An exclusive press launch by Fendt close to its headquarters in southern Germany
An exclusive press launch by Fendt close to its headquarters in southern Germany provided the first opportunity for specialist agricultural press to try out the world’s most powerful conventional tractor. David Williams attended the event.
As well as the new big tractor, on show was a selection of Fendt harvest products including the latest Katana forage harvester, plus large square balers, mowers, rakes and tedders as well as combine harvesters which will be available to UK farms for the first time from 2016.
Fendt is well known in the UK for its range of high specification tractors including some of the most powerful conventional tractors available and, in recent years, the Katana forage harvester has been added to the line-up offered by UK dealers.
Fendt’s well-known sister company brand, has offered a more diverse range of products including combine harvesters and balers through its UK dealer network but, in mainland Europe, these are also available to purchase through the Fendt dealer network, in the distinctive Fendt green.
Awareness of the wider range of Fendt-branded products available elsewhere has resulted in requests from UK users and dealers and Fendt has confirmed that these requests are being satisfied, with availability promised from Fendt dealers that do not also supply products from the sister brand, from next year.
Big, powerful but versatile and compact
Development of the Fendt 1000 Vario tractors began about five years ago and, after significant investement, the brand new range is about to enter production.
“There is demand from farmers for tractors over 400hp, offering a massive work-rate potential and the flexibility to be used throughout the year rather than just for heavy draft work,” explained Fendt UK sales support specialist, Ed Dennett. “Until now there has been no tractor range catering for this need, as the only options for those needing this sort of power have been articulated, tracked and system-type vehicles. The 1000 Vario is designed for heavy cultivations, but an unladen weight of just over 14t means it is also ideally suited to tasks such as pulling wide drills at high speeds to make the most of available weather windows and its overall width of under 3m means it can also be used for transport tasks.”
The 1000 Vario tractors are very impressive, with a front radiator grille standing so tall that a 6ft-plus person is totally dwarfed by the front of the tractor, and out of sight of the operator unless he keeps an eye on the screen view provided by the front-end camera. For a conventional tractor, the view up the steps to the cab is equally daunting with five proper steps to climb – six if you include the cab floor. The rear tyres are massive, at 2.35m (7ft, 8 1/2in) tall and 900mm wide, and it stands approximately 24cm higher than Fendt’s current flagship, the 939 Vario. But, get out the tape measure and the width is confirmed at under 3m, just 20cm wider than the 939, and move the tractor from the farmyard to the field and its other persona becomes apparent. The demonstration included working with a 12.5m wide heavy cultivator, which the 1050 Vario pulled with ease, and in a reasonable size field the combination was ideal, covering the ground very quickly with little time wasted on headlands. There are plenty of large UK farms which could easily justify such a tractor, especially when frequent movement between fields is taken into consideration and for which the ability to move around un-escorted would be a benefit.
It would be easy to claim that the key to the 1000 Vario’s versatility is its flexibility of ballasting, but there is much more to it than this. Transferring up to 500hp, or 2,400Nm torque, from the engine to the ground effectively requires lots of state-of-the-art technology and the new tractor is loaded with it. Tyre pressure adjustment from the cab and on- the-move is available as an option, an automatic traction distribution system has been developed and tools available to the driver through the in-cab screen include a ballasting guide, to explain how best to set up the tractor according to the task, the implement and working conditions.
The flexibility also extends to catering for the demands of markets around the world, including a base specification without linkage or rear PTO, for those using only drawbar-mounted implements.
The current Profi and Profi Plus trim and equipment specifications are available for the 1000 Vario, but a new level, Power Plus, does away with the frills of the top versions, but comes autosteer-ready, and will meet the needs of those working large areas, and needing precision of working but without the high specification hydraulic control features.
The new 1000 Vario has a wheelbase of 3,300mm, 25cm longer than the 939’s, and an overall width of 2.55-2.95m, depending on tyre equipment. For those carrying out rowcrop work, a minimum 60in track width can be achieved on narrower wheels. An unladen weight of 14t means an additional 50 per cent can be added for road tasks, bringing it up to 21t but, in the field, the tractor is rated up to 25t at speeds up to 25kph.
All four models in the 1000 Vario series; the 1038 Vario, 1042 Vario, the 1046 Vario and 1050 Vario, share the same MAN 12.4-litre 6-cylinder power unit. A variable geometry turbocharger helps achieve a flat torque curve, ensuring useable working power at very low engine speeds, a feature of the new tractor. Fendt has developed its ProDrive power concept for the 1000 Vario, and its key element is the matching of performance of every major component around the lowest possible engine speeds, utilising torque rather than horsepower to minimise fuel consumption.
The MAN engine develops maximum torque at just 1,100rpm, with rated power produced at 1,700rpm, which means its main working speed range is 1,150-1,550rpm. The maximum travel speed of 60kph is achieved at 1,450rpm, 50kph at 1,200rpm and 40kph at just 950 rpm.
The engine meets Tier 4 final emissions regulations using SCR (Adblue) and Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR) and there is no diesel particulate filter or diesel oxidation catalyst.
An interesting feature of the new engine is its cooling technology. Keeping such a large power unit cool in hot, dusty working conditions is a challenge, but the large radiators are fed with air from a new concentric cooling system. A concentric hydraulic-driven high capacity fan, which is at the front of the cooler units presses cool air through the heat exchanger. Designed for optimum efficiency, there is just a 2mm gap between the aluminium fan blades and the aluminum air ducting. The use of hydraulic drive allows the fan speed to be optimised to suit the amount of cooling needed, maintaining the minimum possible, which saves fuel and reduces noise. Fendt claims fuel savings up to 70 per cent compared to a standard fan.
Using cool air pushed by the fan rather than warm air sucked through the radiator is the most efficient design, argues Fendt, as cold air has a higher density which means more is pushed through the radiator for efficient cooling. An option, which will be selected by most users operating in dusty environments, is automatic reversing of the fan, which can be selected through the VarioTerminal. This will change the fan’s operating direction periodically, to blow out accumulated dust and debris from the system.
A totally new transmission concept is used for the new tractors. Fendt is well-known for its extensive use of CVT transmissions to optimise power delivery and flexibility and to achieve the most economical engine revs for a working situation, but the system on the new tractors goes a step further.
VarioDrive is a totally new drive train. In most conventional tractors, power is delivered first to the rear axle, and then a proportion of it is transferred to the front, but the new Fendt tractors have power delivered to the front and rear axles separately and independently. Vario CVT transmission is retained but one hydraulic pump and two hydro motors are used, one directly coupled to each axle. This means power can be distributed to the front and rear as needed. For heavy field tasks, when both hydraulic motors are at full capacity, a mechanical clutch, which acts as a freely controllable inter-axle differential between the axles locks up, maximising traction, whereas during headland turns the clutch disengages, and extra power is applied to the front axle, providing a ‘pull-around’ effect and tighter and faster maneuvering. During transport work the axle coupling disengages, but the front axle remains driven, but at higher speeds, above 25kph, a clutch between the front axle and its drive motor disengages, leaving the front axle to rotate freely, avoiding drag and maximising efficiency.
The 1000 Vario has no 4wd selection control as the system engages and disengages automatically to suit the traction requirement. With torque directed to each axle as needed, performance and fuel economy are maximised.
The new transmission uses hydro motors approximately 60 per cent larger than those of the 900 Vario tractors, and a consequence of the new system is that there is just one transmission ratio, with no high and low range to select.
Hydraulics and PTO
Hydraulic performance is impressive, and three different systems are available to suit the needs of the user. Base options are either 169 or 228-litres/minute, but there is also a high performance 430-litres/min option to meet the most demanding applications. When 430-litres/min is specified the tractor is equipped with two independent load-sensing axial piston pumps, one capable of supplying up to 210-itres/min and the other 220-litres/min. Each feeds separate circuits, and is capable of providing different pressures and flow-rates within each circuit. Flow rates at the rear of up to 170-litres/min are achievable. The oil couplings have DCUP lever release and breakaway protection as standard, and flat face couplings are an option.
Separate oil for the transmission and hydraulic systems and a heat exchanger to cool the hydraulic oil contributes to a 2-year or 2,000 hour hydraulic oil change interval.
Rear linkage lift capacity is 12,920 daN (13.2t) and front linkage capacity is 5,584 daN (5,7t).
PTO options include 2-speed rear PTO with 1,000 and 1,000 Eco and there is a new 1,300rpm speed available, when a Cat 4 stub is specified.
Cab and comfort
The new Fendt Life cab is a larger version of the cab fitted to the latest 900 Vario, with an eight per cent larger glazed area and a wider entry door. Inside, the layout is unmistakably Fendt, but includes more storage, a new comfort passenger seat and a new soft-touch surface. Air conditioning capacity is uprated.
Visibility from the cab is very good, with visible outer edges of the rear mudguards lowered by 80mm to ensure a good view down to the sides. While operating in the field with the cultivator, the view to the rear was excellent, and the operator could see right down to the rear hitch or linkage. There is no avoiding the fact that the bonnet is pretty large, to cover that huge engine, but its tapered design meant the view down to either side was good. The high bonnet restricts the view directly to the front centre, which would make hitching up implements or front weights tricky, but the camera, hidden inside the Fendt badge at the top of the radiator grille, provided a good close-up view, improving safety and ease of use. Fitted on the right hand side of the cab is a large wiper, which makes a 220 degree sweep of the glass screen, ensuring visibility to the side and rear.
The cab has 4-point pneumatic suspension and a range of operator seat options to ensure user comfort. Adding to convenience is an automatic handbrake, which will be available as an option.
Access to the cab is good; the five illuminated steps up from the ground are a decent size and provide night time safety. The door opening is noticeably wider than that of the 900 Vario’s cab.
In the field, noise levels from the engine were low, mainly due to the low operating speed, but the transmission was surprisingly noisy. The tractors being demonstrated were prototypes, with many hand-made components which would probably account for the noise of operation, and another factor was the very quiet engine, which would otherwise mask much of the noise from elsewhere on the tractor.
Anticipating that most purchasers of such a tractor are going to expect it to work long hours during busier periods, Fendt has equipped the new tractors with lighting features borrowed from commercial road vehicles as well as the latest tractor lighting technology. Automatic leveling headlamps are an option, and a third brake light at high level at the rear of the cab is a further option, improving safety when operating with a mounted implement or when towing. Also optional are daytime LED running lights and worklights integrated in the bonnet.
Included in the VarioTerminal are new features designed to get the most from the tractor’s performance. Fendt explained that there is often a temptation on farms to over-ballast a tractor, in case of doubt, but that this increases rolling resistance and compaction, as well as fuel consumption. The Fendt Grip Assistant allows the user to determine the optimal ballasting and tyre pressures for the task being carried out, and a demonstration of the system proved it is easy to use.
Two different operating modes are included; SpeedSelect and BallastSelect. For those setting up a machine in the yard from scratch, with the option to add or remove ballast, SpeedSelect is used. The operator enters front and rear tyre sizes, implement coupling type, implement type and operating conditions and working speed, and the program will determine optimum ballast weight and distribution and tyre pressures.
If the tractor is already ballasted and there isn’t the flexibility to add or remove it, then BallastSelect is used, and the operator enters the same information as for SpeedSelect, but includes the existing ballast data, and the system will then provide optimal tyre pressures and recommend a suitable working speed range.
Fendt Grip Assistant is standard for 1000 Vario tractors, and is likely to be an additional feature available to other series from the manufacturer in the future.
Access under the rear-hinged bonnet to the engine and cooling system for servicing is good, and there is an inertia-reel seat-belt type retrieval device, which enables the operator to pull the bonnet down from its raised position. Transmission and hydraulic oil change intervals are 2,000hrs and the engine oil and filter is due for changing every 1,000hrs.
New colour for Fendt
A surprise announcement by Fendt at the 1000 Vario demonstration was a new paint colour, which will be standard for the new tractor. ‘Natural Green’, is a deeper green than the current Fendt matt green, but with the current shade so well established, it will take time to get used to. The new colour will set apart the new model for the immediate future, and will be available at a premium for all other Fendt tractors.
The 1000 Vario is impressive, offering superb performance and technology to minimise fuel use for the tasks being carried out. In the field, basic operation is very straight-forward but a keen user will achieve even better performance by optimising the set-up to match the conditions and task, and with a tractor the size of the new Fendt, even a one per cent efficiency increase will be significant.
The wide cultivator on the demonstration machine provided a reasonable challenge, especially at the higher working speeds, but pulling away from stationary with the cultivator in the ground required very few revs and the engine and transmission worked together to achieve the power needed without any drama. In work, increasing or decreasing the working speed meant the engine speed changed only slightly, and it quickly settled down once target speed was reached, operating at what seemed little more than an idle.
The 1000 Vario will appeal to farmers and contractors looking for a machine capable of extremely high work rates, previously achievable only by articulated tractor or a larger rubber-tracked crawler, but with the added ease of transport of a conventional wheeled tractor. Advantages over a twin-tracked crawler include reduced scuffing and damage during headland turns, as well as a smoother ride on the road, while compared to an articulated tractor, the new 1000 Vario is significantly narrower, and can more easily be used for tasks such as transport from field to store.
It is certainly a tractor an operator will be proud to use, and offers all the comfort needed during long working days, and nights.
The new 1000 Vario Fendts are due to enter production in limited numbers this month, and demonstration machines are expected to be with UK dealers early in 2016, with delivery to farms later in the year.
The cost is unlikely to be cheap, and Fendt advertising and public relations executive, Sepp Nuscheler suggested that a base-spec 1038 Vario without any upgrades will come in at 288,000 Euros while a typical specification 1050 Vario, to suit the UK market, will come in at approximately 380,000 Euros.
300 Vario updates
A new 300 Vario series will be shown at Agritechnica for the first time, and was demonstrated at the press event. The 300 Vario is ideally suited to the needs of smaller arable and livestock farms so is an important model in the Fendt range, its sales volume second only to the larger 700 Vario-series. The first 300-series model was launched in 1980 and the Vario versions became available from 2006 but the latest 300 Vario tractors are substantially updated with many features taken from larger models.
A brand new cab, with a curved front screen design similar to that introduced on the 500 and 700 Vario will be popular with users, providing superb visibility for loader work as well as space and comfort for longer working days. The range has already been awarded Machine of the Year 2015 recognition and it is available in Power and Profi specification versions, the Profi having a 7in VarioTerminal on which to make settings, control performance and monitor tasks. A new control joystick is standard on all models, including Power specification machines and there is added convenience with features such as the ability to set the maximum foot throttle speed with a quadrant lever on the right side control panel, whereas previously this function had to be programmed through the dashboard.
Power is from an AgcoPower 4.4-litre 4-cylinder engine, meeting tier 4 final emissions regulations with the assistance of SCR (Adblue) as well as exhaust gas recirculation and a diesel oxidation catalyst. The AgcoPower engine replaces the previous Deutz power unit which was slightly smaller and equipped with SCR only, and the flagship 313 produces 138hp.
Isobus compatibility is available and a new feature is active dynamic control of relief pressures for the integrated front linkage, which will be popular with those using front-mounted mowers as it allows the operator to set its ability to ‘float’ and follow ground contours.
The new 300 Vario is fully compatible with the advanced CargoProfi front loader.
Deliveries of the new model are starting to arrive in the UK, with the 300 Vario now in full production.
Fendt demonstrated one of its latest innovations – VarioGrip Pro, developed in conjunction with tyre manufacturer, Mitas.
With VarioGrip integrated tyre pressure control systems increasing in popularity, an issue affecting users is that the time taken to inflate larger rear tyres can be up to seven minutes, which can affect timeliness of operations. VarioGrip Pro reduces the inflation time to increase the working pressure of a large 710/75R42 by 1 bar (14psi), to just 30 seconds. To achieve this, a high pressure tyre is carried within the main tyre, occupying approximately 30 per cent of the volume. The pressure within this is maintained at 6-8 bar, (84-112psi), and it acts as a separate air storage tank, its contents released when needed, and re-inflated from the on-board compressor when its pressure has reduced. The front tyre pressures are adjusted using air direct from the compressor as before, but because only the two smaller tyres are receiving air from the system, inflation time is very short. The system remains under development with deliveries expected from November 2016.
Green harvest range expanded and improved
The Katana 65 forage harvester h