For Richard Thorpe Agricultural Contractors, future-proofing the tractor fleet has seen agradual phase-out of one shade of green for another.
The Ashwellthorpe, Norfolk-based contractor bought his first Fendt, an 820, in 2008 following concerns about reliability and fuel consumption with his existing tractor fleet. “Diesel prices only ever seem to go one way,” notes Richard Ford. “And with tractors covering around 800 hours per year, we have to make the most of every drop of diesel.” Fuel efficiency is an observation shared by his operator Simon Peacock, who spends his days at the wheel of the contractor’s most recent purchase – a 936 Pro Plus.
“In a typical 15-hour day pulling a 4.5m Sumo Trio, the 936 uses 120 litres less diesel than the tractor it replaced,” says Simon Peacock.
“The 936 is comfortably in charge of the job and delivers the same productivity. "
For Richard Ford, the move to Fendt with its integrated Vario transmission is one that allows the tractor electronics to manage engine revs and performance according to load and speed.
“I use the foot pedal for road work and joystick for field use,” says Mr Ford. “And if the tractor doesn’t need all its performance, the engine eases back while maintaining your chosen forward speed. With fully adjustable remote valves, hydraulic performance doesn’t suffer either."
He explains that running a mixed fleet over the last few years was as an opportunity tolay cards on the table with local dealers.
“When we bought our first Fendt six years ago I was stunned by the purchase price,” he says. “But when you take into consideration the fuel savings and residual value, my Fendts are proving to be the best value tractors we’ve ever owned."
“I had my eyes opened – not just with fuel, but also operator comfort, ease of use and versatility,” he says. “I like the fact you can also make a powerful tractor tread very lightly, and quickly add ballast when needed.” “It takes minutes to remove 4,500 kg of ballast from the 936, which immediately means a much lighter footprint and greater efficiency,” he says. That first Fendt 820 has since been swapped for a newer 820, and the arrival of 930 Vario and 936 Pro Plus models have now created an all-Fendt fleet at Ashwellthorpe. With the exception of the 936, the others were bought secondhand through TNS, with extended warranties to give peace of mind. But with 5,500 hours now under its belt, the 2007-model 930 is to be replaced by an 828, representing Mr Ford’s second new Fendt purchase.
“The gures are so good I’m buying a new 828 for me,” he says. “I’ve added LED headlights and worklights, plus an Evo Active seat and a front pto to run a topper. ”He reports that dealer backup through TNS is excellent and Mr Ford is convinced that Fendt tractors now hold the key to greater efficiency for his business. “I wasn’t disappointed with my previous tractor choices, but the dealer had become complacent and I was left thinking that maybe there was an alternative,” he says. “Since making the change to Fendt, there is no going back."