Profile: Zero-Till Cropping

Profile: Zero-Till Cropping Profile: Zero-Till Cropping
Profile: Zero-Till Cropping Profile: Zero-Till Cropping

Altonbrook Farm has spent years establishing a zero-till system and use their new Fendt 927 VarioGrip tractor for he job

Stu Macaulay manages Altonbrook Farm, a 680-hectare property at Southbridge that grows a range of crops – wheat, barley, grass seed, clover, and peas – and runs 1700 ewes and grazes 900 head of calves.

Stu was instrumental in the purchase of the Fendt 927 tractor with the VarioGrip tyre pressure regulation system in December last year. It is the first Fendt the farm has owned, although Stu has run Fendts with other farmers and contractors he has worked for.

"We had a North American model before buying this Fendt. We priced another one of those as well as another popular brand," he says.

"The Fendt was the better option for us. We could do more with it, although we are not fully utilising all the technology at this point. We are fairly fussy about comparing like-for-like, and we found the Fendt slightly cheaper on a spec-for-spec basis.

"We got the tyre size option that we wanted and the steering package that was compatible with our Trimble GPS system."

Altonbrook Farm has been a zero-till operation for the past 12 years. They purchased the Fendt 927 when they updated their Cross Slot drill.

"We wanted the Trimble to run everything on the drill, as well as all the steering functions. The combination of the three machines is excellent and is exactly what we wanted. We don’t have to steer at the headland, we do GPS headland turns. It is all set up to potentially be autonomous one day."

Stu particularly likes the fuel efficiencies and savings they are achieving with the Fendt 927.

"We like the fuel efficiency and the ease at which it operates the drill. The previous tractor lacked the hydraulic capacity to correctly control the Cross Slot openers. After speaking to other Cross Slot owners, we realised the Fendt ticked all the boxes," he says.

"The new tractor is 265hp, and we have actually gone down 40hp from our previous tractor, which was 300hp. Changing the drill configuration allowed us to do that."

While Stu was not initially looking at the VarioGrip option, he quickly realised the bigger 900 super single tyres were the way to go rather than front and rear duals (which he previously had) or tracks.

The VarioGrip tyre pressure regulation system can quickly adapt the tyre pressure from 0.6 to 2.5 bar even while driving.

The VarioGrip system is fully integrated into the vehicle design. It offers up to 15% more tractive power and a fuel saving of up to 10%.

"We believe VarioGrip is a lot more versatile than tracks or dual wheels, as we can quickly adjust to the correct tyre pressure from field work to other applications. That way, we can look after our tyres," Stu says.

"For us, it’s the combination of lower tyre pressure allowing greater surface footprint and 50/50 weight distribution over the front and rear axles to maximise traction, while also maintaining the benefit of three-metre vehicle width and 50kph travel speed on the road. We would have had to compromise something if we went for dual wheels or tracks.

"Trying to get things spec’ed right from the start is the key. It took us three years to get to this point, as we did a lot of homework because it will be a 10- to 15-year investment. We need it to be future proofed as we evolve our farming operation."

Stu says the Fendt 927 is comfortable to drive, both in the field and on the road, thanks to its independent front axle suspension.

"The Vario transmission is the top of the range. Some people think it’s overly complicated but if you spend a few minutes explaining it to your drivers, it’s no more complicated than anything else. The Fendt 927 has met our expectations, and we have been very impressed with it, both myself and the owners of the business."

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