Move to Fendt tractors pays off

Several tractor brands were considered before an order for two Fendts was placed with Thurlow Nunn Standen (TNS) by a large North Norfolk estate last year.

Fendt 516 Vario
The Fendt 516 Vario was selected by Kelling Estate for a varied workload.

The Fendt 722 Vario Power Plus and 516 Vario Power Plus were purchased by the 900ha Kelling Estate, due to a change in farming policy when a shared farming contract with a neighbouring farmer and contractor came to an end after many years, and 650ha returned to being managed in-hand.

The new cropping regime includes large areas of cover crops as well as spring and winter barley, sugar beet, and parsnips grown under contract. Potatoes are grown on land rented by the contractor who managed the arable cropping previously.

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Two versatile tractors

“Starting farming our own land from scratch meant we needed to source our own tractors,” explained Kelling Estate manager, Chris Hill. “For autumn planted cereals and in preparation for spring barley we plough, and most of the remaining land is prepared using a Cousins Patriot deep cultivator.

Kelling Estate arable and conservation operative, Henry Howard with estate manager, Chris Hill.

“We needed a versatile tractor capable of heavy cultivations, drilling, applying fertiliser through a large, mounted spreader and for safely towing large trailers in harvest. An equally versatile smaller tractor was also required for general tasks including hedge cutting, topping grass and cover crops with a 6m Bednar batwing rotary mower, moving irrigation equipment, and for cultivating headlands when the larger tractor is drilling.

“We looked at several well-known brands and sought the opinions of neighbouring farmers, but the final decision was made at the Royal Norfolk Show last July when the estate owners and I were able to sit in and compare tractors on various stands and discuss our requirements with dealer and manufacturer specialists.

“After meeting TNS area sales manager, Paul Defew and his colleagues, we were convinced that buying Fendt tractors from them was the right decision.”

The Fendt 516 Vario was delivered on 1st September, and a longer waiting list for the Fendt 722 Vario meant that a Fendt 720 Profi Plus was loaned by the dealer for several months until the estate’s own machine arrived. Arable and conservation operative, Henry Howard joined the Kelling Estate team at the same time, having been previously employed by the contractor who farmed the land.

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The Fendt tractors are popular with the operators who describe the working environment as excellent. There is a good view all round. Both tractors have optional heated and cooled seats, and the seat in the 722 Vario also swivels – making it easier to keep an eye on the control terminal while also monitoring what is happening in front of and behind the tractor.

Extremely capable for its size

The 516 Vario worked with Lemken Karat 4m and Pottinger Terradisc 3m cultivators last autumn. “It pulls them easily and lifts them without a problem, although upgrading our current 750kg front weight to a 1,000kg version would make the balance even better,” pointed out Henry. “There’s plenty of power for our 6m heavy-duty topper working in dense cover crops, and for most of the winter it was used to cut hedges and verges with our long-reach Shelbourne Reynolds hedgecutter. For a compact tractor it handles it well and remains impressively stable with the arm fully extended.”

For most tasks the tractors are operated in fully automatic mode. The required speed is selected, then the Fendt TPS management system selects the engine revs and transmission ratio for maximum efficiency. Forward and reverse shuttling is operated through the main joystick, or by a convenient paddle switch to the left of the steering wheel.

Precision farming

Fendt 516 Vario cab
The 516 Vario has the FendtONE interface which allows users to customise display terminals and controls.

Both tractors have GPS guidance and autosteer. “Accuracy and ease of use was a priority, as we have to be meticulous regarding boundaries between our cropped areas, and land within environmental stewardship schemes,” explained Chris. “The 722 Vario has a Trimble display which is used to manage headland turns and section control, while the 516 Vario has a simpler system used only for autosteer. One of the benefits of working with TNS is that expertise and back-up is always available from product specialists at the various branches.

“Our field mapping requirements are quite complex, with multiple work area boundaries to manage, but the Trimble display is easy to see, and the menus are simple use. Work records are automatically maintained and transferred remotely between the tractor and farm office.”

Successful decision

Henry said that although he had used competitor brand tractors for many years, he quickly got used to the Fendts. “I prefer every aspect now, from the comfortable Fendt cab to the performance, as well as the GPS guidance and precision farming system. “The 722 Vario is 30hp less than the tractor I drove previously, but it pulls the same implements just as well, if not better,” he stressed. “I’m very happy with both our Fendts, and rate them as the best tractors I’ve driven.”

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