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The Deere Hunter: Muscly New Holland doing the business for Warwickshire farmer

Warwickshire farmer Ollie Robinson purchased a New Holland T7.315 last year to replace a troublesome New Holland T8030.

 

Here, he talks to Simon Henley about his experience with the tractor, which he has nicknamed...

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The Deere Hunter: Muscly New Holland doing the business for British farmer

New Holland’s T7.315 HD Blue Power is the big gun of the Basildon-built T7 Series, topping a range which includes 10 models extending from 140hp-300hp.

 

In this line-up it is one of three 2.99-metre wheelbase, ‘heavy duty’ models.

 

A flick through the technical specifications will reveal the power ratings of the larger T7 tractors overlap with those of the slightly longer and heavier (3.45m wheelbase) New Holland T8 models.

 

The figures reveal a T8.380 (280hp) tips the scales at 11,360kg, whereas a T7.290 HD (271hp) weighs more than three-quarters of a tonne less at 10,500kg.

 

So where does the T7.315 fit in the real world?

 

The T7.315 HD is New Holland’s incarnation of what has become known today as the ‘contractor pack’ design concept.

 

Versatility is the aim of game, with a high power to weight ratio design allowing for a mix of powerful pto and transport work to be achieved, but the ability to be ballasted up for heavy draft applications when required.

 

In the T7.315’s case, it has a ratio of 35kg/hp. Other noted members of the contractor pack club includes sister brand Case IH’s Optum CVX, the Fendt 828 (32.9kg/hp) and 930 (33.6kg/ hp) Vario, John Deere’s 6250R (31.3kg/hp when boosted to 300hp), and JCB’s Fastrac 8330 (31kg/hp).

 

One such user of the T7.315 is Ollie Robinson, who farms with his father Philip at Priors Hardwick in Warwickshire.

 

This father and son team farms 350 hectares, with 40ha of grassland set aside for the farm’s 550- strong commercial sheep flock.

 

Fertilising

 

The remainder of the farm is used to grow wheat, oilseed rape and winter beans, in addition to both winter and spring barley crops.

 

Besides managing their own land, the Robinsons also undertake 240ha of combining and 160ha of drilling, fertilising and spraying for neighbouring farmers.


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Ollie says: “My uncle is Bruce Hopkins, who was once a wellknown John Deere dealer in Warwickshire. We used John Deere tractors until he lost the franchise. At that point we decided to look at New Holland, which are supplied locally by Murley’s at Warwick.”

 

The first New Holland the Robinsons had was a 6080.

 

“We kept that for eight years, eventually swapping it for the T7.200 tractor we own today,” Ollie says.

 

“Before I swapped the 6080, I also had demonstrations of other 200hp tractors from John Deere, Valtra and Fendt.

 

“The John Deere was the best value at the time, but was too heavy.

 

“I explained this to Murley’s, which not only matched the price, but also suggested I buy a tractor with an Auto-Command continuously variable transmission [CVT] instead of the standard PowerCommand powershift transmission. It was the best decision we ever made.”

 

The Robinson fleet features just two tractors.

 

When the T7.200 arrived, the big tractor on the farm was a New Holland T8030. Powered by an 8.3-litre engine rated at 270hp, the T8030 boasted similar dimensions to the T7.315.

 

However, repeated problems with the front axle soon made the tractor unpopular with the Robinsons.

 

“The axle problems hastened the departure of the T8030,” adds Ollie.

 

“At the time, we considered changing brands. However, once again Murley’s stepped up to the plate and offered us its brand new demonstrator T7.315 HD.

 

“The T8030 was cumbersome in comparison to the new tractor. In fact, I could not believe how manoeuvrable and easy to drive the T7.315 was.

 

“This is a big tractor, yet it is nimble enough to use on the topper or the fertiliser spinner if we have to. I have since named it ‘The Deere Hunter’.”

 

The T7.315’s main tasks are cultivation work and drilling. During the harvest season, the big blue tractor is often called upon to pull a grain trailer, but once the fields are cleared, it is hooked up to a 4m Vaderstad Top Down and starts incorporating stubble.

 

Oilseed rape and an increasing amount of the farm’s winter wheat is direct drilled using a 4m Vaderstad RDA400 drill, which is mounted behind an eight-leg Cultivation Solutions Rapid Lift 400 deep-tine cultivator.

 

By Ollie’s own admission, this takes every ounce of power the big T7 can muster in the farm’s heaviest clay fields, yet the tractor’s performance remains highly acclaimed.

 

“With the AutoCommand transmission, I can set a target speed and let the tractor do the rest,” he says.

 

“I like to prioritise the engine’s performance by using its droop control. This enables me to optimise the fuel economy, by adjusting it on the move, as soil conditions change.”

Droop control enables the driver to adjust the balance between power and economy, to suit the task at hand or the field conditions.

 

“Having set a target speed, by using the droop control the operator can dial back the engine’s power to the point where it relies only on its abundant torque to keep things moving,” Ollie adds.

 

“Limiting the engine’s rotational speed simultaneously reduces wheel slip and can marginally increase the tractor’s actual forward speed.

 

“On lighter ground you can turn down the droop control to reduce the engine speed.

 

“Using this technique I have been able to make significant fuel savings. For example, the T8030 would burn 21 litres of diesel per hectare pulling the Top Down. The T7.315 averages just 13 litres/ha.

 

Guidance

 

“Droop control does not work for everything. On tasks such as power harrowing you have to set it at zero for maximum engine power, because if the tractor cannot maintain 1,000rpm pto speed, the CVT will automatically reduce the forward speed, so the tractor will not achieve its target speed.”

 

The Robinson family started using GPS guidance on its combine in 2010. When they purchased the New Holland T7.200, they still use today, they upgraded to New Holland RTX guidance, sharing a receiver between the combine and the tractor.

 

Control interface for the Auto-Command T7 models includes New Holland’s Sidewinder II armrest, with the integrated CommandGrip multi-function joystick and Intelliview IV touch screen monitor.

 

With the arrival of the T7.315 last year, a second guidance receiver was bought, which would remain with the new tractor permanently.

 

Ollie has uploaded the dimensions and settings for most of the implements used by the tractor into the Intelliview system’s memory.

 

“I like that you can completely set up the working cycle for each implement, including the pressure and timings for the auxiliary valves, linkage lift height and so on,” he says.

“One of the features I do not use is auto-pto, because it is quite slow to react. When we first had it, I actually damaged the power harrow because I wrongly assumed the pto had engaged. I like to use the pto manually now.”

 

Asked how he prefers to operate the tractor, Ollie reveals he rarely uses the joystick to control anything more than direction changes.

 

His preference is to use the foot throttle, which operates as a ‘travel pedal’ when the tractor is used in one of its three cruise settings.

 

Aggressiveness

 

“I tend to use the tractor in one of the cruise settings,” says Ollie.

 

“I always keep one of the settings at 50kph, so when I am leaving the field I just flick a button and off it goes.

 

“You can actually adjust the aggressiveness of acceleration on this tractor. In its most aggressive setting, this tractor takes off from a standing start like a Ferrari, but you can adjust it so it is actually quite sedate.”

 

In terms of reliability, the Robinsons’ T7.315 has to date only suffered one minor setback – an internal leak inside the transmission which was repaired under warranty last winter.

 

Since then, it has been business as usual.

 

“The build quality of New Holland products has really improved in recent years, and although the cab is getting a bit out of date, the T7.315 has proved to be a very capable, comfortable and surprisingly economical tractor,” Ollie says.

 

“I would certainly buy another one without hesitation.”

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