SAME Continuo 110
The dairy and beef operations that make up Boris and Velko Vinacs’ farm business in the Far North bring some various demands on the tractors that the brothers use across their four farms.
When it was time to replace their reliable but aging SAME Dorado, they were looking for a machine as capable of daily utility jobs as it was of performing some cultivation work on the Awanui properties. Boris was more than comfortable replacing the Dorado with another, but was convinced by Power Farming SAME sales manager Graeme Rogers to consider the new SAME Silver Continuo.
"We were to be the first people in the country to buy one and decided to go for it. Graeme convinced us that we would not be disappointed, and we definitely weren't," says Boris.
The Continuo 110 features the revolutionary variable transmission system, designed from the ground up in Italy by SAME Deutz Fahr. It was built to be paired specifically with the highly efficient Deutz engines that power the SAME range.
The transmission offers power delivery in a stepless gradient as ground speed rises, with infinite flexibility over engine speed and ground speed combinations.
Boris says he found the variable transmission "extremely easy" to adjust to after many years of manual clutch and accelerator work, and quickly found the real benefits that it offered in day to day loading work around the farm.
Three driving strategies are sourced through the transmission, and Automatic is as simple as driving a car. Electronic systems take care of engine speed and power delivery, eliminating any need for operator programming.
The second mode, the PTO mode comes into play when the PTO is activated, delivering constant PTO speed through all terrain and paddock contours.
A third manual mode reverts the throttle to a straight accelerator. Couple to the variable transmission sees the "Power Zero" function able to be utilised. This eliminates the need to use the braking system when stopping on slopes or under load. The PTO system is also proportionately engaged, ensuring the transmission is protected from load peaks, with four PTO speeds also on offer.
"We make a lot of large square bales and the Power Zero braking system does away with switching between brake and accelerator when loading – you just take your foot off the accelerator and the tractor stops and holds position, it's magic," he comments.
He also appreciates the system when moving awkward implements through narrow gateways, being able to gently ease through the access without jerking between throttle and brakes during the manoeuvre.
The transmission on the Continuo offers two ranges, a Heavy Duty and Normal option, allowing the tractor to adapt to maximum efficiency and economy across conditions and implements. Heavy duty sees ground speeds capable of being as low as .2kph to 24kph, and Normal up to 40kph.
Boris finds the Continuo's PTO system easy to use, and highly efficient: "You use the hand throttle to set the speed and the foot throttle to take off. If you strike a rough patch you can ease the foot throttle off and it still holds its PTO speed, there is no need to cut the powershift down or make any other adjustments," he says, adding that he finds it well suited to the 3m power harrow and 3m spike rotor they use for cultivation work.
The four-cylinder Deutz power plant proved how economic it was over summer when the brothers were mowing hay and capitalising on the season's exceptional growing conditions.
"One day we mowed eight paddocks. We were going up to 15kph with a 2.8m mower. The SAME returned an average fuel consumption of nine litres an hour, significantly better than the competitor's tractor we were using the same day," says Boris.
Boris says he appreciates the ability of the Continuo to run on 100 percent biodiesel and his only regret is the fuel is not available widely in Northland.
"It is a pity because having that ability is a big plus as we see how fuel prices are going these days," he remarks.
The efficiency of the Deutz engines powering SAME tractors has become a key feature as fuel prices creep up and is attributed to some smart design features. These include shorter fuel lines to reduce travel and fuel friction and the ability to deliver high torque from low engine speeds. Coupled with the Power Zero function, this sees the Continuo provide smooth take off regardless of load or slope.
The Continuo also features a compact, farm friendly profile with a footprint that makes it capable of operating in tight spaces, also aided by its tight 3.55m turning circle.
Good visibility and turning circle mean once coupled to the Trima loader makes the Continuo is an excellent loading machine.
"The bucket design is very, very well done – often you will find there is a quantity of dirt you simply can’t pick up, with the Trima it gets the lot, it is the best loader we have ever had. The electronic control is very sensitive and easy to use through the joystick, we were the first in the country to have that set up."
He praises a hydraulic system that rivals those of larger machines, with two values being fully programmable for flow rate. The system also delivers energy savings of up to 2kW, thanks to flow sensing solenoid values determining whether hydraulic oil flow is required, and diverting unneeded oil back into the transmission, ensuring greater efficiency.
Boris has found the cab design and layout of the Continuo a relaxing, welcoming office space for remaining productive and alert on longer days cultivating. With its positioning slightly forward of the rear axle, visibility is improved over a shortened bonnet, and the rear view of the draw bar is more comfortable than on many brands.
"Getting in and out is good, a nice wide entry way, and the visibility all around is excellent," he adds. SAME's ongoing commitment to noise reduction and operator comfort continues, with the noise levels averaging under 75dB.
With a full year's work behind it and 500 hours on the clock, Boris says the Continuo's performance has been faultless, and servicing from Bryant Tractors in Whangarei exemplary.
"We would definitely consider looking at another once our Fergie has clocked up 1800 hours," Boris adds.
Graeme Rogers of SAME says the Continuo with variable transmission offers pastoral farmers like Boris the opportunity to enjoy a transmission often more likely to be found in specialist cropping tractors.
"In day to day utility use the Continuo is extremely flexible. The transmission is ideal for the repetitive tasks you get on dairy operations like feed loading , which otherwise require a lot of clutch and brake work – the variable transmission ensures a smooth transition between directions and speeds," he concludes.