A tractor that will do almost any task is an appealing proposition. Something several tractor makers, including John Deere, are now boasting with a raft of high-horsepower, lightweight tractors on the market.
Alex Heath finds out how one grower is making the most of a 6250R...
The challenge of finding a tractor to be the master of all the tasks throughout the year is no easy task, often requiring some head scratching and compromising.
However, for one Shropshire grower, the appeal of a high horsepower unit wrapped up in a relatively compact and lightweight package has materialised in the form of a John Deere 6250R.
Taylor Organic Farms covers a large acreage across the north of the county, near Astley, Shrewsbury, specialising in organic root crop production.
Managing director Nick Taylor explains the need for a high horsepower tractor which can be used for any other jobs the farm needs doing.
He says: “The beauty of the 6250R is in its physical size, in that it is only slightly larger than the company’s other 6R Series John Deere’s, but packs the punch of a tractor much larger in size.”
Mr Taylor says in the last few years the farm had changed the implement fleet, so everything covered three beds, including the hoes, weed burners and bed tillers.
This presented a problem as the most power hungry of jobs, bed tilling, needed more horsepower. This was dealt with in the past with a hired-in John Deere 8R Series tractor which was with them for the planting season.
A second twin-bed tiller was used as a backup, if the triple-bed tiller was falling behind. This was easily manned by a John Deere 6215R.
However, the farm then increased its root crop area to more than 320 hectares, with more than 200ha of this needing bed tilling, so a second triple-bed tiller was bought.
After a season of using a spare 8R a local hire company had, they were told for the forthcoming season the hire fleet was being slimmed and there would be no surplus 8Rs which could be called upon.
Mr Taylor decided a high horsepower tractor had to be bought, but he had a very specific set of criteria; top of the list being it could not just be a one-trick pony.
While on the dyno, one of the technicians was using a computer to trick the tractor into thinking it was traveling above 2.5kph, thus releasing the full power. This got the team thinking and they soon came up with a solution to get the machine to give its maximum output.
Although Mr Jones admits it is not ideal, he has a system which enables him to get full power from the machine. Instead of putting the bed tillers into work and then setting off, he gets the tractor up to 2.5kph, drops the bed tillers into work and then slows the tractor down to the desired working speed.
Dropping the speed off does not stop the boost from working; a compromise the team is happy to live with at the moment.
As for operating the machine, Mr Jones is impressed with it. He says the CommandPro joystick is easy to use and puts all the functions he needs at his fingertips.
“The whole tractor can be controlled with the joystick. The flexibility to use the foot pedal or stick makes driving in different scenarios easy and the controllability, with the various levels of transmission aggressiveness, is handy when changing between road work, filling alongside the harvester and other tasks such as irrigation and cultivation.”
However, Mr Taylor is not so convinced by the joystick. While he sees the benefits of it if the tractor was to only ever be operated by one person, he says it can be confusing for those who have not used it before.
“Sometimes when we are very busy, operators swap tractors and it can be a hassle if they do not know the setup of the buttons, especially as the fourth spool valve can only be operated on the CommandPro joystick. However, as Andrew is usually always on the 6250R, it has only happened a handful of times.”
In its time at the farm, the tractor has had no issues, bar a sensor on the front suspension. It spends half its time on row crop wheels and tyres, as it is required to carry out irrigation duties. Mr Jones questions whether the new tractor is as comfortable when on the row crops as the chipped JD 6175R it replaced, but admits the pressure in the tyres is higher to compensate for the extra weight.
The other issue experienced is the pick-up hitch sits very low to the floor, with only about 350mm ground clearance underneath. This is a problem when pulling irrigators up carrot and potato ridges, and the original paint which came on the assembly is now well worn.
Welcome features on the tractor include a pair of lugs which enable the width of the rear arms to be changed by the pull of a pin, something which comes in handy when swapping between the plough and subsoiler on 860mm centres and the bed tillers and spader, which are on 1,020mm.
The new larger toolbox in the right-hand steps is also appreciated, but Mr Jones says he would still like the small one on the left-hand side of the windscreen, as it is handy for storing and grabbing a small spanner, link balls or linch pins.
The biggest surprise for Mr Taylor is the fuel efficiency of the 6250R. He says compared to a JD 6215R, the new tractor uses the same amount fuel when ploughing, about 30 litres per hour, but can
achieve up to 4ha per day more output.
Mr Taylor is satisfied with the performance of the 6250R so far and says he would consider having another one when the time comes to look at replacements. He says he has been impressed with the way it puts its power down to the ground and fuel efficiency, and the fact he can get it to do nearly any job on-farm, making it a very versatile and worthy member of his fleet.