A 38hp Massey Ferguson 1540 compact tractor has taken on responsibility for the drilling and spraying of agronomic development trials conducted by Bayer CropScience at its research farms in Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire, as well as a number of host farms throughout England.
In addition to assisting in the preparation and maintenance of arable and grassland trials, the four-wheel drive tractor is being used to maintain areas within and around a series of bio-diversity projects set up by Bayer CropScience adjacent to its trial plots.
Supplied by local dealer, Mark Weatherhead Limited, the MF1540 replaced a 20-year-old two-wheel drive MF240 tractor and is proving a great success on several fronts, despite producing 12hp less horsepower than its predecessor.
"The MF1540 is more than 300kg lighter than the model it replaced which makes it both easier and safer to move by trailer behind a 4 x 4 vehicle," pointed out farm manager, Andy Blant. "Having dispensed with our own lorries in 2002 and contracted movement of larger machines to specialist hauliers, we now move the smaller trials equipment ourselves behind a Land Rover Discovery.
Although many trials take place at our main site near Cambridge, the tractor with drill and sprayer has to be transported frequently to other farms where field trials are to be carried out. This can involve round-trips of 150 miles and more, so it's a real pleasure to tow a lower weight and well-balanced trailer."
An important adaptation to the tractor's wheels needed to be carried out prior to delivery to ensure that the tractor could work successfully with the existing machinery used by Bayer CropScience to prepare, establish and maintain its trial plots.
"All of our trials work is carried out at 72in wheel centres, ensuring that we follow the same working line from drilling right through to harvesting," explained Mr Blant. "Unlike
an agricultural tractor, the MF1540 has fixed wheel centres so we asked Weatherheads
to find a means of extending the wheel centres to 72in, an increase in overall width of 8in at the front and 10in at the back.
"The requisite width was achieved by bolting a special spacer between each stub axle and wheel hub. The four spacers were purpose-made for the tractor by Weatherheads and were approved for the job by Massey Ferguson, maintaining the tractor's warranty."
With most trial plots measuring just 12m long by 1.8m wide, the MF1540's exceptional manoeuvrability and tight turning circle are two further benefits appreciated by Andy Blant and farm supervisor, Phil Watson, who carries out the majority of the drilling and spraying operations.
"I was surprised at just how much nicer and easier the new tractor is to drive, due in no small part to its four-wheel drive system," commented Mr Watson. "We specified the 12 forward, 12 reverse mechanical gearbox with synchronised shuttle which makes turning on our six metre headlands a real treat. Although classed as a compact, the tractor has many of the attributes of a far larger machine without the weight or the dimensions, factors that are appreciated by individual farmers hosting our trials.
"It's hard to believe that the turbocharged engine produces only 38hp, yet it has loads of torque which helps maintain a high workrate in all soil conditions. I really enjoy driving the tractor."
The MF1540 is proving an ideal drilling and spraying tractor for agronomic development trials conducted by Bayer CropScience. The wheel centres were extended using special spacers made by supplying dealer, Mark Weatherhead Limited.
The low weight and good balance of the MF1540 tractor makes road transport by Land Rover and trailer safer and easier.
Pictured :- Bayer CropScience's farm manager, Andy Blant (right), and farm supervisor, Phil Watson.
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