Above the 300hp mark, a host of developments have seen new ranges and different traction methods emerge, providing plenty of options for those in need of a prime mover. Alex Heath rounds up the latest developments.
For those in the market for a high horsepower load lugger, there have never been so many options and variations available.
Standard wheeled tractors of more than 300hp are still a flexible and popular way of getting power to the ground.
However, there has been a surge in the number of manufacturers offering factory fitted track options, both in half track guise and on all four corners.
With soil protection and preservation rising on many farms’ agendas, coupled with closing weather windows making establishment and harvesting of crops challenging, choosing the right tractor and its rubber is more important than ever.
In addition, several manufacturers are making the most of rapidly changing tyre technology, with ex-factory central tyre inflation systems becoming more prevalent.
Greater control over speed is also on the increase, with continuously variable transmissions (CVTs), often commonplace in this segment, now being used in tractors well over the 600hp mark.
Through the use of more mechanical components, manufacturers say there are fewer power losses through these types of transmissions.
Along with gains in communication between the engine and transmission, this is said to be leading to greater fuel savings.
Kicking off Case IH’s offering above 300hp is the Optum range, designed as an adaptable front line tractor which can have weight added for tillage work or taken off for pto and transport applications.
Shipping weight is 10,500kg, while maximum permissible weight rises to 16,800kg.
Available exclusively with the manufacturer’s CVXDrive CVT, the three model range is fitted with a 6.7-litre FPT engine, topping out at 313hp at maximum power.
Stepping up the power ladder is the manufacturer’s latest developed range, the Magnum AFS Connect Series.
Spanning 347-435hp at maximum power supplied from an 8.7-litre FPT motor, the range is available with two transmission options and two ways of getting power to the ground.
All models bar the range-topping 400 model can be specced with the firm’s CVXDrive CVT. Likewise, all models apart from the 380 are available with a fully automatic powershift, PowerDrive.
The 400 is exclusively available with a 21 by five speed full powershift, while the 310 and 340 make do with an 18 by four version for 40kph applications or a 19 by four if 50kph is needed.
The two largest models are available with the firm’s Rowtrac option, whereby the rear wheels are replaced with track units, up to 762mm wide.
Taking the top spots in the manufacturer’s offering are the Steiger and Quadtrac ranges, both of which have been recently treated to the AFS Connect treatment.
The former has power outputs up to 558hp and is made up of three models, while the later tops out at 692hp.
All Steiger models are available with CVT or powershift transmissions, as are the three smallest Quadtrac models. The 580 and 620 both feature a 16 by two powershift.
The most recent and notable additions to the Claas stable are its developments to the Axion 900 Series.
Within the five-strong range, which spans 325-445hp, produced from an 8.7-litre FPT engine, two models, the Axion 930 and 960, have been singled out for Terra Trac treatment.
This sees the 445hp 960TT and 335hp 930TT have the rear-end remodelled to include a version of the firm’s Terra Tracs, which differ significantly from those found on its combines.
A larger drive wheel has been added to help make the most of the torque delivered to it. Likewise, spokes have been included to aid cleaning.
Track width options include 635mm, 735mm and 890mm. When compared to a 900mm tyre on a 42-inch rim, the 890mmwide track has a footprint 35 per cent larger, at 3.87sq.m.
As a result, the company says the tractor produces 50 per cent less ground pressure, while also providing 15 per cent more tractive power.
Its wheeled Axion 900 Series is now also available with its CTIC central tyre inflation system.
The manufacturer says operation is controlled through the tractor’s Cebis touch-screen and can inflate a set of 600/70 R28 (front) and 710/70 R38 (rear) tyres from 0.8 to 1.8 bar in 80 seconds.
The company has also recently overhauled its flagship Xerion series, replacing the smallest 4000 model in favour of the 462hp 4200.
The three models in the range now all use a 12.8-litre engine from Mercedes Benz, which produces 530hp in the largest tractor.
Although the manufacturer launched the tracked Xerion TS at Agritechnica last year, it has no immediate plans to bring it into the UK.
Currently the largest range Deutz-Fahr offers, the 9 Series covers power options of 295, 312 and 336hp. Power comes from a Deutz 7.8-litre engine with a two-stage turbocharger.
All models feature the manufacturer’s TTV continuously variable transmission, capable of speeds up to 60kph.
During transport work, the firm says 90 per cent mechanical drive delivers power to the wheels.
Inside the MaxiVision2 cab, buttons are colour co-ordinated to allow for quick identification, according to the company. And the firm’s iMonitor 2.0 allows for precision farming programmes, as well as guidance systems, to be run through the screen.
A multi-functional joystick can also be programmed to perform various tractor functions.
Tractors are IsoBus-certified and come tractor implement management ready. This allows implements to communicate with the tractor to automatically change factors which influence the work rate or quality of work.
The range-topping 9340 is available in the firm’s Warrior livery. Features of the package include black paintwork and extra LED work lights.
Model: Deutz-Fahr 9340 TTV
Power rated/maximum: 316/336hp
Engine: Stage 5, six-cylinder, 7.8-litre, Deutz
Rear lift capacity: 12,000kg
Maximum weight: 18,000kg
Hydraulics: Up to 210 litres/minute
Base list price: £279,533
Fendt has been busy during the past year fettling its largest tractor ranges.
The ever popular 900 Vario Series has had a major revamp, with power and styling updates bringing it in line with its flagship wheeled tractor, the 1000 Vario Series.
Designed with a high power-toweight ratio in mind, unladen weight is 11.7 tonnes, with increased power levels across the range.
The previous generation 927 has been dropped and the 415hp 942 range topper added.
Engine-wise, the manufacturer has plumped for a nine-litre block from MAN, ousting the Deutz unit of old. Learning from the principles of the 1000 Series, the low-revving unit produces 1,970Nm at 1,100rpm in the 942.
Likewise, the manufacturer has pinched the transmission from the new tractor’s big brother, with one hydrostatic pump feeding a motor on each axle.
This set-up allows the tractor to be in constant four-wheel drive up to 25kph, then after, the front axle disengages drive up to the tractor’s top speed of 60kph.
The manufacturer’s VarioGrip central tyre inflation system is widely available as an option across its ranges, with Grip Assistant calculating the required ballast and tyre pressure for the implement and speed of operation.
Fendt has also been busy with the Challenger-derived 1100MT Series, with the addition of a Vario stepless transmission, alongside several other features to modernise the twin track machine.
Spanning 511-673hp from MAN engines of 15.2 and 16.2-litre capacities, the transmission is again shared with the 1000 Series.
However, like the rest of the manufacturer’s range in this power band, the iD concept first touted on the 900MT Vario is used, with a low speed, high torque principal. The flagship 1167MT delivers 3,100Nm at 1,500rpm.
The cab has been ‘Fendt-ised’, with the same used on the 900MT now featuring on the bigger tracklayer. Track units have also been overhauled to include suspension and both can oscillate independent of each other.
At the rear end, the manufacturer has added a swinging drawbar and pivoting linkage. With just a drawbar fitted it can be swivelled 28-degrees in either direction.
With a three-point linkage and drawbar fitted, the suspended linkage has a movement radius of 12-degrees in both directions, while the drawbar can swing 11.5-degrees.
Available since 2016 in two models, JCB’s Fastrac 8000 Series has power outputs of 309hp and 348hp.
Power comes from an 8.4-litre, Stage 5, Agco Power engine, while the transmission is also sourced from Agco. This is an adapted version of the Fendt 900 Series’ Vario, capable of 70kph road speeds.
The cab is shared with the firm’s smaller 4000 Series and is suspended on all four corners. It also features the same screen and programmable joystick, capable of setting and running tractor functions.
Stronger and more advanced suspension on the front and rear axles keep the tractor stable at speeds on the road and can help with traction in the field.
Ride height and level of dampening can now also be controlled on each axle, allowing the machine to be levelled out, depending on where the weight is. As a result, maximum permissible weight is now 18 tonnes, some 13 per cent higher than the previous generation and 5t can be placed on the rear deck.
DOT standard air brakes and a hydrostatic dual steering system keep the tractor in order on the road.
Unlike the firm’s 4000 Series, which uses four equal size wheels, the 8000 Series uses different sizes for front and rear, aiming to get the best possible traction. Designed with a full length chassis, weight distribution is near 50:50.
John Deere has thoroughly refreshed its largest conventional tractors, with both the 7R and 8R ranges getting a host of updates, not least a jump up the power rankings and alternative traction methods.
Within the 7R Series, models now extend to the 7R350, with a rated power of 350hp and a maximum power figure with the firm’s Intelligent Power Management (IPM) of 388hp.
Power for the two smallest models in the range, which top out at 305hp, is provided by the manufacturer’s 6.8-litre engine, while the four largest use a nine-litre.
With an average shipping weight of 11,400kg, 40kph models with front brakes can be ballasted up to 18,000kg, while those with a 50kph transmission can be weighted up to 16,000kg.
Transmission options extend to the manufacturer’s e23 powershift with 23 forward and 11 reverse speeds, or its AutoPowr CVT, which can now be controlled with the firm’s CommandPro joystick.
Cabs on both the 7R and 8R Series have been revamped, with styling coming from BMW.
There are four spec levels: Select; Premium; Ultimate; and Signature. These give various options, including massaging seats which can swivel to 40-degrees and increased levels of tech.
The biggest development within the 8R series is the addition of the four track 8RX models. With four power levels ranging from 357-458hp at maximum power with IPM, all but the largest 8RX 410 model can be specced with either e23 or AutoPowr transmissions, with the largest only available as a powershift.
More than just bolted on track units, from the rear of the engine, all castings are bespoke to the 8RX, allowing for the extra forces encountered.
Fully laden, the 8RX can tip the scales at 24 tonnes, with belt widths of 457mm or 610mm on the front and 457mm, 610mm or 762mm on the rear.
A combination of the widest tracks gives a 4.5sq.m footprint and exerts about 0.5 bar of ground pressure, according to the manufacturer.
Massey Ferguson’s offering in this power bracket is its 8700S range of tractors, comprising six models from 300-405hp.
Power comes from Agco’s own Stage 5, 8.4-litre engine, while drive is directed through the company’s Dyna VT, CVT, derived from sister company Fendt.
At just 10.8 tonnes, the machine has a weight to power ratio of just 26.7kg/hp. However, the tractor has a maximum permissible weight of 18t, so ballast can be added for heavy draft applications.
Recently introduced across the entire range of Beauvais-built tractors is Massey’s S Effect styling. Not only does the S Effect change the tractor look, extra safety and operational features have also been added to the package.
In the cab, the firm’s IsoBuscompatible Fieldstar 5 or Datatronic 5 terminals take care of tractor and implement functions via a nine-inch touch-screen.
Precision farming programmes are also run through the screen, enabling mapping, section control and variable rates to be controlled through the console.
For operator comfort, the company’s active mechanical cab suspension has been taken from the 6700 Series and added to the 8700 Series.
Extra LED work light and a multi-functional joystick complete the package.
New Holland’s high horsepower ranges are its T7 HD and T8 Series.
With maximum power outputs of 273-313hp, the three-model T7 HD range is New Holland’s take on a high power-to-weight-ratio tractor, capable of a carrying a maximum of 16,800kg and features a maximum lift capacity of 11,058kg. Power for the range comes from a Stage 5, 6.7-litre unit from FPT.
The company’s T8 Series has recently undergone a makeover, now featuring the legendary Genesis name, first used on its 70 Series in the 1990s, making a resurgence.
Where those tractors were a step change for the company, it says this new tractor is equally as big a deal, with a massive injection of technology, opening the door for different operation methods, says the company.
The four-model T8 Genesis with the Precision Land Management connectivity range has maximum power outputs of 351-435hp with the firm’s Engine Power Management boost. Power comes from an 8.7-litre FPT block.
All models in the range can be equipped with the firm’s CVT offering, AutoCommand, while the three smallest models are also available with its full powershift, UltraCommand, with 18 or 19 speeds, depending on the required top speeds of 40kph or 50kph.
The two largest models are available in halftrack configuration, using the company’s SmartTrax system.
The rear tracks are said to increase the contact area with the ground by 325 per cent, aiding grip, but unlike twin-track machines, not scuffing over the ground as it turns.
The SmartTrax option adds considerable ballast to the weight of the machine, about five tonnes for the T8.410 and 3.5t for the T8.435, although when fitted, maximum permissible weight rises from 18,000kg for wheeled versions to 24,500kg for the tracked variants.
Spanning 300-405hp, the S4 Series from Valtra comprises six models. Power comes from an 8.4-litre Agco power engine, with two sequential turbos.
Like MF’s equivalent 8700S Series, the S Series is also built in Beauvais and shares several parts from its Agco stablemates, including Fendt’s Vario transmission and Massey’s cab frame.
Control console What differentiates the Valtra brand is the SmartTouch control console.
Designed to be simple and intuitive to use, the whole armrest has been configured to make set-up and operation easier. In addition, multiple programmable buttons and the joystick allow for customisation of implement operation.
In addition, the firm can fit the reverse drive TwinTrac system ex-factory. The firm says it is popular for contractors running triple mowers and wood chippers.
The seat and armrest spin 180-degrees, allowing the driver to use the steering wheel and pedals situated at the back.