Deutz TTV 630 Tractor
Finding a big tractor with low fuel consumption is not an easy task, but this month, Jaiden Drought may have just struck gold.
Most contractors need to be nice to their accountants, since the nature of their business is high cash flow, high operating costs and depreciating assets, which are then replaced by more depreciating assets. Contractors are often targeted by the tax man, too, so it's definitely not the sort of business model that gets your accountant jumping out of bed in the morning.
However, I have some good news for you and your money-man. DLG (a German-based, independent machinery testing organisation) gave the Deutz TTV 630 tractor an excellent power-mix score. It found that the Deutz's fuel consumption was 9.4 percent lower than the average consumption of the last 50 tractors tested at the facility. The test was over 36 runs in seven different tests. Basically, this means lower costs for your business, plus your wife can go shopping while remaining under budget. Not only does this keep your wife happy, it keeps your accountant happy - two people who can potentially make your life very difficult.
With this kind of knowledge, I was keen to see how the Deutz performed in the paddock, so I headed along to see Damian Orchard, a local contractor situated between Hawera and Manaia in South Taranaki. Orchard built his business from scratch eight years ago. He likes these tractors so much he has two exactly the same, just for good measure. Alongside the two Deutz are three McCormicks. During the busy season, Orchard has nine staff and leases two additional tractors to keep up with the workload, covering a 50km radius from the home base.
For the test, the 630 was hooked up to a Joskin 11,000-litre slurry tanker with injector. The 220hp tractor was overkill for this particular machine but during the season, both the Deutzs run double mowers and are also used as stack machines to keep the self-propelled moving.
My first impression of the TTV is big! So much so it could comfortably slot into an advertisement for Mitre10 MEGA, because everything on it is BIG (who says advertising doesn't work?), from the staunch bonnet to the big grills and the fact you need your overnight pack for the journey up the five steps to the cab. Then there's the exhaust stack, which makes the tractor look like it could be turbine-powered. Very predominant are the large 540/65 R34 front tyres that are standard rear tyres on most 100hp tractors. All of this combined ensures the big Deutz strikes an imposing figure.
Engine and performance
Under the long, deep bonnet lies the big Deutz's power plant: a six-cylinder, four-valve turbo common rail engine, which the company designs and builds itself. The engine is equipped with EMC (Electronic Motor Control) in conjunction with DPC (Deutz Power Control). That is propeller-head jargon for the power boost, thanks to the common rail at up to 1600 bar through two injection pumps, giving you the power when you need it and therefore saving fuel.
A major bonus of this tractor, which I mentioned earlier, is the low fuel consumption, which DLG found and Orchard reiterated. This is helped by the 50kph top speed, reached at only 1850rpm, so road travel of up to an hour to jobs isn't a gas-guzzling bonanza for Orchard.
Like most other CVT transmissions, the Deutz has the ability to be infinitely variable from 0 to 50kph. However, it has four working ranges and three different driving modes, auto, manual and PTO, which I will expand on.
Automatic: This is the simplest way to drive, just jump in and go, with the computer adapting engine speed and gear setting to ensure the right speed for all load conditions, so really it's just like driving an automatic car. In the I-Monitor (no relation to the iPad, iPod or iPhone), the driver can programme the basic settings of automatic mode and determine the range within which the engine speed is varied depending on the task.
PTO mode: As soon as the PTO is switched on, you're in PTO mode, which results in the engine aiming for more constant revs, rather than solely focusing on economy. For jobs such as mowing, for example, where a 1000rpm must be held, the engine speed can be set or adjusted with the EMC button, so you simply pull into the paddock, turn on the PTO, hit the EMC and the tractor does the rest.
Manual mode: This was my preferred mode to drive in, where you determine the speed by either pushing forward or pulling back the joystick while the accelerator pedal solely controls the engine revs. The speed is shown on the small readout on the A pillar of the cab. By simply holding the joystick fully forward, 0 to 50kph is achieved, while the lowest speed is a super-slow 47m (metres, not miles!) per hour. I reckon my seven-month-old son could crawl further than that in an hour!
Two other safety features of the transmission worth mentioning are the Active Parking Control and the Automatic Park Brake. The Active Parking Control simply holds the tractor stationary when you take your foot off the accelerator, even on steep hills. The Automatic Parking Brake is operated either manually or by a timer, which automatically locks whenever the driver leaves the seat or the tractor is at a standstill for more than 30 seconds.
Linkage, hydraulics and PTO
Deutz claims a lifting force of 10 tonnes on the linkage which, if accurate, would be more than adequate for any of the heaviest linkage-mounted implements you could find. The external controls on the mudguard also offer linkage, PTO and one remote adjustment, which are handy when hitching heavy implements, such as 6m power harrows.
Load-sensing hydraulics offer flow rates of up to 160 litres per minute and up to seven electric remotes are available. This is a feature of the Deutz which I thought could be improved. Let me explain.
On the joystick you have two remotes with up and down buttons. These don't have a float function and you need to push the button twice for it to do what you want. The next two remotes are on the smaller joystick, also mounted on the armrest. These are proportional and do offer a float function. And finally, the last three remotes are found on crazy little dials on the right-hand dash. Admittedly, you wouldn't have a heap of implements that need more than four sets of remotes at once so it may not be a drama. You can adjust which remotes are on the joystick and the drive stick, as well as select the front linkage controls, but this involves delving into the monitor.
Both of Orchard's TTVs have integrated front linkage for the mowing and buck-raking tasks. The Sauter linkage has a lifting capacity of 4500kg and is set up to be operated from the proportional joystick mounted on the armrest. Visibility of the front linkage was marginal, given the size of the bonnet, although the short linkage arms help keep the weight close to the tractor.
The front PTO comes standard with just 1000rpm, while the rear PTO has four standard speeds, 540/1000 and a related economy setting, which again allows for reduced fuel consumption. In auto-mode, the PTO automatically switches off when the linkage is raised and engages again once the arms are lowered. The only gripe I have with the PTO is that it is bolted on, which makes changing the stubs more time-consuming than on a cir-clip design, for example.
The beauty of the Deutz's cab design is its colour-coded layout - every function has a specific colour. I found the cab very quiet and the air cab suspension and rocker arm front suspension makes for a very comfortable ride.
A benefit of the high-riding tractor is excellent visibility - hugely beneficial for just about all tasks, including spotting objects like sheep troughs in overgrown paddocks when mowing.
The armrest is where you'll find the majority of the tractor's gizmos, including time and volume controls of the electronic remotes, drivetrain management (ASM) and the electronic-injection control (EMC), hidden under the flip-up arm cushion.
The shuttle shift is a bit of an anomaly and requires you to choose either the separate buttons on the joystick or the left-hand lever and stick with it - a pain for jobs such as buck raking.
However, a big plus is the headland management system's ability to programme up to 16 functions and individual sequences. The operating sequences are selected in the Infocentre on the I-Monitor and reactivated by pushing the joystick sideways. The monitor is controlled by the 'multicontroller' on the right-hand console and can also be used to control ISOBUS-ready implements. A quirky in-built reverse camera is operating constantly so you can see the implement in real time, without having to turn around and check it's still there!
The thing I like most about the big Deutz is its ease of operation. Thanks to the colour-coded controls, this tractor is simple to use and uncomplicated - anyone can hop in and drive off. The only real issues are with the joystick and monitor, which I think could be improved with a little fine tuning. Overall, the comfortable, well laid-out cab and low fuel-consumption will attract many farmers, particularly contractors, to this tractor. With long hours and ever-increasing costs, comfort and fuel savings can make your life a whole lot easier.
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