Deutz Fahr joined the ranks of telehandler suppliers by badging models from construction giant JLG’s range. Jane Carley finds out how the Agrovector has gone down on the farm.
Loading the Keenan feeder is a daily task for the telehandler.
The telehandler is a key piece of kit on a mixed farm and Mikkel Squire has certainly put his Deutz Agrovector 37.7 through its paces in the two years since it arrived at The Grange, Fenny Compton in Warwickshire, where he farms 180 hectares (445 acres) on a farm business tenancy.
With just over 2,100 hours on the clock, the handler is kept busy every day, loading a feeder wagon with straw, maize and grass silage and concentrates for 220 head of cattle, plus mucking out. A handler-mounted straw chopper is also under consideration to replace a tractor-towed version.
Continuous flow hydraulics allow an implement such as the feeding bucket to be set to continue loading while the operator focuses on maneuvering.
At harvest, one shed is used as the grain store so it is needed for stockpiling, and Mr Squire also carts conventional, round and square bales on contract, for his own stock and for the family’s livery yard.
Mr Squire explains; “We needed to replace an old Matbro, and with little pivot steer choice on the market, we looked at a range of rigid machines.
“The Agrovector turned out to be highly competitive on price and offered a very similar specification to the market leader which was considerably more expensive.”
Reach of 7m is useful when loading bales for carting and retrieving bales from the stack.
Towing capability is an important requirement as the Agrovector is regularly required to haul 24 large square straw bales on an 8.2m (27ft) trailer; operator Steve Thornton comments that it even made a fair job with a 12.2m (40ft) trailer when on demonstration.
With 3.7 tonnes maximum lift capacity and a 7m maximum reach, it offers plenty of capacity, says Mr Thornton. “This brings versatility - it can stack 10 bales high to make the most of the space behind the sheds and has also been used to shift concrete panels.
Mikkel Squire (left) and tractor driver Steve Thornton.
“It’s surprisingly maneuverable especially when you consider that we were used to a pivot steer machine,” he adds. “Its tight steering angle means that it can scoop grain and then swing round in a tight shed in one without having to shuttle.”
The smooth ride – aided by the specification of boom suspension is also praised. “I got a nasty shock trying to go across tramlines as quick when loading bales in a machine of another make this harvest,” comments Mr Thornton.
He adds that the powershift transmission took a bit of getting used to after the Matbro’s torque converter, as there is a ‘gap’ between third gear in the low range and fourth in the high range. “But you are never short of power, it delivers the 120hp well.”
An auxiliary depressurisation mode means that the feeding bucket can be quickly swapped for the bale grab.
Although required by tractor safety regulations to be high up on the frame, the exposed position of the headlights has proved a headache, says Mr Thornton. “They are all too easy to knock off.”
The biggest stumbling block, however, has been to the visibility to the side and rear over the engine compartment. Mr Squire comments; “It’s exacerbated by the fact that on a pivot steer machine you can easily look down to either side, and was definitely an issue for us.”
The issue has since been addressed with the introduction of a new version of the machine with a taller cab.
A camera has been fitted on the offside to improve rearward visibility.
For Mr Squires’ machine, Mr Thornton worked closely with Deutz Fahr to come up with a solution, although he admits that he will still crank the seat up as far as it will go.
Mr Thornton explains; “After some discussion about the location of the side camera, Deutz Fahr has fitted two cameras, one at the rear and one to the side, and the monitor in the cab gives a clear view of what is happening around you.”
A camera above the rear hitch can neatly be folded down to give a clear view of the pick-up hitch when attaching the trailer.
“We had the prototype of the high cab version on the farm in the autumn and could see it was a big improvement,” comments Mr Thornton.
Access to the Stage 3b engine is good for most service points.
He also reports good back-up from JLG who provide technical support to SDF in the UK. “But really it is such a simple machine that you can sort most problems out without resorting to the laptop.”
Mr Squire says; “Any machine’s future depends on our business circumstances, but I would expect to change it in the third year, otherwise the hours start to effect the resale value. Then you end up in the position where we are with the Matbro – it owes me nothing and we keep it as a back-up. But now that I have got used to the Agrovector, I appreciate the comfortable ride and good road travel.”
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