Review: Merlo TF35.7-115

The Merlo TF35.7-115 is popular for farming and loading applications, backed by a strong history of innovation

Photo 2-04-23, 1 45 33 PM.jpg

I think it would be fair to say the construction industry was originally the telehandler’s niche. Designed and suited for safely lifting heavy loads to heights, while offering manoeuvrability and the ability to handle off-road terrain, the telehandler saved the need for multiple machines on site with its ability to handle a variety of tasks.

Cottoning on to the idea of such a capable loading machine with the ability to operate a wide variety of attachments, which a tractor and loader simply can’t match for efficiencies, farmers have also benefitted from the versatility the trusty telehandler offers.

While tractors have undoubtedly been rapidly advancing in terms of technology and innovation, it has appeared that for some years, telehandlers have remained relatively basic by contrast in terms of spec and functionality, staying true to their roots as simple construction machines.

With a 6.6m reach, the Merlo TF35.7-115 is the ultimate multi-tasker

However, the Merlo Turbofarmer family sees the telehandler step out of the dark ages into the light, embracing the positives technology can offer and making loading tasks a breeze.
The Merlo TF35.7-115 (TF standing for Turbofarmer) offers a maximum lift capacity of 3500kg, a maximum lift height of 6.6 metres, and a 155hp engine (85kW). 

Test time 

Having the opportunity to check out the Merlo machines in action, both in the Waikato as well as in the deep south, I caught up with Mr Merlo himself – Ken Bill from Power Farming, who knows these machines inside out.

The Merlo TF35.7 is a popular choice when it comes to everyday farming and other loading applications

Thanks to Ken’s knowledgeable guidance, I now have a solid handle on the functionality and features of the Merlo TF35.7 and why this particular machine is such a popular choice when it comes to everyday farming and other loading applications.

Much of this is down to the amount of control afforded through the hydraulic system, offering seamless performance and precision.

Proven performer

Based in the Waikato, Geoff and Lee Irwin are using their Merlo for daily tasks on their busy dairy farm. With a herd of 350 autumn calving cows, the Merlo is used daily to load the Keenan feed wagon, playing a vital role in ensuring livestock health, as well as being used for other tasks when needed.

Road lighting comes as part of the standard feature inclusions

With almost seven metres of boom reach, loading the largest mixer wagons or stacking bales presents absolutely no problems. For silage, the boom suspension makes collecting bales a less tiresome chore when it comes to gathering bales around the paddock.

A key feature is the auto shut-off of the suspension at low speed (three kilometres per hour). This comes into play when delicately placing bales, reducing the chances of tearing bale wrap.

Southern workhorse

The Merlo we took a look at in the South Island has found a home working for a recycling business. Here it does a lot of work with the forks shifting skip bins among other things. The scales (which are spec’d as standard) help make sure trucks are not being overloaded, potentially a costly mistake. The Merlo also loads spreaders with composted waste, which is collected to spread back onto pasture/crop ground to add nutrients.

Easy visual check of hydraulic oil levels

Using genuine Merlo attachments with RFID, the machine ‘understands’ what you’re trying to do, therefore, not triggering sensors that would otherwise have been triggered, which would potentially slow down the efficiency of the job.


Like most Merlo models, a Deutz engine is used to get the job done. For the New Zealand market, this machine is available as a Tier 3 with no AdBlue, which will please many farmers. The maximum horsepower for this model is 115hp producing 86kW. As a dedicated loading machine, I would say that’s plenty enough for most applications. However, there are larger models within the Merlo range if you require greater lift capacity, hydraulic speed, etc.

Eco features allow max speed (40km per hour) to be reached at lower rpm. The Eco Power Drive (EPD) is an electronic engine control system, reducing fuel usage by 18% and helping keep daily running costs down. This is vitally important to operators today, as margins continue getting tighter and any fuel saved is going to help the bottom line.

Powered by a 115hp Deutz engine

The EPD also helps save fuel by increasing revs on demand as hydraulic function requires, such as when raising the boom, then automatically decreasing again (similar to the system excavators have run for some time). 


With this model of the Turbofarmer, Merlo has stuck with the proven hydrostatic transmission that has served the brand well over time. A key feature of this design is the ease of use. This is a two-range transmission: low for work tasks, high for transport applications.

In my experience, the Merlo is the most complete package of the telehandlers I’ve driven. Being able to set revs to give efficient operating speeds for hydraulic function while controlling forward speed with the foot pedal is a great asset for the operator. The EPD adjusts revs automatically whether needed for hydraulic boom function or transport.

The diesel tank is mounted low with a fill point in front of the cab

Along with this, you have the Merlo 3 pedal system. This delivers standard accelerator and brake and an extra one on the left, called an inching pedal. This allows the precision to do delicate work smoothly, such as stacking pallets/bales. In basic terms, it works like a clutch but provides braking to the transmission rather than the wheels, when fully depressed.

Dual hydraulic pumps are used, one for drive and one for hydraulic function, resting the drive while loading and vice versa. With the dual hydraulic pumps, they also have separate oils to save contamination, along with separate cooling packs for each. The fan is reversible even with revs on, as it has its own hydraulic pumps. This is great to clear the filter screens when working with dusty materials and confined conditions.

Operator environment 

Cabs have felt like they have been the last thought on telehandlers in the past. This is no longer the case with the latest Merlo Turbofarmer models. Delivering good head height, plenty of leg room, and the ability to adjust the seating position forward and rear to
suit, along with tilt adjustment of the steering position maximises operator comfort.

At over 1m wide, the cab is roomy (by telehandler standards)

The cab width of over a meter is generous in telehandler terms. The roof is curved glass with front and roof wipers to ensure a clear view of loads and attachments through the full lift range, with the cab protection outside designed on an angle to minimise obstruction
of sight.

In terms of comfort, the Merlo certainly scores well: tick for the pneumatic seat and another tick for the quality air-conditioning unit, with an easily cleaned cab filter – all in a pressurised cab to help keep the dust out. There is still a split door, allowing you to latch the top half back. In the past, this is usually done when the goldfish-type environment gets too hot in those relentless summer months.

The display screen doubles as a camera view when reverse is selected

The ASCS 10-inch screen, which operates as a screen for the camera when in reverse, helps minimise any blind spots for additional operating safety. Operation of the screen functionality, which is with the push and turn dial, works well once you get used to it. Being able to set specific lift parameters comes in handy, particularly when working within sheds.
It means you can set the limit at 2.5 metres if, for example, the shed was three metres tall, so prevents any potential accidental damage by the boom.

The joystick with auto lock is another safety feature I like; without a good grasp of the (Merlo designed Captive Multi-Function) joystick, it won’t move if just bumped. 


Telehandlers have always been able to run circles around tractor/loader combinations. The Merlo TF35.7 takes things to a whole different level in terms of functionality and comfort, while operating safely. Being able to spend some time behind the wheel, I’ve experienced first-hand how these machines can make a significant difference in getting the job done efficiently and with ease.

All the Deutz-powered models are available with boom suspension and cabin suspension as options.

Merlo TF35.7-115 Specifications


Tier 3

Maximum lifting height

Maximum capacity 3.5kg
Speed 40km/h
Hydraulic system LS+FS
Width 2240mm
Height 2250mm
Length 4335mm

Find new and used farm machinery for sale in NZ

Photography: Mark Fouhy

Previous ArticleNext Article
Send this to a friend