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There is an immediate feel of quality, and lots of glass with narrow front pillars so visibility is excellent and the driving position is very comfortable.
Matthew Hawthorne & Matt Whiting, farm manager in Suffolk and operator England - 313 Vario
There is an immediate feel of quality, and lots of glass with narrow front pillars so visibility is excellent and the driving position is very comfortable.

A ‘giant of a small tractor’

Fendt’s 300 Vario series tractors have a strong reputation with livestock and grassland farms in Alpine Europe and are one of the manufacturer’s most successful ranges on the continent. Significant updates in 2015 included features which will increase appeal to arable farmers. Farmers Guide took the  flagship 313 for an extended test to see how it fared.

The 300 Vario range includes four models from 110–138hp available in Power and Pro equipment levels. Power variants are designed for hands-on functional applications while Pro models o er greater comfort and more features for increased performance. The top of the range 313 Vario Pro model supplied for Farmers Guide test was loaned to Euston Estate in north-Suffolk.

The farm

Comprising approximately 2,510ha (6,215) acres farmed in-hand by Euston Farms, crops include wheat, barley, maize, rye and sugar beet. Vegetables are grown on the farm in partnership with RG Abrey Farms. Other enterprises include outdoor pigs and free-range poultry and the farm has its own herd of Red Poll cattle, with Su olk Punch horses and Suffolk Sheep completing the Suffolk Trinity. Large areas of grassland support HLS agreements and provide animal grazing.

The farm was chosen partly because it doesn’t currently run any Fendt tractors, but also because its fleet includes several brands, so farm staff experience different makes and models. The range of crops ensures there are always field tasks to be carried out and, with a variety of soil types, operations can be adjusted in response to the weather.

“The new 300 Vario has brought the features users like in the larger models down to the lower horsepower end of our product range,” explained Fendt sales support specialist for UK and Ireland, Ed Dennett. “There was sometimes a feeling that the series lacked the attention to design immediately apparent in the larger ranges but, with the new model’s introduction, interest from mixed and arable farms has increased. We were keen to work with Farmers Guide and lend it to a large arable farm to see how the tractor fared.”

The test

The 313 Vario arrived on the farm brand new and its main users were farm manager Matthew Hawthorne and machinery operator Matt Whiting. One of its  rst tasks was powering a large Agri-Hire rear discharge spreader, which involved travel on the estate’s private roads from the heap to the spreading site. “My usual tractor is also modern, quality brand but I preferred the Fendt cab,” said Matt. “There is an immediate feel of quality, and lots of glass with narrow front pillars so visibility is excellent and the driving position is very comfortable. We usually have a 210hp tractor on the spreader, which is more than it needs, but I would have expected the Fendt, at just under 140hp, to struggle with the loads we were spreading. We had estimated the total in- eld weight of the tractor and loaded spreader at approximately 17t, and considered it coped well on the gentle slopes but, out of curiosity, we later put it over the farm weighbridge where it proved to be over 24t, so it really was very impressive for a tractor of that size and power.

Matt commented that Fendt’s Vario CVT transmission was superb and he liked the range of operating modes. Fendt’s Field Management function made  eld tasks easy but the lack of a 50kph transmission, which he was used to on his own tractor, was a disadvantage when on the road.

Verdict

Matt Whiting (left) and Matthew Hawthorne of Euston Estate Farms helped Farmers Guide assess the machine during a 3-week test.

Both operators felt the latest 300 Vario was well-designed and equipped for arable farm use and, despite its lower power and smaller size than the usual tractor operated by Matt on the implements, it had proved up to the tasks. Fuel economy was described as very good although, without another tractor carrying out similar tasks alongside, making an accurate comparison was impossible. Matt preferred the cab and controls to those of his usual tractor. “The transmission is superb and the features available mean it’s rewarding to constantly try to maximise output. It’s a giant of a small tractor,” he said.