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The interplay between the engine and gearbox is as efficient as it gets

Dave Bartlett, Citifarm Manager, Australia - 800 Vario, 500 Vario

The interplay between the engine and gearbox is as efficient as it gets

50 tonnes of sugar cane per hour with 5 Fendt tractors

Dave Bartlett is Operations Manager at Citifarm, which grows more than 1,000 hectares of sugar cane. As well as him, there's a Workshop Manager and 8 permanent staff on the farm. Dave has two major challenges: to calculate firstly the cost of producing sugar cane, and secondly the amount of rain that makes cultivation difficult in the Tweed Valley. He uses four Fendt 822 Varios and a Fendt 512 Vario on his farm.

The 100-day harvest

The 1,000 ha Citifarm is located in a caldera, a valley surrounded by mountains and a dormant volcano. Due to the topography, there is a subtropical climate with strong dry periods but they do have about 1,800 mm of rain per year. For sugar cane, the high rainfall is perfect, but only about 100 days a year remain for soil cultivation and harvesting. Not much time for a plant that needs to be harvested multiple times. One field may get a lot of rain, while another won't get any at all on the same day. That made reliability and low fuel consumption the decisive factors in the new investment.

"We tried a lot of tractor brands in the heat and tough harvest conditions, but after 5,000 hours of work we had to replace the gearboxes. It just wasn't sustainable in the long run,” says Dave. “Some of our Fendt tractors are still running on their original Vario gearbox after 14,000 hours in the sugar cane harvest. We worked out that a Fendt is the most economical despite the acquisition costs, because of its reliability and lower fuel consumption.” Sugar cane is harvested between June and early December at a daily quantity of 600-700 t. The four Fendt 822 Vario tractors pull trailers with a capacity of 12 t during harvest, with the trailer reaching a total weight of 23 t. A single tractor transports an average of 50 t of sugar cane per hour. “I think it's good that the tractors don't have a boost system, so the maximum force is there right away. The functionality of the terminal and the efficient headland management system mean that drivers are still going strong and safely after 12 hours on the machine,” the Australian reiterates.

Sugar cane seedlings are planted mainly with the Fendt 512 Vario ProfiPlus. An accurate pace and precision-led speed changes are essential to adapting the sowing to the soil. The front hydraulics are used for a pesticide tank that can be filled easily and safely by lowering the front power lift. With the pneumatic cab suspension and the same equipment offered in the Fendt 1050 Vario, the Fendt 512 Vario stands out from other tractors in this performance class.

20% less fuel consumption

The Vario gearbox guarantees that the tractor maintains the target speed without any loss of power, even when the traction force requirements change. The interplay between the engine and gearbox is as efficient as it gets,” explains Donny Cloney, Fendt Product Manager for Australia and New Zealand. As the engine produces a lot of torque even at low speeds, it's under less pressure, the noise pollution is low and the tractor consumes less fuel. “Fuel consumption has fallen by 20% since we switched. The tractors have worked about 9,000 hours together and so far I've only had to replace one faulty sensor in the hydraulic oil tank. I'm impressed with the machine's low running costs and reliability, even in the tight and demanding time windows you get with harvesting and sowing,” says the Farm Manager. Dave was very satisfied with the support from sales partner KC Equipment and Fendt Australia. “Last year, we organised a driver training session on the Fendt tractors for our entire team. Donny Cloney from Melbourne came to our company with Tony Cullingworth, Fendt's Plant Representative for Central Queensland, and showed everyone how to get the best results from a Fendt. They were able to organise training early in the morning, before harvest began. That was a big advantage for us because it meant most of the team members were able to attend.”