John Deere 6530 & 6230 tractors

By: Terry Stevenson

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Wouldn’t it be great to have a choice of which tractor you take out to tackle a big job? George Peake and his two sons operate a pair of the latest 30 Series John Deere tractors of quite different specifications to make the most of their 150ha Ohaupo dairy farm.

John Deere 6530 & 6230 tractors
John Deere 6530 & 6230 tractors

Their 14-month old John Deere 6530 Premium and four-month old John Deere 6230 ROPS tractors work nicely together on some challenging terrain.

Sons Carey and Wayne also work on the farm, although George remains an active daily worker, milking 400 cows through a 44-bale rotary shed.

Carey Peake says their herd isn’t in as good condition as normal due to the dry spell and wet winter earlier in the year. Like many farmers, last winter they went through all of their maize and silage, with nothing to spare.

Every NZ farm has its issues, and the Peakes’ dairy farm is no different. Only 30 years ago, a good part of their farm formed part of the southern end of the Rukuhia swamp before being cleared during the 1970s. Every 10 years or so, the cold winter peat pushes up the old swamp tree stumps to ground level. This is especially bad after last season’s hot spell, which also sunk the paddocks slightly.

The stumps are a hazard for animals, vehicles and people. Looking around the farm, I could see the magnitude of the problem in a nearby paddock, which will shortly have its rising tree stumps ground down in-soil by a tracked vehicle contractor.

The only other option is to bring in an excavator to dig up the entire paddock and pull out each stump. The huge piles of rotten tree stumps are then left for at least three years before burning during a dry winter’s day.

One paddock was recently dug by an excavator, and both George and Carey demonstrated the ruggedness of their 6530 and 6230 tractors by driving them on what can be best described as extremely rough, uneven terrain littered with small areas of soft, wet ground. Just large enough for an entire front or rear wheel to be lost in.

The 4290kg 6230 ROPS was purchased as the general farm tractor for activities like spraying, although the winter period is when the 6230 is used most – feeding out. The 95hp 6230 replaced a well used 11,000-hour dry clutch 90hp 2140. The Peakes like the smaller of their two John Deeres because it is easier to jump on and use, and they also enjoy the forward reverse shuttle during loading.

Carey explains, "It was bought to do a lot of the grunt work. It is like the pocket knife of the two tractors really! With a front-end loader on it is just awesome for loading the maize. We use it for the feedout wagon as well."

A lot of work goes into the ‘stumping paddocks’, with pallet forks fitted to pick up the smaller-sized pieces of swamp timber.

"At this time of the year we are using both of them quite a lot, getting the crops really and with harvesting not too far away."

There is stacks of room on this tractor in ROPS configuration and all the controls were in the right places, as expected. However the accelerator pedal was right next to the brake pedal, so I found I put my foot on the edge of the brake pedal a few times. I think the accelerator is in the right position, so I felt the clutch lever could be more central.

The steering lock wasn’t too bad, and the tractor certainly handled the rough stuff in the swamp paddock pretty well.

Overall the engine has a reasonable amount of power, about what I expect for a 95hp tractor. The 6230 is powered by a four-cylinder 4.5-litre John Deere turbocharged Euro III engine featuring common rail injection. I went up a small hill in third gear and later found quite a gap between third and fourth gears, which is probably just for use on the road. In third gear at 1800rpm, the 6230 went up the hill pretty easy, at 1500rpm, it dropped only a couple of hundred revs while maintaining its momentum.

I had more issue with the transmission, which is not the best I have used. Changing up through the four gears (plus four ranges) on the wet clutch 6230 was pretty easy but changing down was much more difficult, particularly in the last couple of gears, where I couldn’t change down without stopping. I’ll point out this is not the only tractor I’ve driven with this problem. Interestingly, I found it easier to change up the gears with a load on – at the least, the linkages needed some lubricant to make it easier.

I wasn’t so sure about the brakes to start with, but after I became familiar with them, the brakes were actually quite good. Mostly because I had to depress the pedal a fair way before the brakes came into play, but when they did, there was certainly plenty of power to stop the tractor at speed on a wet downhill.

The 120hp 6530 Premium replaced a 105hp John Deere 6600 and when you read this, it will already have come into its own this season cutting the grass silage and preparing the next stump paddock by working the ground with 2.5m ‘Chilli’ cultivation spikes, used to help work up the stumps. As you can imagine, levelling the paddocks off with a blade after stump removal requires a tough tractor, and the 5080kg 6530 fits the bill nicely.

The JD PowerTech engine is stacked with power enhancing features, such as an intercooled variable geometry turbocharger with cooled gas recirculation to externally cool incoming air, along with four valves per cylinder and common rail fuel injection to produce up to 504Nm of torque.

Going up the same hill in ‘C’, the third gear (of six lettered ratios), was pretty easy on the engine, dropping only a hundred revs until the electronics figured there was a load on, and then picked up the rpm and ground speed again. So that worked really well to be able to feel it kick in.

Anywhere above third in the transmission was pretty easy changing up. Changing down was acceptable, but anything from third down was very tight for a one-year old tractor. Changing up was better, although none of this was helped by the spring on the clutch, which I could feel and hear take up as I used the clutch. The four-way split shift, however, offered very seamless changing up or down at all times.

The shuttle had a bit of a delay then slight surge going forwards, and was pretty immediate going backwards. All of which is adjustable, as is everything else on the CommandCenter keypad.

The cab on the 6530 is remarkably quiet, one of the best I’ve been in. Visibility from inside the cab was great and looking back was made easier with a small rear vision mirror. The rear vision mirrors were a good, practical size. This model has an interesting flat panel dash layout fitted up against the steering wheel but with nothing behind it. There is space to put things in a couple of overhead compartments and more good space on the left corner to put your lunch or manuals.

George is pretty happy with the comforts of the cab 6530.

"It is a nice tractor to drive, and it is comfortable. You can almost walk out of the kitchen and hop in the tractor, at night time you hop back out and put your slippers on again virtually!" George says. "We are also pretty happy with the service from Walsh Motors, they have always been honest and up front with us when we’ve talked about anything."

Please note there are many great features from both tractors not mentioned this month due to limited space.

The Peakes’ two John Deere tractors go hand in hand and are right at the forefront of modern farm improvement, with a lot of farm development work still to do.

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