The Saunders family is on their eighth generation raising crops close to Shelbina near the Salt River and Black Creek in northeast Missouri. Ancestor Henry Saunders traveled here from Kentucky in 1833, and by 1837 was hand-making the bricks and cutting down the walnut trees used in the construction of the two-story home in which Phillip Saunders lives today.
Phillip, 55, laughs that he’s been using Massey Ferguson® and AGCO equipment for nearly as long. “I have seven generations in the shed,” says Saunders, whose sons, Chris and now Luke, are part of the operation.
“When I was a kid, our neighbor had a Massey-Harris tractor,” Phillip says. “That was my first acquaintance and I liked those tractors.” The first tractor he owned was a 1976 MF1105. “That tractor was excellent for us, and that’s where my strong feelings for the brand began,” he says.
His devotion over the years also included numerous AGCO models, such as the 9695 and the 9655. “Those were very strong, heavy-built tractors—very good tractors.”
The new flagship of the family operation—purchased from The Farm Shop, in Edina, Mo.—is the 225-hp Massey Ferguson 8660 tractor with a Dyna VT™ continuously variable transmission. Saunders raves about the power and the fuel consumption.
“This tractor is bigger and more powerful than our previous main one, but it uses 20% less fuel,” Phillip says. “It really adds up to a lot of savings.” The MF8660 also has the additional hydraulic power needed to run the air pumps on their new planters.
As for cab comfort, Phillip didn’t give it much thought at the time of purchase. Now, after logging scores of hours in the machine the past year, he’s a believer in the hydraulic suspension in the cab. “I don’t know what else you could do in terms of comfort. I’d like to have another one just like it,” he says.