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Geoff Collins stands in front of his Fendt tractors
The 237 horsepower engine never seems to be under stress and the fuel economy is staggering for a machine of its size and capability
Geoff Collins - Owner and founder of Sportfields Ltd., England, Fendt 211, 313, 516, 720, 724, 900 Vario
The 237 horsepower engine never seems to be under stress and the fuel economy is staggering for a machine of its size and capability

Machinery choice helps build the best

Choosing to work with one brand of tractor has provided operational benefits to pitch construction company Sportfields Ltd. The choice of Fendt tractors has helped the business to find and retain staff, instil confidence in customers and reduce operating costs.

Owner and founder Geoff Collins explains that the Fendt range is the right fit for the work he and his team carry out:

“Having one breed of machinery makes it easier for operators to switch between tractors and take full benefit of the pre-sets Fendt provides. The Fendt brand is also recognised by operators and customers as one of the best in the business and this has helped us to attract the best operators and build a reputation for quality pitch construction and establishment,” he says.

He runs 10 Fendts ranging from the 200 Vario to the 900 Vario. With three 313 and three 516 tractors, the focus is on power to weight ratio to enable machinery to carry out heavy work with a lighter footprint.

“Protecting soil health and maintaining grass sward throughout the construction of a pitch is of paramount importance. We need tractors that can develop land in such a way that the soil structure enables the pitch to drain well. Once the grass is established, our tractors are fitted with turf tyres to minimise sward damage and soil compaction,” he says.

The Fendt 211 Vario is the lowest horsepower in the fleet and, with its tight turning circle and up to 124 horsepower output, it is a good fit for what Mr Collins describes as husbandry tasks.

“When a pitch is established the 211’s lightweight body and powerful engine is the best combination for working on grass. It is more than capable of carrying out light groundwork such as soil decompaction using an Imants Shockwave and makes very tidy turns which reduces wheelings at the edge of pitches,” he says.
Fendt 313 Vario in action

He accepts there are limitations to the three cylinder 211 and suggests the larger 313 is better suited to light cultivation work, overseeding and Verti draining work. The 4-cylinder, 140 horsepower engine offers greater torque and is a more versatile tractor, which is why he runs three.

“The 313 is very well suited to our husbandry work and working on pitches during the maturation period. We want to establish grass with a dense sward and work on it as carefully as possible. This enables us to handover the best pitch to our customers,” he adds.

With clients including local authorities, education providers and sports clubs there is often heavier work to carry out before a pitch can be established. Preparing the land is more demanding work and often large quantities of land need to be removed and improved before the levelling and seeding process can begin.

Mr Collins has chosen the Fendt 516 for this work, running three, including two fitted with Fendt’s Cargo loader.

“We often need to load tonnes of sand, gypsum, compost and stone. The visibility from the panoramic cab of the 516, and the ergonomic joystick controls, make it an excellent loading tractor. It can also operate the drainage trencher and gravel carts because it has 160 horsepower and is almost two tonnes heavier,” he says.
Fendt 724 Vario in action

He suggests that whilst the two 700 Vario tractors are commonly used for cultivation work in farming, the 516 is better placed for pitch work because the 4-cylinder engine reduces the overall weight of the tractor.

“A 700 series is too heavy for forming a pitch and are better suited to earthmoving and towing heavy weights long distances. We have an older 720 and Gen 6 724, which our operators love. The 237 horsepower engine never seems to be under stress and the fuel economy is staggering for a machine of its size and capability,” he explains.
Fendt 313, 724 936 Vario stand side by side in the field

A significant part of working with Fendts for Mr Collins is the reputation of the brand. He concedes that operators and customers look carefully at the machinery choices of businesses in pitch construction and the Fendt brand is a sign of quality.

“Health and safety is a critical part of operating with many of our customers. Old, potentially risky machinery is not the way to win business or protect staff. We have invested in our tractors to inspire confidence, and have fitted them with additional health and safety measures such as working lights to show when the operator is belted and working. We also carry up to date service records from Chandlers, who do a great job of keeping the whole fleet running smoothly,” he says.

Dealer back up has also been an important consideration for him and, with Chandlers expanding to cover more of the country, he has greater confidence to take on work further afield.

“We can be 150 miles from our base in Bristol and, whilst tractor problems are rare, it is always good to know that there is a dealer close by,” he adds.

Operator comfort is important to help the team carry out the demanding work and long hours. However, it is also crucial to recruiting the right operators. Mr Collins believes that if an operator is given the choice they would choose to work with a Fendt over other brands.

“We ask our team to work long shifts, doing demanding work. Fendt’s Vario drive, the joystick controls, pre-sets and comfort, all play a part in our ability to recruit good people. The Vario is particularly attractive because operators are often working at creeping speeds and so there is no need for them to be constantly working the gearbox to get the most out of the engine, the Vario does it for them,” he says.

He has chosen to fit the tractors with all the available extras to provide operators with the best working environment, but also to return the best residual values when the time comes to upgrade.

“We run our tractors for up to three years and, when it’s time to switch, the residual value of the Fendts has never disappointed. When a tractor is so well specified new, it offers the second owner technology and features that may not be available on brand new models from other brands. I believe a used Fendt is often a better option than some nearly new tractors,” he says.

He also suggests that inheriting problems caused by previous owners is not an option. The downtime caused by tractor faults could be very costly and potentially damage the reputation of the business.

“There should be enough money in the work we do to provide the best machinery. Having new machines with a comprehensive warranty, that is upheld by a dealer servicing a wide area, minimises risk. I can’t afford for machinery to be out of action, and I want staff and customers to see that, as a business, we are willing to invest in the best machinery to do the best job,” he concludes.
Fendt 936 Vario back view
Fendt 936 Vario front view