Four-cylinder ‘pocket rockets’ are now prevalent on many farms, however, the first to break the 200hp mark was the 6718S from Massey Ferguson. Alex Heath speaks to a Staffordshire farmer who is making use of the high power to weight ratio tractor.
When Massey Ferguson released its 6718S tractor in 2016, it was the first four-cylinder tractor to reach the 200hp barrier. In a compact 2.67-metre wheelbase, on paper it offered farmers a high horsepower performer that would be as comfortable in the field as in the yard.
One farmer who took the opportunity of the 6718S’ credentials was Staffordshire-based James Madders.
The 325-hectare farm near Stafford sees 300 cows milked, with grass the predominant crop, although plenty of arable crops are also grown. The tractor arrived at the farm as a demonstration unit in May 2018 and remained after Mr Madders saw the advantage of the machine’s small stature coupled to its powerful motor.
He says: “It is a powerhouse. Whatever task we put the tractor to, it performs well, with plenty of power, enough weight and nimble manoeuvrability.”
The tractor has a power-to-weight ratio of about 30hp per tonne and is the farm’s main workhorse, carrying out most field-based tasks and clocking up about 1,250 hours per year. However, a major consideration to its purchase was its ability to step into the role of Mr Madders’ other Massey Ferguson tractor should it break down.
The tractor responsible for feeding the cows is a 6470, and with some tight buildings, the farm’s second tractor is required to be nimble enough to navigate around the yard should the need arise.
Mr Madders says the four-cylinder unit is agile in the yard and in the field.
“We can get around all the buildings we need to. In the field, headland work is a breeze. With a tight lock, spinning around with the five-furrow plough is easy.”
The manufacturer says the turning circle for the tractor is 4.75m, which Mr Madders concurs with.
However, it is the power produced by the 4.9-litre engine nestled under the bonnet that is the tractor’s party piece, says Mr Madders. A neighbouring farm has the firm’s six-cylinder 7718S tractor, giving Mr Madders the chance to see if the two extra cylinders make a difference.
“Everyone who drives our tractor is amazed by the power it puts out, especially when swapping from the six-cylinder machine. To get the same power and a more compact chassis is a great asset, one that we really enjoy having on-farm.”
While the tractor turns its hand to a multitude of tasks, Mr Madders says mowing with front and back mower conditioners is when it comes into its own and the full power and torque is available. When mowing for second cut silage, Mr Madders says 50ha was dropped in nine and a half hours, using 190 litres of diesel and 10 litres of AdBlue which, by his reckoning, was pretty good going. The manufacturer says maximum power is 175hp at 2,000rpm with electronic power management giving a 25hp boost when pto, hydraulic or speed prerequisites are met.
The demo machine came fitted with the manufacturer’s Dyna-6 transmission, a 24 by 24 semi-powershift.
Mr Madders says: “I have not driven the Dyan-VT models so do not know what I am missing out on. However, the Dyna-6 has been around for years and has a good reputation for reliability. I tend to leave it in auto mode and let it do the shifting for me, but if older drivers get on, they have the option of nudging the stick forwards and backwards if they want.”
So far, the tractor has been reliable, with just one fault occurring.
“A metal hydraulic pipe split underneath the cab while I was ploughing, which stopped me from turning the plough over,” he says.
“Dealers KO Machines came out and sorted the problem, fitting a rubber hose instead.”
And while a linkage, pto and spool were fitted to the front of the machine, Mr Madders has piped a rear spool to the front, making it easier to pick up the mowers on the headland using the two mechanical spool levers to the left of the armrest. This is because the software does not allow for a combination of front or rear spools to be used with the spec-level the demo machine came with.
This generation of tractors was also the first to come with Massey Ferguson’s S effect specification, said to offer increased comfort, service intervals and performance. Spec-wise, Mr Madders says the Essential-spec tractor has everything he needs fitted, but he would have selected climate control over fans if he was choosing another tractor. “The cab is a decent place to be, everything falls to hand, and having driven Masseys for a long time now, it is an easy platform to operate,” he adds.
For precision applications, Mr Madders has added a Leica Mini. He bought the GPS-enabled device second-hand after his previous one that resided on his MF 399 packed in. Although it does not steer the tractor, the light-bar in the cab helps to keep a straight line, useful for mowing and spreading applications he says.
The tractor came with a three-year/3,000-hour warranty, which is nearing its end. Mr Madders says he is in two minds as to whether it needs extending, given the few faults that have occurred to date, but will give it further consideration over the next few months.
“It is a relatively simple tractor by today’s standards, with little to go wrong, in theory. One of the reasons we went for this model was the components in it. The engine from Agco [formerly Sisu] and the transmission are well regarded, so we are not expecting any major faults, it is just the smaller niggly problems that can, over time, build up with unexpected costs creeping in which we want to safeguard against.”
Mr Madders says the tractor is an able performer in whatever scenario it finds itself in.
“It is equally at home with a trailer, tanker, plough or doing pto work, making it a good all-rounder, with a tidy lock offering us plenty of options when we need them around the yard. I doubt we will go back to a six-cylinder engine in the near future as this has proved we can get the power and workload out of the four-cylinder version while benefiting from a neater and nimbler package,” he adds.