With its RC Shift automated powershift transmission, Deutz-Fahr’s 6 Series tractor range has gained greater usability, according to one Leicestershire farming family.
Geoff Ashcroft reports...
From the 162 hectares at White House Farm, Peatling Magna, Leicestershire, M. Marshall and Sons runs a mixed farming enterprise with a range of combinable crops, plus grassland to support sheep and beef enterprises.
Third generation farming brothers Andrew and Paul Marshall make the most of the farm’s tractor and machinery purchases through additional fieldwork, with contracting and contract farming opportunities.
It enables them to invest in tractors and equipment, and to seek out operational efficiency with a modern fleet, but also without having to consider high-horsepower, high-cost investments for just a handful of tasks.
Andrew says: “We can pretty much cover all the bases with 160hp, which gives us a useful mix of performance and economy. For heavy draft applications, such as sub-soiling, we can dust off our 22-year-old Cat 35 crawler, which is cost-effective muscle for autumn cultivations.”
It means daily tasks are comfortably handled by a pair of Deutz-Fahr 6 Series tractors, supplied by local dealer A.T. Houghton. One is a 2015 6160C Shift model, while a newer 6165RC Shift model has recently joined the fleet to replace a 12-yearold MF6485 Dyna-6.
Andrew says: “At first glance, our two Deutz tractors look very similar, but the differences are considerable. The RC Shift transmission is a big step up from our C Shift model.”
The revised Deutz-Fahr 6 Series coincided with EU Stage 4 emissions compliance, and the German tractor maker saw fit to introduce a few key changes to accompany the low emissions power unit.
The biggest change was the arrival of a newly developed ZF auto-powershift transmission featuring more speeds, but with fewer ranges. It gives Deutz-Fahr buyers a wider choice of transmissions and slots into the 6 Series line-up between its lower-spec manual range change semi-powershift and its continuously variable transmission TTV models.
RC Shift provides six powershift speeds in each of its five ranges, but with the ability to select automatic range changes. There are four operation modes: manual; semiauto; auto-field; and auto road.
Andrew says: “It is a very smooth tractor to operate. There is plenty of overlap too, so finding the right gear for more field tasks is much easier than it is in our older C Shift.
“I also like the Eco function, which lets you turn the power up and down to suit different jobs. It helps with fuel efficiency, and we have noticed that the Deutz is not a thirsty tractor at all.”
He says refuelling has become a bit too frequent on long days, simply because the tank just does not hold enough fuel.
He says: “I suspect AdBlue capacity has eaten into fuel tank capacity, so we cannot complete a full day without having to refuel, which is an inconvenience when you are busy. But you can at least fill the tractor from both sides, which is a really useful aspect.”
With about 400 hours under its belt, the Deutz-Fahr 6165 arrived at White House Farm in spring 2018 and has spent summer on a wide variety of tasks, including round baling, trailer duties, handling the farm’s four-metre power harrow drill combination and mowing.
Bought as an ex-demonstrator, the tractor was packed with additional specification, including front linkage and 300mm iMonitor touchscreen terminal. And despite an air-suspended seat for increased comfort, there is no facility to swivel the seat to improve rearward visibility.
Andrew says: “We never had the tractor on our six-furrow plough in spring, so we did not really notice the lack of swivel seat until we got stuck into round baling. It is a minor irritation with what is otherwise a good cab.”
As part of the tractor’s updates, a different cab frame has now been used, and this has created a useful air gap between the front of the cab and the engine compartment.
Andrew says: “Noise levels, heat transfer and vibration are noticeably lower than our 6160. It might not be much of a change, but all these little improvements add up to a lot of extra comfort and convenience.”
Paul agrees: “The front axle suspension has also brought us much higher levels of comfort, both in the field and on the road. The front linkage is not yet used for any front-mounted equipment, but it does mean we can easily add and remove the tractor’s one-tonne front-end weight, depending on the jobs we are doing.”
With both tractors required to carry out largely the same tasks, the Deutz-Fahr 6165RC Shift has to be easy to operate and set up. This is something the brothers are pleased with.
Both cite the tractor’s armrest controls as being comfortable to use, with most main functions being within easy reach.
Andrew says: “I like the thumb rollers on the armrest joystick for feathering hydraulic flow. There are times when you do not want to dive into the tractor’s computer to set flows and pressures, nor do you want the sudden operation of full flow from a spool valve switch. The thumb rollers give you that convenience.”
However, both agree that Deutz- Fahr has made a backward step with its drawbar storage.
Paul says: “Our 6160’s drawbar is easily reached from the top of the battery box. The 6165’s drawbar is now slung underneath it, by the bottom step.
“You will need gloves, as it is always covered in mud and filth from the front wheel.”
The brothers say that daily maintenance checks are straightforward, as is cleaning out radiators, which fold forward to simplify debris removal.
Andrew says: “We rely on dealer backup, service and support, which is where A.T. Houghton comes into its own. The company has never let us down and has always been fair.
"Good service is why we will continue to buy our tractors from them.”
Andrew says the increasing cost and complexity found on tractors makes it much harder to justify keeping a modern tractor fleet on farms with smaller acreages.
He says: “Being able to make the most of a tractor’s capabilities for additional work and exploit its performance and efficiency, has become an essential part of the tractor buying process.
“For us, that means having a comfortable and productive all-rounder, like the Deutz RC Shift.”