VIDEO: Top Tractor Shoot Out

The judges of the Top Tractor Shoot Out competition spent two gruelling days under the beating Waikato sun, listening, learning, and testing six of the best ‘high-end farmer tractors’ in the country.

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This year the Farm Trader Top TractorShoot Out took place at the biennial Grasslandz 2014. It was the perfect test field with a vast amount of space and a heap of machinery enthusiasts keen to stop by and see the Shoot Out in action.

Although the sun was shining, the ground was a little worse for wear having had little saturation for some months. However, it only made the tractors we were judging work harder to prove themselves, especially when the Alpego power harrow was hooked up.

This year our discerning judges were Jaiden Drought, Brent Lilley, Mark Fouhy, and Andrew Stewart – all farmers and contractors who know a thing or two about machinery, as well as having a fair bit of experience testing tractors over the past five years.

As mentioned earlier, the contestants in the competition were ‘high-end farm tractors’ and manufacturers and dealers were given fairly rigid instruction on the criteria for each tractor. This year’s submissions had to come with four cylinders, a cab, loader and bucket, and the total package (including the loader) had to come in under $130,000.

Ensuring they were comparable and on an even playing field was essential. Dealers and manufacturers therefore were given free rein to put their best tractor forward in this category.

This year’s competition was no mean feat for the judges. With such a great lineup of tractors, all with fantastic features, the judges were under no illusion that finding a winner was going to be a tough ask. But as with any competition, there has to be a winner – the pressure was on!

Always at the front of their minds was the farmer and how they would find each tractor. Being farmers themselves, they knew what to look for.

To ensure all four judges had plenty of time with each of the tractors, we split up the six tractors over the two days – three on the first day and three on the second.

To kickstart the judging, we invited a representative from each brand to spend 15 minutes talking the judges through the key features, and then allowed another 15 minutes for them to ride in the cab and take them through the operation.

After that, it was all action, starting with the judges getting down to business with the Alpego power harrow, kindly supplied by Origin Agroup. Hooking up the power harrow was one test for the tractors, but actually dragging it through the heavily-compacted, dry and dusty ground was another. The power harrow definitely tested the tractors ability on many levels.

Next the judges loaded up the buckets with a big pile of dry and dusty dirt, which was loaded onto the Fleming trailer – again, kindly loaned to us by the guys at Toplink machinery. A big thanks to them.

Because loading is such a common duty on many farms, it was important we tested each tractor for its ability to load with ease and its visibility.  

After time spent loading and harrowing, the judges took time to assess the tractors further, each taking them for runs individually.

Finally, at the end of each day, we ran the tractors down to Diesel Performance Solutions’ stand, where Mark and the guys dyno-tested each of the tractors to ensure they met their rated power – thanks DPS.

Overall, the Top Tractor Shoot Out was challenging, thorough, and a huge success. Being able to line up six of the best high-end farm tractors in the same paddock at the same time was an invaluable exercise, which enabled us to compare all tractors in a fair and objective way.

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Our judges, who thought they knew a lot about tractors, certainly gained a heap more knowledge over those two days.

Once again, a huge thanks to the dealers and manufacturers who agreed to put their tractors forward for the competition, and to the guys who came along to represent the brands. All salesmen did a fantastic job showcasing their products.

We hope our findings will be of use to farmers all across New Zealand – but remember, these are just our opinions and experience from the two days at the Top Tractor Shoot Out. Take out what you can and what you will, but overall we hope you’ve learned something.  

Finally, a big thanks to our four incredible judges, who not only spent two days away from their busy schedules to be at the Shoot Out, but have also spent long nights deliberating and writing up the Shoot Out results – it was a huge task, believe me.

Congratulations to all tractor brands that entered. Apart from the fact there had to be one winner – all the brands were award winning in various areas, pick up April’s issue of Farm Trader to see the results and check out our highlights video above.

For the latest reviews, subscribe to our Farm Trader magazine here.

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