When Phillip Vroegh traded four John Deere tractors for four comparably sized Fendt models nearly two years ago, he got more than he expected. Or maybe we should say “less than he expected”. At least that’s what he found when it came top aying the fuel bills.
Vroegh, who operates Sunny Point Farms, a prominent dairy located near Noel, Nova Scotia, expected a more comfortable ride and the smooth performance of the Fendt CVT transmission. He had experienced those features when Central Equipment Company demonstrated the Fendt models before the purchase. He had also been told about their reputation for fuel economy. Still, it came as a pleasant surprise when his annual fuel savings totaled around 10,000 liters (2,642 gallons) in the first year of ownership.
“A salesman can always tell you what you want to hear, ”Vroegh says. “But the fuel savings really has been significant. I also like how quiet and simple they are to operate. The controls look pretty ominous when you get in the tractor for the first time, but they’re actually quite easy to learn.”
With diesel costing about a dollar per liter at the time of his purchase, Vroegh says the $10,000 in fuel savings came from all four tractors doing the same jobs for about the same number of hours as the units they replaced. The Fendt replacement models include a 714, two 718s and an 826. All are equipped with certain features for specific jobs. For instance, the 714is the only model with Fendt VarioGuide satellite-assisted steering - although Vroegh says it will be included on anyfuture purchases.
Hence, it is used for seeding alfalfa, where guidance is a benefit. It’s also used for pulling a silage wagon during harvest. One of the 718 models, meanwhile, is equipped with a Fendt Model 5X90 loader for loading manure and silage, while the other is equipped with a front 3-point hitch and PTO for pushing an 11-foot disc mower. A second 14-foot moweris pulled behind for cutting a 25-foot swatch. Finally, the 826is used for tillage, packing silage and pulling a 5,000-gallon liquid manure spreader. Vroegh says the Fendt tractors are particularly efficient when making a return trip with an emptyforage wagon or manure spreader.
“It’s not comparing apples-to-apples because none of the John Deere tractors had a CVT transmission or a comparable engine management system,” he says. “But when I was spreading manure with the previous tractor, I was using 20 to 22 liters of fuel per hour. With the Fendt 826, I’m using about half that amount, or about 10 to 12 liters per hour.”
Of course, any money Vroegh saves on input costs just means that much more profit for the dairy, since all his cropsare used to feed around 575 head of Holstein cows. Of that total, about 275 are being milked at any one time, while the rest are dry cows and replacement heifers that Vroegh has produced through selective breeding and embryo transplants.
Through careful attention to genetics, diet and feed production, Vroegh has already raised his herd average to 13,000 liters (3,434 gal.) per cow per 305-day lactation. One might be hard pressed to say that his Fendt tractors have helped put any more produce in the milk tank, but one thing is certain. They’ve certainly left more in the fuel tank.