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On a Fendt, the gearbox and engine work without any loss of power, even in difficult ground conditions.

Tom Gooding, Dalby, Queensland, Australia - Fendt 900 Vario

On a Fendt, the gearbox and engine work without any loss of power, even in difficult ground conditions.

Growing crops under difficult conditions in Australia

Cotton, millet, mung beans, cherry peas – these diverse varieties are grown by Tom Gooding with the help of Fendt 936 Varios with a track gauge of three metres in Dalby, Australia.

Wide tracks down under

Gooding Farm, west of Dalby, is run by Tom with his two brothers and father, Dave. Tom's grandfather bought the farm 40 years ago after selling his dairy farm on the coast. Initially, the Goodings had a cattle farm before bull rearing. But climatic changes made it difficult to obtain food, so, over the past 15 years, Dave and Tom have switched to 3,500 hectares of arable land. “We get along really well and always have fun at work. We talk about the tasks involved and divide them up among us, so we all pitch in,” Tom says of his family of ten.

Stepless tractors from Fendt have been running for 7 years at Gooding Farm – it was the gearbox and engine that won Tom over. “I'd already tried out various stepless tractors, but none of those machines could bring the power to the ground as well as the Fendt
tractors. On a Fendt, the gearbox and engine work without any loss of power, even in difficult ground conditions.” Another advantage is the comfort offered by the 900 series; with single-wheel suspension, sound-insulated cabin and pneumatic cab suspension. “This means I can work at a faster pace on uneven fields than with the machines before,” Tom concludes. The single-wheel suspension supports the tractive power and, as well as traction, these two things are extremely important on the heavy, loamy soils of Gooding Farm, especially after heavy rain.

Tom is deeply impressed by the fuel savings after 5,000 working hours on each. “Sowing is one of the most important tasks in any arable farm and with the Fendt 936 Vario with the 8-row 60" cotton planter attached, I achieved an average fuel consumption of less than 12 l/h. With my previous machines, the lowest average consumption was 23-24 l/h.” Cost savings in fuel and efficiency are just as important to Gooding Farm as performance under difficult growing conditions.

The region is often affected by drought or sudden heavy rain, so the soil can have cracks of up to 10 cm in dry seasons and is almost impossible to navigate after a lot of rain. Some of the land needs to be irrigated so harvest can happen in dry years, too. Controlled Traffic Farming is another method used here. This determines the waylines the first time you cover the land, and now every agricultural machine has used the same track for 10 years. This prevents large-scale soil compaction. Tyre sizes like 710/75 R42 are uncommon in Australia. "Soil compaction can still be detected in the ground up to 5 years later if we drive outside the plotted waylines, and this also affects the growth of the crops. With the wider tyres, the soil compaction is not quite as deep as on other farms where they use very narrow tyres,” says Tom, explaining why he opted for the 710 tyres.

All on a 3-metre track

The Goodings work with a track gauge of 3 metres, so the front axle had to be widened by the company Widetract Extensions in Toowoomba. This conversion is lighter and puts less strain on the front wheels and planetary gears than other options. The rear axle is subject to special clearance under conditions for lighter work, such as sowing, including a reduced permissible axle load. “The tractor must stay as lightweight as possible, and with the 710 tyres I can minimise the soil compaction. So I can achieve good results on the field even at low tyre pressure and start sowing a week earlier than my neighbours."

Reliable and high-quality machines and good service were the main factors for Tom when he was looking into new tractors in 2012. Fendt was not a well-known name in the north-eastern state of Queensland then, but he had heard about the low fuel consumption. So he contacted the dealer B&B Machinery in Toowoomba, who are now also responsible for the maintenance and service of the machines. Tom is full of praise for them: “The service is excellent and the team knows its Fendt products inside and out.” For this great service, Tom is happy to make the hour-long journey to his sales partner. “I would also like to go back to Germany and see the agriculture and farming equipment used there. I was in Germany with my parents when I was 8 years old and I liked it. I was really impressed with the Alps and how clean the whole place was,” laughs Tom. His parents have obviously passed on their passionate interest in European history and culture, as well as their love of agriculture, to their 8 children – maybe because of their European roots.