When farming in an area that can have up to 1.8m of rain annually, one of the challenges is ensuring the small window of opportunity for groundworks is done promptly.
Tweed Valley-based Citifarm, a sugar cane operation in Murwillumbah, NSW, needed to upgrade its tractors to more reliable and economical models to improve its operation costs.
Farm manager Dave Bartlett said Citifarm supplied the Condong sugar mill with 15 per cent of the sugar crushed there, and had the potential to produce 85,000 tonnes of sugar cane for it.
Mr Bartlett said after weighing up the options available, Citifarm chose Fendt for its reliability and it now operates four Fendt 822 S4 tractors and a 512 S4 model. Citiarm’s tractors pull 12-tonne capacity bins and Mr Bartlett said the Fendts were well equipped to handle the 23-tonne gross weight.
“We tried many brands of tractors for sugar cane haul-out, but could not find a tractor that would withstand the demands of this heavy work,” Mr Bartlett said. “Transmissions were being replaced after 5000 hours and it was not sustainable for the business.
“In the NSW industry there are many older 900 series Fendt tractors, which have 14,000-plus hours and they were still running as cane haul-out tractors on the original Vario transmission.
“We did the business case and found that even with the Fendt tractor having a higher initial purchase price, if reliability and fuel economy are accounted for, they are the most economical tractor to run.”
The Fendt tractors all run the Vario transmission, which has its own dedicated transmission oil, so there is no contamination risk from the implements connected into the hydraulic remotes on the tractor.
Fendt ANZ’s product manager Donny Cloney said this enhanced the longevity of the transmission and also benefited the servicing costs as it meant 2000 hours between hydraulic and transmission oil changes.
“To get the best performance from the engine in transport work, the engine needs to lug down to produce high torque,” Mr Cloney said.
“With the Automatic Load Control unique to Fendt tractors, the tractor is always working to ensure the operator is just setting the target speed. The transmission and the engine then work together to produce maximum efficiency, power and lively response, which is perfect for haul-out work.”
Mr Bartlett said he liked that Fendt tractors had no boost system.
“Maximum power is available at all times without the PTO being switched on or the tractor doing high speed transport work. The headland management and terminal functionality mean that drivers can keep the same level of work consistent from hour one to hour 12,” he said.
Mr Cloney said the 822 S4 also had a twin turbo engine, which meant it had a very flat torque curve through the engine range and could produce maximum torque at only 1450 RPM.
“This is also the engine RPM where the tractor will do 50km/h, so the engine performance is perfectly in sync with the Vario transmission to give the best performance.”
Mr Bartlett said he had recorded a 20 per cent decrease in fuel consumption on the haul-out tractors.
“Between the four 822 haul-out tractors, they have done 9000 hours combined and I have only had one issue with a faulty hydraulic oil tank level senso. I have been very impressed with the low running cost and the fact I can count on the Fendt to deliver in tight windows during harvest and planting.”
The Fendt 822 S4 is priced from $284,200 (+GST) and the 512 S4 from $169,990 (+GST). For more details, visit fendt.com/au