Test: Agrolux HRWT 5875 plough
Our self-confessed ploughing perfectionist Jaiden Drought puts the Agrolux plough to the test, and finds it meets his exacting demands for excellence.
In my mind ploughing is one of those jobs where you get out what you put in. What I mean by this is the people who are passionate about doing a good job – turning the sod over and having straight furrows with perfect headlands – are the people who like to plough.
I am not one of these people. I mean, I do like having things looking nice because I'm a perfectionist when it comes to that sort of thing, but ploughing is a little mind numbing for me.
As the number of overseas workers has steadily increased in recent years, a major benefit for employers is (generally) these guys are mad keen on ploughing. Why?
Without wanting to generalise, maybe because their countries are 'old' compared to New Zealand? They've been doing it since the plough was invented and they can measure their top soil in feet.
Now I'd say I would fit the demographic of the average Kiwi tractor driver with the attitude that it sounds good in theory to drive the plough for the season, but when you have to do it day and night for the best part of six weeks straight, it can become a tad repetitive.
Luckily I recently met up with some top Cantabrians this month, who were partial to a good plough. Given Bill Lowe has been doing it for nearly five decades, believe me when I say he knows a thing or two about the plough. And more importantly, what makes a good one.
This brings me to the Agrolux they recently purchased off Farm Chief (along with the Roll Mot we tested last month).
Bill Lowe and his son William are not the sort of people who get sold things they don't want, so the fact the Agrolux and the roller are even on the farm is credit to the machine before I have even laid eyes on them.
The particular machine we'll be focusing on is the Agrolux HRWT 5875 which, in layman terms, is a five furrow reversible plough with auto reset and hydraulic vari-width for tractors up to 200hp. It features a heavy duty headstock with a 150mm pivot shaft and is a very smooth plough to turn over as a result.
Not having tested an Agrolux piece of machinery before it's good to get some background on the company. Agrolux has a long heritage in plough manufacture. The company originated from the absorption of the Fiskars plough business into the Electrolux Company over 25 years ago.
Owned by the Kongskilde Group, Agrolux now manufactures a wide range of ploughs in Sweden from on-land to mounted and conventional to reversible, where they use low weight, high grade heat-treated Swedish steel for hard wearing components.
Bill and William did some research and found this to be very good quality steel before they bought the machine. Given that it's the same grade as they use to build truck chassis and bridges, it ticked all the boxes for them.
The Agrolux point design comes from the original Fiskars plough which Bill was very impressed with when he first came across one at a ploughing championship back in 1968.
Like any machine, if you want it to work consistently at its peak capacity it needs to be set up right. One of the key characteristics of the Agrolux plough is just how easy it is to set up correctly.
'Easy Set' automatically adjusts the alignment of the plough as you adjust the front furrow width and alignment using separate spindles. The system is designed as a parallelogram, where the geometry is calculated in order to adjust the alignment accurately once the basic setting of the plough is correct.
The initial set up or adjustment happens in five steps:
- Vertical adjustment
- Horizontal adjustment (both lower and top links)
- Front Furrow width (adjust the draw line, adjust the front furrow width)
- Ploughing depth (Set via stoppers on the rear depth wheel)
- Vertical adjustment on opposite side of the plough
The key to a successful plough job is to have things set correctly to start with, as this ensures that it moves freely in the soil using as little diesel as possible. Remember that the precise alignment of all furrows will significantly reduce wear.
After the set-up has been achieved, don't fiddle with it. If you want to fiddle with something, do one thing at a time and little adjustments each time.
Hydraulic auto reset
A gas accumulator is used for the auto reset on the Agrolux plough, which has a very clever system where you can individually set each leg's auto reset to suit individual's preference.
For example, you might want to set the leading furrow slightly stronger than the others so it can penetrate hard soil. This is completed using another small hose with a gauge, which you can then plug into a remote on the tractor to either increase or decrease pressure in the accumulator.
This system in combination with the plough's geometry allows for a high trip height which comes in handy for the Lowes', who plough some tough hard clay soil under contract for cliients wintering cows (if the soil gets too dry it breaks into fair-sized concrete-like clumps, so the auto reset is key as you would need shear bolts by the box load).
Agrolux ploughs are available with mechanical and hydraulic furrow width adjustment. As mentioned earlier, this particular machine was fitted with hydraulic furrow width adjustment. I think you'll find that's the technical term for it, but the main point is you can vary the furrow width from the tractor cab while ploughing, making uneven paddocks and headlands stress free for the perfectionist.
You don't need me to tell you that anything metal going in or near the ground – particularly in Canterbury – will suffer significant wear.
The point design in particular and how this reduces drag and wear (the two things you want from a plough) are of particular interest.
On the Agrolux body, the point, share and the mouldboard are all on the same plane, which means wear is distributed evenly. Also the power requirement is reduced and soil is less prone to sticking on the mouldboard.
The share points are extra long and designed to offer equal lifespan across the point. The flush point bolts on top of the shear so the soil comes up, does a wee bunny-hop and hits the front edge. Some of this soil then pours over, which allows considerable fuel savings because of the reduced drag as the soil is cutting flush all the way along.
Previously the Lowes' had had trouble with the clay soils sticking to the boards (even when they were shiny) but with the point being flush on the shear, there is no resistance and flow is very smooth.
You can see the bunny-hop of the soil is happening simply by looking at how the paint has worn both on the flush point and the shear. Given the Lowes' plough has done over 1000 acres, the paint should have worn by now if it was going to.
But the plough looks brand new, which is a testament to the build quality of the machine.
The way the bolts are put in to the points, shears land slide etc allows you to wear the parts away to virtually nothing which also keeps running costs lower. Also because the point is bolted onto the saddle this means the shear is quite a bit shorter and again cheaper to replace.
The test machine only had one set of coulters on the fifth furrow (although you can get coulters on every furrow), primarily so it cuts that furrow to make it easier on the tractor tyre side wall.
Bill finds the skimmers work just as well when ploughing straw ground. The skimmers are also very easy to adjust; you simply undo two bolts and each skimmer is adjusted individually rather than both sides.
This machine was fitted with the 200hp headstock. You can get lighter and heavier versions, although this seems more than adequate for the job.
To prove my point this machine easily takes the cake for having the smoothest rollover of any plough I have ever driven.
Most other ploughs suck in the vari-width and then roll the plough over before pushing the vari-width out again, but the Agrolux has an alignment ram which brings the plough to the middle, before it rolls it over so the vari-width bushes are not being worn unnecessarily.
Additionally it makes the tip-over much faster and smoother due to the centre of gravity being in the middle; a genius feature.
Bill is no slouch when it comes to knowing a good plough, so for a man who has been ploughing for 50 or so years he would have seen plenty of machines that wouldn't cut it.
The Agrolux brand is Swedish which is a county also known for Volvo and Scania… and ABBA too, although we won't hold that against them. Never-the-less, quality machines which are built to last are at the top of the list.
Clever design features to reduce drag and wear means the owner comes up trumps. The Agrolux also boasts lower running costs and increased intervals between worn part replacements.
Now that's cheap ploughing.
- 'Easy Set' system makes the plough very easy to set up and adjust
- The smoothest turnover of any plough I've driven
- Hydraulic Vari-Width and Auto Reset
- Excellent build quality
- A number of clever wearing part designs which both reduce fuel consumption and ongoing maintenance
- Individual adjustment of each hydraulic auto rest accumulator
- Made from the same grade steel they build bridges with, so you know it's a solid machine
- The headstock had a quick hitch set up for the lower linkage which makes hitching easy enough, but did allow for some side-to-side movement
For more information check out the Farm Chief website, and for the latest reviews of farm machinery, subscribe to Farm Trader magazine here.