Test: Case IH Optum 300 AFS Connect

The new Optum 300 AFS Connect is upping the game for those looking for a powerful and highly manoeuvrable tractor with excellent power-to-weight ratio

Distinctive Case IH Optum styling now used across the range of larger horsepower Case IH tractors

First seen on our shores in 2016, the Optum brought a bold new, dynamic look to the Case IH line-up, which the Magnum, Maxxum, and Puma have now also adopted. The newest model Optum have had a further refresh, continuing to build on the reputation gathered over the years, with a whole new cab design, including updated technology and creature comforts for complete ease of use.

Test time

This month’s test machine is one of the latest tractor additions to the fleet of Waikato contractor Bluegrass Contracting. From their home base in Te Poi, near Matamata, Bluegrass Contracting covers a large area of the central North Island.

In the quiet period through winter, they still have a full-time staff of 12, with trucking and maintenance to be done, ready for when the busy spring period arrives. Then many more seasonal staff come on board to help harvest some 9000 hectares of feed, bulk silage (forager and loader wagon), baleage, hay, and maize, along with cultivation and planting winter and summer crops.

Discing, planting, mowing, and buck raking: all tasks this new machine will take care of in the coming season

Running a largely Case IH Puma fleet, Bluegrass Contracting was one of the first in the country to add Optum tractors to its line-up and our test machine is now number seven Optum in the fleet. A key feature of the Optum, which has made it such an instant hit is its versatility and flexibility. With a wheelbase just under three metres (2.995 metres), max permissible total weight of 16,000kg, and from 270hp up to 340hp (available shortly), you can see why the Case IH Optum fits so well within a contractor’s fleet, delivering power, comfort, and power-to-weight ratio to take on a wide range of tasks.

To see the machine in action, we caught up with Conor Gilleece, a full-time operator with Bluegrass Contracting on the latest Optum in the fleet, out working near Tokoroa. The tractor was hooked up to 4.5-metre discs for primary cultivation of winter crop paddocks to go back into grass for spring. Although the rolling paddock wasn’t perfect — not unusual
for contractors — the Case IH Optum made short work of the job.

Pulling up the hill, you appreciate the wide tyres for traction, and with 300hp available (as stated on the bonnet) heading downhill, you would hardly know the tractor was running; the new cab is incredibly quiet by tractor standards.

For the coming spring, a key role for this tractor is running a Väderstad maize planter, making use of the auto steer and ISOBUS implement control, with auto row shut off, ideal for precision planting. Other tasks for the Case IH Optum will include running triple mowers and, at times, working on the silage pit stacking with a buck rake — both jobs where the reversible fan option will be a huge benefit.

Cab comfort

Although on the exterior there are only a few visible design changes noticeable, the new steps to the cab are a clue as to what to expect when you climb in, where the interior changes and improvements are obvious. If you want car-like comfort with a high-end quality finish, the latest Case IH Optum cab ticks all the boxes.

Having originally inherited some key design features from the rest of the Case IH line-up, the Optum is one of the first to be rolled out with the whole new cab. Finished with red leather seats, beige highlights and panels, and carpeted floor, there’s also the choice of an optional cloth cab. Cooled seating on a hot day will go down well with operators, along
with the heated seat for those extra chilly winter days.

Redesigned storage includes fridge under training seat

In redesigning the cab, Case IH has made use of the space underneath the passenger seat to put a well-placed and sizeable fridge/cooler. The back left corner is now a covered storage compartment with both USB and three-pin 230/240-volt sockets, which is certainly handy.

Along with the aircon package, the design of the cab (and engine) has in-cab operating noise at a market-leading 66dB(A), ensuring you can concentrate on your latest TED Talk podcast through the Bluetooth audio system.

The brand-new Multicontroller armrest, new 12-inch AFS PRO 1200 monitor, encoder navigation dial, and A-pillar display are all the things that make long hours in the tractor easier. The new colour A-pillar display gives a basic overview of important tractor data at a glance, without obstructing the view.

All-new armrest, Multicontroller, and joystick

On the Multicontroller armrest, colour coding is used: yellow for PTO and orange for engine/transmission functions, and there’s a new ergonomic joystick with forward reverse. The new 12-inch monitor includes touch control, along with an encoder knob to navigate, allowing operation across rough ground on the go. Another feature of the PRO 1200 screen
is the camera display, with front and rear cameras fitted for easy connection of implements, and external view to the rear or over the bonnet.


The Case IH Optum range of tractors has stuck with the proven 6.7-litre FPT engine, designed to suit field or transport applications equally. In the field, the Optum 300 delivers 1282Nm of torque from a low 1400rpm, while on the road, a max travel speed of 50km/hour is possible at 1600rpm, both helping keep overall fuel consumption down.

Bluegrass Contracting runs a number of Case IH Optums from its Waikato base

The electronic variable geometry turbocharger electronically adjusts depending on load/engine speed to give optimal combustion and greater torque. As you would expect, the latest Optum complies with Euro Stage V emissions standards. To achieve this, they run an exhaust gas treatment system (96-litre AdBlue tank) but no diesel particulate filter. With a 630-litre fuel tank, you should have plenty to get through the biggest days.

Our test machine from Bluegrass Contracting was optioned with the reversible eco-fan to help keep radiators clear when on mowing and buck raking duties. FPT was right up there with a 600-hour service interval on the engines, and with the latest machines, this is extended out 25% to 750 hours, almost a year’s work for most tractors.

The other notable feature of the engine is the addition of a new power variant, maintaining the 270/300hp models and adding a 340hp model (available to order). Keeping everything else the same in terms of frame size, etc., having the extra horsepower as an option for high-demand implements and applications will tick the boxes for some contractors for sure.


For years, Case IH has used a CVT transmission, as offered in the Optum range. There are four mechanical drive ranges using a synchroniser for ranges 1 and 2, and 3 and 4, and a double clutch system to give continuously variable transmission from 0 to 50km/hour.
Another handy feature is the active hold control on hills, allowing you to stop on a hill and have the transmission hold the tractor without brakes until you want to move off forwards/reverse. Updated software is probably the biggest change in the transmission over the previous model. Drivers can choose between three different settings: acceleration, shuttling speed, and drive pedal behaviour.

Upgraded 360-degree, full LED lighting package

Through the AFS PRO 1200 display, you can use pre-defined factory settings or customise them to suit the driver or job at hand. When it comes to brakes, the Optum has an exhaust brake, standard with hydraulic and air brakes to aid safety in roading and hauling heavy implements.


With an impressive 220 litres per minute flow rate to up to five electro-hydraulic remote valves at the rear and three mid-mounted remotes, new Bosch valve couplings with auto close covers and levers allow coupling of implements under pressure, saving frustration and time.

New pillar display for key tractor info

In-cab is where there has been a significant change. With the upgrade in technology, you now have the option to assign colour-coded remotes (levers change colour to match remote valve when reassigned remotes to different fingertip controls), or alternatively, program onto the Multicontroller using hotkeys. This keeps everything truly in hand and ensures operation is as easy as possible. The rear linkage lift capacity is rated at 10,305kg while the front lift is 6016kg, more than enough for the largest front fert or spray tanks.


Optional rear wheel weights for extra traction

As you would expect with a high spec/horsepower tractor, there’s a four-speed PTO at the rear, with standard and eco modes. The front has two speeds with 1000 and 1000 eco. Eco achieves 540 or 1000 PTO speeds at 1600rpm, significantly lowering fuel consumption. Soft start protects drivelines and gearboxes on implements. Making the most of headland management, you can set start-stop parameters to operate with optimal efficiency.

Ride quality and handling

The comfort of a tractor rates highly in my book, and even across rough crop ground, the Case IH Optum handled the task extremely well. With 110mm of travel on the front axle suspension, this works in both directions for optimal comfort and safety, both on the road and in the paddock. The turning radius of 7.7 metres is very good for a tractor of this size.

Tyres are available in a variety of sizes, depending on the application. Options range from 600/70 R30 fronts and 710/70 R42 (standard on 270). Bluegrass Contracting’s latest Optum 300 is running 900 rear tyres with wheel weights. Further tyre optimal running can be achieved with optional factory-fitted tyre inflations to adjust pressures to suit field or road work. This is run through the AFS PRO 1200 Monitor.

AFS Connect

Not brand new, but certainly a feature that will be made more use of as time goes by and understanding of its capabilities is fully realised. AFS Connect Optum comes with three years AFS connection. I suspect that after that time, you will probably find you can’t live without it, much like auto steer. The use of this data and information will become crucial as the demand increases for mandatory reporting of inputs and fertiliser use, proving vital for individual farmers doing their own work as well as contractors.

Optional rear wheel weights for extra traction

The system can take the information from ISOBUS implements to provide this. Some of the features include mapping for locations and updates of data of jobs completed, which for contracting could be used for efficient account management.

Direct connection to the dealer can identify fault codes and help plan servicing, decreasing downtime. If you have a mixed fleet of machines to manage, Case IH will work in partnership with Class, John Deere, as well as New Holland.


Case IH has always had a good product line-up of tractors. Once again, the Optum has moved to the top. In the past, the simple operator platform shared across the larger horsepower range provided familiarity and ease of driver training. However, it has been a little while since it has been updated, and I think they have done a great job on the full revamp of the cab. In terms of functionality, the new Optum AFS Connect is now right up there with the best of them.

Turning over winter crop ground for spring planting

A couple of key points for me are the new Multicontroller and the hotkeys, which can have different functions assigned to them from the (also new) AFS PRO 1200 monitor. Comfort-wise, there will be few left unimpressed. I’d be happy to work year-round in this cab comfort and with all of the ease the technology provides for the operator.

Top features

  • All new quiet cab
  • Great ride, tyre packages to suit
  • AFS Connect providing all tractor/fleet information
  • 7m turning radius on a wheelbase just short of 3m (standard tyres)
  • Quality build using quality components, such as the new hydraulic couplers
  • Leather and carpet in the cab make a comfortable working environment

Case IH Optum 300 AFS Connect Specifications

Engine FPT 6-cylinder, common rail diesel, 24 valves, eVGT single turbocharger
Emissions Stage V 
Rated power


Max Torque 1282Nm @1400rpm
Transmission  CVT drive
Speed  0–50km/hr with eco mode


 Cat III
Rear lift capacity 10,305kg
Front lift capacity 6016kg
Steering angle  55 degrees
Min turning radius 7.7m
Max hydraulic 220L/min
Fuel tank 630L
AdBlue 96L
Height 3347mm
Width Min 2536mm
Max 2993mm
Wheelbase  2995mm
Max length  5825mm

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Photography: Mark Fouhy

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