, too. “Make sure the seat’s adjustable and you can reach the controls. Evaluate the ergonomics; controls should feel comfortable, have an easy on and off,” he adds.

One final size matter, according to Bentley: the size of your supplier. “It’s important to buy from a dealer who has parts on hand and can service the unit,” he says.

What Others Use

At Sycamore Trails in San Juan Capistrano, Calif., Dave Provence handles maintenance and acknowledges that “we’ve been using the same tractor for a few years. We used to use Massey Ferguson because we thought they were the best pulling tractors, with the best hydraulics. But for dragging, we now use Kubota’s 9070 super utility. It’s 4WD, and quite a bit smaller than what we used to use. It doesn’t need huge tires on back.”

The facility, shared by 23 trainers of varying disciplines, is 20 acres of facility. “We drag seven acres of arena, usually once, sometimes twice daily, and put sand in there fairly regularly. Dragging really is the main duty for our farm tractor. We also haul wagons with it and load the jumps on it.”

Provence’s most frequently used attachment is the fast-track harrow, and this do-it-yourselfer makes his own teeth by utilizing the services of a local welder. “When the sand is really heavy, I use two pieces of I-beam to help pack it down.”

Provence also calls upon an English-made Fermec 4WD tractor with front-end loader.

Judy Richter, an accomplished hunter/jumper trainer, author and judge, uses a variety of equipment on her 100+-acre Coker Farm in Bedford, N.Y. She reports that, “We use two John Deere’s—I don’t know the model numbers—and a front-end loader, manure spreader, posthole digger and an assortment of mowing machines. There’s lots of mowing here, and plenty of fencing to do, too.”

Matt Buchanan, assistant facilities manager, at the 72-acre Western North Carolina Agricultural Center in Fletcher, maintains two indoor arenas (one covered) and three outdoor rings with the Ford 3930 and 5410, plus the John Deere 5300 and 5410. “The hardest work they get is during a show,” notes Buchanan.

For prepping the arena surfaces, he likes the Reveal 4-N-1 implement. “It’s four tools in one; it will cut and level the footing, and it’s got a pulverizer on the back,” he says.

Sarah Dalton-Morris’s 86-acre Frazier Farm in Woodbury, Conn., specializes in hunters, jumpers and event horses. She’s been on the farm for 20 years, 10 of them without a tractor. “I did it with a wheelbarrow and rake, and sheep grazed the farm; it was low mechanical maintenance,” says Dalton-Morris. But once she picked up a used Massey Ferguson tractor, voilà! “Life was changed,” recalls Dalton-Morris. “We use it basically for mowing and plowing: it has a blade on the back for snow. We did finally buy a york rake to loosen the dirt. We combine it with a chain drag to go into the fields and break up manure.”

So, if you, too, are looking to make life a little easier around the barn, here is a look at some new offerings in tractors this season. Prices are not included because of the wide range of models and add-on options.

AGCO Corporation

AGCO is the world’s third largest provider of farm equipment, and sells tractors that range in horsepower from 17 to 500, to fit a variety of needs. Brands include AGCO, Massey Ferguson and Fendt. Here are the highlights for barn owners:

The new AGCO ST compact tractor series is available in eight models ranging from 24 to 44 hp. Attachments include loaders, mid-mount mowers, front blades and backhoes. Safety features include rollover protective structures (ROPS) and seat belts. All ST compacts are protected with a full-coverage, radiator-to-drawbar warranty for 1,500 hours or 24 months, whichever occurs first. Optional extended warranty protection is available.

Massey Ferguson is a workhorse with models available from 17 to 225 hp. Equestrians are best served by its two compact series, 1200 and 1400, and two midrange series, the 200 (basic value models)?and 4300 (low clearance). The 1200 Series compact tractors, which have 16.6 to 40.1 hp diesel engines, are designed for turf care, grounds maintenance, small acreages and light industrial jobs. Power comes from three-cylinder diesel engines. Buyers can choose either 2WD or 4WD with live or independent PTO (power take off), depending upon models. Other popular features include three-point hitches, power steering, folding ROPS (on select models) and a choice of ag, turf or industrial tires.

A wide choice of implements and attachments are available, including mid-mount finish mowers, front-mounted snow blowers, rotary brooms and front blades (on select models). New three-point implements for 2002 are rotary cutters, finish mowers, rotary tillers, box blades, scraper blades, landscape rakes and disk harrows.

In the midrange, two new Massey Ferguson tractors—the MF271XE at 59 PTO hp, and the MF 281XE at 69 PTO hp—offer new features to handle tillage on small farms and light tillage, haying, hauling and other chores on larger farms. Both are available in 2WD and 4WD, with Perkins engines and advanced Ferguson system hydraulics.

Lastly, Fendt’s 400 Series is most appropriate for barn owners. With 72 to 105 PTO?hp, the 400 Series features the Vario transmission, which offers stepless shifting through an unlimited number of speeds, and the Vario terminal, which groups a variety of ­electronic controls and information systems into one central location.

All 400 Series tractors have a large cab, standard-equipment heater and air conditioner, power front axle, load-sensing hydraulics and electronically controlled three-point hitch. They also include an integrated crossgate lever—which controls two remote hydraulic valves with a single lever—plus front wheel assist and shuttle shifting capability. The 400s have a half-frame designed to incorporate front loader attachment points for maximum stability and simple mounting. The design also ensures a low unladen weight on the axles while offering high lifting capacity.

The 400 series consists of the Model 409, with 72 PTO hp; Model 410, rated at 85 hp; Model 411, with 95 PTO hp; and Model 412 rated at 105 hp. All four use a 3.8-liter, four-cylinder diesel engine. Two Fendt loaders are available, the German-built Model 3S-63 and the US-built Model 450 HSL, which has slightly more lift capacity and lift height.

Contact information: Duluth, Georgia; phone (770) 813-9200; www.agcocorp.com.

Belarus Tractor International, Inc.

Imported from the Republic of Belarus for 27 years, these tractors are affordable to buy and operate. Belarus Tractor International is the new name for what was formerly Belarus Machinery, Inc.

For stable or ranch use, the 2000 (22 hp) and 3000 (36 hp) series provides 2WD or 4WD options and a power steering system for maneuvering in tight spaces. The low-profile 8011L or 9011L models deliver 81 hp and 98 hp, respectively. Both these models feature low clearance, which was designed for barn use, plus rollover protection and hydrostatic power steering. They have sturdy lift capabilities for using the loader, helpful for moving hay bales or cleaning stable areas; for haying, there’s the option of hooking up the hay baler on the three-point hitch.

Contact information: Milwau­kee, Wisconsin; phone (800) 356-2336; www.belarus.com.

Cub Cadet

Manufacturing tractors for 40 years, Cub Cadet offers its 7264 Compact Tractor with a 26 hp Daihatsu diesel engine, fully enclosed with an under-hood muffler for a quieter ride. The tractor has SensiTrak (on-demand 4WD), hydrostatic transmission and a fully welded steel frame with no-bolt construction. Also equipped with hydrostatic power steering, the tractor comes with foldable rollover protection, making it simpler to move around in low-overhead areas. The large, open operator’s station features pushbutton PTO and single pedal foot control. Optional attachments include backhoe, loader and rear- and mid-mount mowers.

Barn owners may also want to consider Cub Cadet’s similar but less-expensive model 7254 and the 36-hp 7360SS.

Contact information: Cleve­land, Ohio; phone (330) 225-2600; www.cubcadet.com.

Iron Horse Tractor, Inc.

Iron Horse Tractor offers a line of diesel tractors priced up to 20 to 50 percent lower than some competitive models, according to the company. Its 4WD compact diesel utility IHT-254 has a three-cylinder, 18- or 28-hp, water-cooled diesel engine. The tractor comes with a full hydraulic power steering system and high/low range transmission, plus additional creeper high/low for a total of 12 speeds forward and four reverse. It has a two-stage dry disc clutch and a locking rear differential. Hydraulics run at 9.9 gallons per minute at 2,200 PSI. The tractor is equipped with a ­quick-disconnect front end loader; standard equipment includes a folding rollover bar and fiberglass hood. The three-point hitch has a capacity of 1,200 pounds lift. Five three-point hitch implements are available.

Contact information: Hopkinton, Massachusetts; ph. (508) 435-4834; www.ironhorsetractor.com.

John Deere

Deere designed its 5020 Series (Models 5220, 5320, 5420 and 5520) with a new, fully integrated and isolated cab to provide barn owners with more room and less vibration and noise. The series features a new air conditioning system and better visibility. Right-side controls are standard for all transmission options. An optional mid-mount hydraulic valve with joystick control allows for fast loader attachment or detachment. There’s a PowerTech 3-cylinder engine in the 45-hp 5220 model and 55-hp 5320 model. The 65-hp 5320 and the 75-hp 5520 models have a ­­4-cylinder engine. All have 27-gallon fuel capacity.

Deere’s 6020 Series tractors are numbered 6120, 6220, 6320 and 6420, with corresponding horsepowers of 65 to 90, all with 4.5 liter PowerTech engines. The 6020 line is available with several variations of three basic transmission options, all of which feature the company’s exclusive PermaClutch2 (three large nine-inch-diameter clutch disks for optimum modulation and smooth operation.) The 6020 tractors also have Deere-designed pressure and flow hydraulics. The company says improvements to the cab have been made in visibility, comfort, safety and convenience; two types of seats are offered. All daily service points are accessible from the ground level.

Contact information: Lenexa, Kansas; phone (800) 503-3373; www.johndeere.com.

Kawasaki Motors Corp., U.S.A.

Introduced in 1998, Kawasaki’s popular Mule 3000 Series utility vehicles includes models 3000, 3010 and 3020. All have a pushbutton hood release to reveal a large storage compartment. Fenders are bulged and rounded to deter mud and debris, and cargo bed siderails are taller than on the previous model, the 2500. These vehicles feature a tiltable cargo bed, four-wheel independent suspension, fully automatic transmission and a bench seat. Carrying capacity for the cargo bed is 800 pounds; towing capacity is 1,200 pounds.

A large radiator and fan cool the 617cc 90-degree four-stroke V-twin engine. A continuously variable transmission (CVT) transfers power from the vehicle’s engine and provides a wide ratio for pulling and quick acceleration. The Mule 2510 is a diesel version.

Contact information: Irvine, California; phone (949) 770-0400; www.kawasaki.com.

KIOTI

Kioti Tractor is owned by Daedong Industrial Company, the largest manufacturer of agricultural equipment in South Korea. Kioti’s DK35 is a 4WD compact tractor with a 35-hp engine, eight-speed forward/

reverse synchronized shuttle transmission, independent front/rear PTO, hand and foot accelerators, 2,270-pound lift capacity and many standard features. Kioti offers the LK Series (19 to 30 hp) and DK Series (35 to 65 hp) equipped with 4WD, shuttle transmission, PTO and three-point hitch system.

Contact information: Kioti Tractor Div., Wilson, NC; (252) 291-6111; www.kiotitractor.com

Kubota

Japanese brand Kubota entered the U.S. in 1968 and founded Kubota Tractor Corporation in 1972. It is the only tractor manufacturer to build its own diesel engines and all major equipment components.

The new BX22 subcompact tractor features a six-foot backhoe and front loader and has a 22-hp, three-cylinder, liquid-cooled Kubota

­­­E-TVCS diesel engine built for low noise and cleaner emissions. The model comes standard with 4WD, two-speed hydrostatic transmission and a standard rear differential; it also has a PTO clutch. Seven BX-series implements use the company’s quick-attach no-tools design.

Designed for the small farmer, Kubota’s MX5000 comes in both 2WD and 4WD models. The tractor is powered by the company’s 50-hp, E-TVCS indirect injection diesel engine with 44 PTO hp. The MX5000 has hydrostatic power steering, and 4WD models have a bevel-gear front wheel drive system.

Contact information: Torrance, California; phone (888) 458-2682; www.kubota.com.

New Holland

New Holland’s new three-cylinder, 30-hp TC30 compact tractor can be customized with a choice of automatic or manual transmissions and 2WD or 4WD, among other choices. High-capacity live hydraulics, delivering 6.1 gpm, coupled with a heavy-duty rear axle, allow a three-point hitch lift of 1,635 pounds to handle heavier and wider implements. Eleven implements are available, including rear scoop, backhoe, front loader and rotary tiller. New Holland sells a full line of tractors, as well as hay and forage equipment, harvesting and material handling equipment.

Contact information: A division of CNH Global, N. V., New Holland, Pennsylvania; phone (888) 290-7377; www.newholland.com.na.

Polaris

For barn owners, the Polaris 6X6 utility vehicle comes with an on-demand 6-wheel drive system, automatic Polaris Variable Transmission (PVT) and long-travel MacPherson strut front suspension. It can handle a 1,500-pound payload, but fits in the back of a standard pickup truck. The vehicle is powered by a 30-hp Polaris 500 counterbalanced four-valve, four-stroke liquid cooled engine. There’s a Dual-Sensing transmission, and its PVT requires no shifting. Power is fed to the four rear wheels via shaft drive—a dash-mounted switch activates the all-wheel drive system. Full cab enclosures and windshields protect the driver. Accessories include a plow frame and a 72-inch plow blade with power lift kit; a winch can be installed onto the front frame.

Contact information: Medina, Minnesota; phone (763) 542-0500; www.polarisindustries.com.

Saukville Tractor

Saukville Tractor, incorporated in 1994, builds a high-visibility rear-engine tractor for small farm tasks. Six models are available, differentiated primarily by their engines. Barn owners often choose the 20- and

­­25-hp models, with Kohler air-cooled gasoline engines. The tractors offer power steering, up-front visibility, wheel width adjustment (from 40 to 60 inches), hydrostatic transmission for high torque at low speeds and a speed range from creep to full transport, and individual disk-turning brakes. These models can handle a wide range of implements. The tractors have 10-gallon-plus fuel capacity and a hydraulic reservoir of over 15 gallons.

Contact information: Newburg, Wisconsin; phone (888) 818-4304; www.saukvilletractor.com.

Steiner Turf Equipment

Steiner’s most popular model, the 430, offers full-time 4WD, articulated frame, hydrostatic transmission, an illuminated sealed instrument panel, auxiliary hydraulic quick couplers and power steering. Barn owners can select air- and liquid-cooled engines ranging from 20 to 25 hp. Steiner’s Quick-Hitch attachments include mowers, blades, scoops and blowers. Accessories available are a roll bar, three-point hitch, turf tires, canopy and front fenders.

The newest model, the UM428 Utilimax, is the company’s largest and most powerful machine. It’s a vehicle and tractor combined, with either gasoline or diesel-powered, liquid-cooled engines ranging from 26.5 to 31 hp. Comfort features include a tilt steering wheel, adjustable seat and accessible controls. More than 30 QuickHitch attachments are available; the company promises you can switch attachments in five minutes or less.

Contact information: Dalton, Ohio; phone (330) 828-0200; www.steinerturf.com.

Should You Buy Used?

For many barn owners, pricing makes used tractors the right option. Ron DePue of Homestead Tractor in Apple Valley, Calif., sees lots of demand for used tractors. “Most people in the equine field, orchards and the like buy tractors in the 15 to 35 horsepower range for occasional use,” as opposed to the more heavy-duty use required by agricultural farms. And for the typical horse farm, buying used can make good sense. “A well-known brand-name tractor, equipped with a front end loader, can run $21,000 to $26,000, and for people who only buy new, that’s not a problem,”?DePue says. “But that same-equipped tractor here can cost only $8,000.”

Another option is to buy a reconditioned tractor. “Many companies sell remanufactured tractors, many coming out of Japan,” he says, such as the Mitsubishi, Yanmar, Shibaura, Iseki and Hinomoto rebuilds he carries. The end result is, just about anyone can afford to get the tractor they need. —SS

Implements

Country Manufacturing

Country Manufacturing produces harrows—the Adjusta-Flex Tine, Flexible Tine and Rotary Conditioner, plus the Arena Ripper, manure spreaders, wagons and trailers.

The Adjust-Flex, available in two sizes, allows the operator to adjust width, length and aggressiveness for smoothing rough arenas, breaking up manure, de-thatching pastures and for general ground maintenance.

Its Rotary Conditioner harrow is for renovating arenas, driveways or any other sand, soil or gravel surface. It comes in three sizes and is equipped with two-foot-diameter rotors that are self-driven, a result of being set at a five-degree angle; no power take-off is required.

The model 1200 Manure Spreader is a 74-bushel ­tractor accessory designed for the horseman. It is a ground-driven unit with independent clutches for the drag chain and beaters and can be pulled by any 18-hp-or-larger utility tractor.

Contact information: Fredericktown, Ohio; (740) 694-9926; www.countrymfg.com.

Mill Creek Manufacturing

Millcreek Mini-Spreaders are small enough to fit through narrow barn doors and are easily maneuverable, and they are made low so that loading them does not require lifting a full manure fork higher than 26 inches or so. They work with garden tractors, ATVs, and utility vehicles such as the Gator or Mule.

Standard or an option on all models is the poly floor, made from recycled plastic milk containers, which is impervious to rust, rot and corrosion, say manufacturers. The black plastic floor looks like tongue and groove boards and has a 20-year warranty. The Rhino Liner option, provided on Millcreek John Lyons Signature Model units, adds a sprayed-on ­liquid plastic that coats the inside walls of the steel spreader box to combat the corrosive manure and urine in shavings. Rhino Liner comes with a 10-year warranty.

Models are available in seven sizes. Model numbers—15, 25 and 35 for mini-spreaders (including the 25 and 35 John Lyons Signature Models), 50, 75, 100 and 125 for compacts—correspond roughly to the capacity in cubic feet or bushels.

Contact information: Bird in Hand, Pennsylvania, (800) 311-1323, www.millcreekmfg.com.

Parma Company

The Parma Arena Groomer and Mini Groomer are designed to prepare the footing base, as well as the top surface, in one pass. The units use vibrating “S” tines that can be set to the desired digging depth. Following the tines is a leveling bar that shaves off high spots and carries dirt to fill holes as the operator passes over the arena. A roller at the rear conditions the surface and also gauges the depth of the tines in order to leave a uniform finish. The Mini Groomer comes in five- or six-foot widths; the Arena groomer is eight feet wide. The company also builds special sizes on request.

Contact information: Parma, Idaho; (208) 722-5116; www.parmacompany.com.

D. J. Reveal, Inc.

The REVEAL 4-N-1 is a three-point hitch, hydraulically-controlled tool that allows the operator to change the depth of footing without leaving the tractor seat. The four tools are chisel plow, land leveler, scraper box and pulverizer. The tool, originally designed for landscaping, has been adopted by barn owners to condition arenas.

The 4-N-1 can dig up ground or to firm it down, to provide the right surface condition for any style of riding. It also works on different types of ground materials including gravel driveways, sand, clay, dirt, rubber-added, etc. Sizes range from six-foot lightweight units to eight-foot heavyweights. Wider units of 10-, 12- and 14-foot widths are built to order.

Contact information: Mt. Orab, Ohio; (937) 444-2609; www.reveal4-n-1.com.

TR3 Rake

The TR3 Rake grades, loosens, and rakes with one tool. It is designed to be pulled by tractors ranging from 18 to 120 hp, and is available in models ranging from 3.5 feet wide to 14 feet. The implement’s drag bar does the grading, controlling depth automatically due to its construction of stabilizing wheels with no hydraulic parts. The wheels are foam filled. The Rake can also be used to grade gravel driveways and eliminate potholes, recondition or prepare a paddock, or spread material.

Contact information: HydroSeed Innovations, Inc., Osceola, Indiana; (877) 788-7253; www.tr3rake.com.