Eight years after its launch, Fendt’s 724 remains a favourite for many buyers. But can it go the distance? One Essex contractor believes so, and his 8,000-hour model remains the firm’s go-to tractor. Geoff Ashcroft reports.
Over the last 10 years, brothers Charlie and Alastair Kruse have been gradually expanding their business, Stud Farm Contracting.
The Maldon, Essex-based firm carries out a variety of tasks, including contract farming, alongside general contract operations and as the business has grown, so too has its tractor and machinery fleet.
While its tractor choices all stem from the AGCO stable, colours are mixed. Frontline cultivations power comes from a 400hp Massey Ferguson 8740S, while general purpose tractors include a Valtra T254, Valtra T213 and a pair of Bavaria’s finest – a 2012-model Fendt 724 and a 2002-model 716.
Charlie Kruse explains: “Our Fendt journey started with a 9,000-hour example of a 714 complete with front-end loader, which was swapped for the 716 when I needed more power. I kept the loader and fitted it to the 716.”
He says the 716 was sourced through local dealer Crawfords, and was a one-owner, 4,000-hour model with full service history.
“The tractor had been really well cared for, regularly serviced and was known to the dealer,” he says. “It did have a new transmission fitted before we bought it, so it never really looked like a risky purchase.”
That was 10 years and 10,000 hours ago and the 14,000-hour tractor is still going strong. The key, say the brothers, is to keep on top of regular servicing and make use of genuine parts and filters, along with regular greasing. A recent dyno test showed the tractor is producing a very healthy 170hp at the shaft, and it has not been tampered with.
“We have been inside the back-end and done the brakes, and also replaced a turbo, but that has been the sum total of it over 10,000 hours in our hands,” says Charlie. “We have spent around £7,000 on it, so the 716 has been a very cost-effective purchase.
It now spends its days on a post-knocker, so the plan is to run it towards 25,000-30,000 hours. We will probably change its oil at 250-hour intervals instead of every 500.”
Such reliability has spurred the brothers on when it comes to managing depreciation and making the most of mechanical reliability. And in 2017, when they found themselves looking for more power, the brothers purchased a used Fendt 724.
“The 716’s original owner had moved up to a Fendt 724, and when it came up for sale – again, a 4,000-hour tractor available through Crawfords – we did not hesitate to buy it,” he says. “It was bought to replace our 14,500-hour John Deere 6920, and the 724 is now heading for 8,000 hours.”
Again, a documented service history combined with a trusted relationship with the local dealer saw the deal done.
It may be recalled that Fendt’s 700 Series made its first appearance at the 2011 Cereals event. The three-model range included 720, 722 and 724 models, with power outputs of 200hp, 220hp and 240hp respectively.
All three shared a Deutz six-cylinder turbo engine with exhaust after treatment through SCR technology.
Up front, 700 Series gained a high-performance cooling pack that fits neatly into a narrow bonnet, helping maintain forward visibility.
But the stand-out design of the 700-series was an all-new five-post cab, which included a panoramic front screen and full-length right-hand window.
Called VisioPlus, the cab is carried on either mechanical or pneumatic suspension systems and offers 5.2sqm of glass. Two spec levels – Profi and Profi-Plus – offered a range of integral options and the Profi-Plus specification, as seen here, gained VarioActive steering, a 10.4-inch Varioterminal, digital climate control, electric mirror package and guidance-ready.
“Our 724 was one of the early Profi-Plus spec tractors, and is very well-equipped,” says Charlie. “It has become the go-to tractor of all on the fleet, and it is favoured for its low weight, good power, ease of use, comfort and visibility. It is the tractor that everyone likes to drive.”
The 724 is clocking up 1,700 hours/year on a variety of tasks for Stud Farm Contracting. A six-furrow fully-mounted Lemken plough, MF 2270XD big square baler, front/rear 6m Krone mo-co combination, 6m Vaderstad drill plus haulage with bale and grain trailers keeps the 724 busy.
“The 724 just eats everything we throw at it,” he says. “It never overheats on the mowers, and it will keep up with hired-in Fastrac 4000’s that we use for grain and bale haulage.”
Both Charlie and Alistair say that the Vario transmission takes some beating.
“It really is a peach to use,” says Alastair. “While there are those who consider the tractor to be complex, it is only as complicated as you want to make it. A little instruction before you start, and then it is down to individual operator preferences to drive with the joystick or the foot pedal.”
However, the biggest complaint comes from the 724’s panoramic front windscreen.
“We have lost count of the number of front windscreens that have been fitted,” says Charlie. “It has become something of a known issue, but nobody can explain why. We have had them just break while sat parked in the yard. And because it is a bonded curved piece of glass, we cannot move the tractor for 24 hours after replacement. The frustration here is that we will lose a day’s work when a screen pops.”
When it comes to fuel and DEF use, the 724 is as good now as it when it first arrived, and the only additional costs have been front tyres.
“The side walls were starting to split, so they have been replaced with BKT rubber,” he says. “Though the rear Trelleborg tyres are original and will probably make it to 10,000 hours.”
The firm has recently added an ex-demo Valtra T254 to the fleet, and the Smart Touch-equipped tractor has yet to win over the Kruse brothers and their team.
“It is our second Valtra, but it is not a patch on the Fendt 724,” says Alastair. “We swapped an 8,000-hour Fendt 820 for the Valtra, and while we looked at a nearly-new 724, the £30,000 price difference was too hard to ignore.”
“That said, if we could find another 724 with the right hours, a full history and at the right money, that would be our first choice,” he says. “Depreciation is a bitter pill to swallow, and it becomes much more palatable with older, high-houred kit – you just have to be ready for some slightly higher running costs.
“We are not afraid of big hours,” says Alastair. “We all provide traceability with crop assurance schemes, so why not with tractor servicing? As long as you know the tractor’s history, then you can buy with confidence – and a detailed service history from the dealer is vital.”