Busy Central Otago contractor David O’Neill has a fleet of eight Massey Ferguson and seven Fendt tractors, but tractors are not the only AGCO machinery his business runs. He also has four Massey Ferguson square balers and a Massey Ferguson telehandler.
David O’Neill Contracting Ltd is based at Omarama and offers a range of services from baling, to spreading to cultivation and direct drilling.
His newest big square baler is a Massey Ferguson 2250 TPC bought last season. It’s his fourth MF baler, and it makes 875mm x 880mm bales.
The TPC stands for tandem (axle) and packer cutter. This is the first baler David’s had with a packer cutter. Instead of a rotor feeding the crop into the chamber it has a packer.
David says a rotor works fine for round balers because they need a continuous flow of crop, but a square baler packs in the grass, compresses it, and then picks up more crops. Therefore it works better without a continuous flow.
“A rotor does a beautiful job when conditions are perfect, but not so good when you are outside the window. A packer copes better with variations in a crop.”
David likes the simplicity of his MF balers. “It’s a nice simple baler. If anything goes wrong, it’s easy to fix. Some of the European balers have fancy drive shafts and clutches and are more complicated with more things to go wrong. We like to keep things simple up here.”
For 90 percent of its life the MF 2250 TPC makes baleage from grass or lucerne. It does a tiny bit of straw and hay and all up makes about 10,000 bales per season.
The operator sets the bale density from the cab, but other than that the baler sorts itself out. It beeps when it has tied the bale and beeps as it is ejected.
Square balers aren’t renowned for their stability, but the tandem axle makes a big difference. “The tandem is really good. It sticks to the side of the hill better. We pull the MF 2250 with a Fendt 818.”
David also has an older model MF 2150T baler. It is packer baler with no cutter.
“It’s a good simple baler and easy to operate. This last year it was on straw duty and made about 3000 bales.”
Another recent piece of kit is the Massey Ferguson telehandler that David bought in autumn 2015. He already had two telehandlers, which he used to load the wrapper and fert trucks, but the workshop boys also wanted one.
A salesman from JJs in Timaru dropped off the MF 9407S telehandler for them to try and it never left. Its main job now is loading the bale wrapper during the season, while one of the older telehandlers is busy unloading trucks at the workshop and any other lifting job required in a busy workplace.
The MF 9407S is 130hp with a max lift of 3.5 tonnes up to 7.0m. It has hydrostatic transmission with two speed ranges – paddock and road.
There are three ways to steer it: two wheel, four-wheel steer and crab. Most of the time David and his crew have it in four-wheel steer for easy manoeuvring, but occasionally in tight spots it’s in crab to go sideways.
It has plenty of safety features with a roll over cab roof and protection from falling items. It has a series of lights on the dash indicating safe position for the load. If a load is approaching a dangerous position, the lights approach the red, and the driver has time to change their mind.
David has bought all his AGCO equipment from JJs Timaru. He says it is actually hard to judge the quality of the back-up service JJs provides as nothing seems to go wrong with their products.
“They rarely come out here as we don’t seem to need it. But when we bought something completely different, like the telehandler, then they came out to show us all the things on it.”
David and Prue O’Neill have 16 tractors and 10 trucks driving their Central Otago business, David O’Neill Contracting Ltd. They include eight Massey Ferguson and seven Fendt tractors, all from JJs Timaru.
David O’Neill Contracting is based at Omarama and with their fleet of tractors they provide a full range of services including cultivation, baling, silage, direct drilling and mulching. At the height of the season they employ up to 22 staff.
David grew up on a farm in the North Island and his father always had Massey Ferguson, so naturally that was the first tractor he bought.
“I started contracting when I was 16. I had two tractors when I was still at school.”
Since then he’s owned more than 20 ‘Fergies’.
His oldest is a 2002 MF 8240. It’s 180hp and has worked 13,000 hours. “I keep it because it is a good old, simple tractor. I don’t use it much now, but it can do anything, and it’s a back up.”
Another Massey Ferguson they use as a back-up tractor is a 2008 MF 7495. It used to run the triple mowers, but now it tows a heavy roller and does some discing.
The newest is a 2015 MF 7618 with a Dyna-6 transmission. It spends most of its life pulling a four-rotor rake.
The three latest – the MF 7618 and two MF 7622 feature the latest SCR technology to cut exhaust emissions and improve fuel economy, and David says they are as fuel efficient as his Fendts.
He started buying Fendt tractors about 10 years ago. “They are supposed to be the best, so we trialled one and kept it for six years. Then we got another.”
For several years in a row he added one or two more to his fleet.
David says he likes the reliability and the comfort of his Fendt tractors, as well as the 50 kph road speed. His drivers travel up to 110 km to get to clients, so that road speed matters. And the Vario transmissions in the Fendt tractors make every job easier.
“Drivers generally stay with the same tractor, and adjust it to suit themselves. They also save the settings for particular implements.”
David O’Neill Contracting’s clients are mostly sheep and beef farmers with paddocks on the flats. The paddocks are usually quite large, which means David has wide implements such as a 5.0m direct drill. The heavy work is done with the four large Fendt tractors, which are 240hp-270 hp.
The oldest one is a 2010 Fendt 818.
“It does a bit of mulching, and we might chuck it on the square balers or the triple mowers. It runs the cultivator drill and it weighs 6.5 tonnes empty.”
Recent additions include a Fendt 824 and Fendt 927. The 927 runs the 5.0m direct drill for most of the year, putting in up to 3000 ha. During winter it switches to the 4.5m cultivator.
Hydraulic oil flow is 120 litres/min, which is more than enough for anything David needs.
“Three of our drills are air seeders and all have hydraulic fans. The fans can be going 14 to 16 hours a day and the Fendts handle all that hydraulic power as good as gold.”
Another plus is the comfort of Fendt cabs, which makes life easier for all drivers.
“Fendts have the most comfortable cabs out of all the tractors I have ever owned or driven. The 900 Series models are far superior with its independent front suspension. It is so good that you want to keep going,” David says.
“The cab is so quiet that when I ring the guys on the phone, it seems to be too quiet for them to be working.”
Three of the Fendt have SCR systems to reduce exhaust emissions and gain corresponding savings in fuel. “Our drill man goes three days on a tank.”
All of the Fendt tractors have front linkages, which are used to run the triple mowers, push-off stacker or for carrying front weights.
“You can drive a Fendt and not worry about the computer stuff and settings. You just drive it like a manual car. It’s easy to get a driver started on them, and then teach them the fancy stuff later.
“They don’t need to know it at the beginning. You don’t need to be an astronaut to drive a Fendt. I am still learning about them and guys driving them three years or more are still discovering new things they can do,” David concludes.
The Fendt 1000 Vario tractors mark the beginning of a new power class for standard tractors. Ranging from 380 HP to 500 HP, the four new models in the series are big and powerful, yet remarkably compact, agile, fast and fuel efficient.
A breakthrough in class-leading intelligent design, the Fendt 1000 tractors are exceptionally versatile, capable of transport work at 31 mph (50 kph) and heavy draft work. Thanks to their relatively light 30,864 pounds and 60-inch row-crop-capable track width, all four fixed-frame models can fill the row-crop and transport needs commonly delegated to a conventional tractor. Yet, a flexible ballasting concept allows each vehicle to be loaded with up to 50% of its base weight for use in the heaviest draft applications typically reserved for 4-wheel-drive, track and articulated tractors.
“The Fendt 1000 Vario is also the first standard tractor line with a new Fendt iD comprehensive low-engine-speed concept,” explains Josh Keeney, tactical marketing manager for North America. “That means that all drivetrain components, as well as the hydraulics and cooling system, were designed to work ideally within the ‘high-torque, low-engine-speed’ concept to minimize fuel consumption and extend service life.”
As Keeney explains, in addition to Fendt iD, another groundbreaking component is a completely new stepless drive concept called VarioDrive. “Fendt has not only further developed the Vario transmission, but also developed a completely new drivetrain,” he says. “It’s the first drivetrain that drives both axles independently, providing optimized traction, automated 4-wheel drive and enhanced maneuverability.”
“Fendt tractors have always been appreciated by operators for their comfort, power, ease of use and technology offering. The 1000 Vario won’t disappoint, adding another level of precision capability to its operation,” Keeney says.
For more info on the Fendt 1000 Vario tractors, see your Fendt dealer or visit fendt.com/us.
See the full story and a video of the new tractor in action: Fendt 1000 Vario Tractor: Versatile, Powerful, Unique.
Barry Schmitt puts a premium on having comfortable equipment. “During harvest, we spend long hours in the cab, and we move around a lot, going up and down the roads,” says the owner of Barr-Ag, one of Canada’s largest hay exporters. “I want my guys to be safe.”
They are, says Schmitt, because of good training and the use of his AGCO equipment. “We run Massey 4610 tractors on our rakes … and we use Fendt® to pull balers and air drills.” According to Schmitt, the tractors—including Fendt 700, 800 and 900 Series models—as as well as Hesston by Massey Ferguson® windrowers, handle well and are fuel efficient. “They are easy to learn to use and the visibility from the cab is very good.
“They are also exceptionally comfortable,” says Schmitt, “which helps minimize operator fatigue. You get done, a 12-hour day or a 15-hour day in one of these tractors, you can get out and you can still walk. I’m not all stiff from bouncing around. These [tractors] are very smooth, very comfortable. The noise level is small and they’re just very reliable and we enjoy running them.” [I added to get more in about comfort—we had to cut from print due to length.]
Schmitt uses nine large square balers, as well as seven 9870 and 9770 windrowers. “Like our tractors, they are reliable. We need that dependability with the hours we put on them each year. The balers give us a nice square bale, with consistent length … and on the [windrowers],” adds Schmitt, “the double conditioning rolls are second to none.
“These cutters do short crops, tall crops, heavy crops, light crops. You can cut it fast; you can cut it slow. Whatever we’re cutting, it lays well, dries good.”
Schmitt says his AGCO equipment is excellent, but the machines “are only as good as your dealer, and we have a fantastic dealer in Hanlon Ag Centre. They follow our work as we go across with our harvest. Mechanics are available basically 24/7 and they have good rapport with our guys for solving problems over the phone when we need them.
“What really makes it work,” continues Schmitt, “is the combination of good equipment, good dealership, good access to parts and people willing to go the extra mile. That’s what makes our harvest flow, and Hanlon is as big a part of our harvest as the weather and our neighbors.”
Most farmers view seeding as the most important task they complete each year. With few exceptions, the old axiom, “How you start is how you’ll end,” holds true in crop production. If seed is not planted at a uniform depth, into moisture and with proper seed furrow closure, it will come up erratically at best. Poor spacing and uneven emergence are two major yield limiters that must be avoided. At the same time, it’s important to get the crop in the ground in time to take advantage of the growing season, while there is still moisture for the crop to germinate and emerge. In addition, many growers are expanding their acreage to spread fixed costs and improve profitability, which puts even more pressure on the need for efficiency and accuracy at seeding. Fortunately, both the Sunflower 9800 series single disk drill and the White 9800VE series planter lineup combined with the power and precision of Fendt tractors solve these problems with ease.