Story by Ken Wilson Farm Weekly
YOU could say it’s a Back to the Future moment in agriculture.
When tractors first came on the scene, they quickly became the year-round workhorse, inevitably sporting a front-end loader and a rear-hitch for a range of farms tasks.
Roll on 60 or 70 years and year-round tractors are back on the agenda.
For a variety of reasons – including switching to controlled traffic farming and reducing the seeding bar width to 12.2 metres – medium-powered tractors are gaining a lot more appeal.
They’ve got grunt, they’re fuel efficient, they’re quicker on the roads and they’re got all the bells and whistles (if you want all the options).
But one reason stood out above the rest during recent demonstrations by Boekeman Machinery of the latest JCB Fastrac 8330 model.
“Ride quality,” said Boekeman Machinery Dalwallinu branch manager James Mitchell.
“It was by the far the most quoted by guys who drove it.
“A lot of guys were genuinely surprised how comfortable it was to operate particularly with the multi-link suspension (fitted front and rear).
“It has a new feature, called Rapid Steer, which reduces lock-to-lock turns from four to two and helps in faster headland turns.
“We set it up as a chase tractor towing a 32 tonne Nyrex chaser bin and we got some really great feedback on its performance.
“There already is good inquiry, so I’m confident we’ll do some good business in 2019.
“It ticks all the boxes as a great utility tractor.”
Mr Mitchell said the 8330 came standard with a three-year or 3000 hour bumper to bumper warranty and the option to install a John Deere electro-over-hydraulic steering kit for guidance.
“You can order it with three metre centres,” he said.
The Fastrac 8330’s clever configuration is based around the now traditional four-wheel suspension and high on-road speeds unveiled in 1990.
Features include ABS braking, a new fail-safe hydraulic steering system and a 14 per cent power increase over the earlier 8310 model.
While the 8330 has an engine rating of 243 kilowatts (330 horsepower), power rises to 255kW (348hp) under full load and offers a 10pc torque increase to 1440Nm over the earlier model.
The CVT transmission incorporates a clutch and emergency steering pump and a wide selection of control modes.
High range for road use offers four modes, while low range for paddock work and speeds to 40 kilometres an hour offers seven modes, including three for cruise control.
The operator can choose the mode to set optimum engine and transmission settings for power and economy, as well as constant settings for PTO or road speeds.
The system can operate automatically for seamless step changes or manually to emulate a powershift drive.
This feature is unique and attractive to operators with limited experience with stepless transmissions.
Active traction maintains wheel grip during heavy load work and engine torque is manipulated to maintain traction and ensure stability and maximise fuel efficiency.
The unit is powered by a six cylinder Sisu 8.4 litre twin turbo, Tier 4 final engine with SCR and a DEF system cleverly hidden in the exhaust system that sits out of sight behind the cabin’s rear pillar.
JCB Landpower general manager Max Jeffery said the 8330 mid-mounted cabin – the same as recently launched on the new 4000 Series Fastrac – offered improved working visibility and 3.5 cubic metres volume allowing room for a full size training seat and fridge.
The driving seat has a 70 degree rotation – 20o left and 50o to the right for easy implement viewing.
The machine also features a new patented hydraulic steering system that allows 70km/h on-road travel or low speed paddock work and replaces the previous mechanical linkage design.
The dual hydrostatic steering meets safety needs for high-speed on-road travel and reduces driver effort.
Pressure and flow between both hydraulic systems is monitored and if a hose failure occurs, the flow is instantly switched to maintain control.
“This 8330 also provides significantly more power than the outgoing model and as much as 10pc more torque than its predecessor,” Mr Jeffrey said.
The new power has been coupled to a CVT transmission and front and rear axles have been upgraded to make it factory capable of running a 3m track for controlled traffic.
The optional front hitch system features a 3.5t load and twin hydraulic couplings and the rear hitch 10t and four spools.
A 137 litre a minute variable displacement pump delivers 100L/min per spool flow and there’s an optional 178L/min pump delivering 140L/m per spool.
The rear hitch is fully integrated into the rear axle to maximise load carrying and stability for higher in-field speeds
“The absolute split of weight distribution from front to rear makes it very different to conventional tractors and the result is a machine that will do all the jobs a conventional tractor will do, but also a whole load of jobs a conventional can’t,” Mr Jeffrey said.
“The weight balance more often than not means the Fastrac does not have to carry front weights to offset implements.”