Day to day maintenance of trial programmes at a major horticultural research establishment in Lincolnshire has been made even more efficient thanks to a New Holland tractor.
The TN75S-A is now a key machine in the equipment fleet at Warwick HRI's research station at Kirton, owing to its versatility, superior manoeuvrability and all-round performance. It helps ensure that trial plots are maintained to the highest standards of accuracy and control.
Warwick HRI is the plant research department of the University of Warwick. It has a large site at Kirton in Lincolnshire and another in Wellesbourne in Warwickshire. It undertakes work into horticulture and crop systems, environmental and ecological research, plant science, biometrics and other leading-edge disciplines. Links are maintained with other departments at the University, and results are disseminated throughout the wider industry.
Kirton occupies some 50 hectares (124 acres), with modern seed handling equipment and a 4-hectare (10-acre) organic area. Crops grown include field vegetables, young plants, bulbs, flowers and nursery stock, and work can involve trials of a commercially sensitive nature requiring total confidentiality and the strictest quality controls.
WHI Estates Manager Chris Hill finds that the 76hp New Holland TN75S-A has particular features that make it ideal for the Kirton site's specific requirements. "It is more compact compared with others, yet offers lots of power in a small chassis," he says.
Many of the plants at Kirton are experimental hybrids grown closely together in small trial plots, rather than in fields, and a highly manoeuvrable tractor is required to negotiate the narrow aisles in between. "We particularly appreciate the New Holland's special SuperSteer front drive axle incorporated on the TN75S-A," says Chris Hill. "This gives an exceptionally tight turning circle and maximises operational efficiency."
SuperSteer provides an unrivalled 76 degree turning angle and a turn radius of just 3.2m. An automatic traction management system disengages power to the front axle during tight turns and low draft applications, and then re-engages as conditions dictate. A manual override allows 2-wheel or 4-wheel drive to be selected by the operator.
"The TN75S-A also has a much better gear range compared with other tractors on the market," says Chris Hill. "It has a genuine creep speed enabling it to travel at a snail's pace. This is exactly what we need for the short runs on the trial plots, such as spraying operations. It also gives the power and flexibility to drive many different attachments." As well as the creeper box, which gives speed as low as 160 metres/hour (525ft/hour), operators appreciate the Electronic Lift Control, which means equipment can be moved in and out of position without having to use cumbersome levers for repetitive tasks.
Another major plus-point is the high-quality New Holland 'Blue Cab'. "This gives an extremely comfortable working environment that reduces driver fatigue," says Chris Hill. "It also reduces noise, which is an important Health & Safety consideration." A pressurised system ensures that only air that has passed through integral pollen and air recirculation filters enters the cabin for a clean, safe working environment. It also provides air conditioning and can be specified with carbon filters for work involving chemical spraying.
The cab's sleek styling gives a low height which is ideal for tasks at Kirton that require work to be done within polytunnels. "We are currently undertaking trials on drought resistant crops, which must be grown in enclosed conditions so we can control the amount of water they receive," says Chris Hill.
Like other New Holland tractors, the TN75S-A features modern, 21st century styling. Curvaceous panels look good and are highly practical, such as the sloping engine hood, whose narrow profile ensures excellent visibility, and they resist adherence of dust.
WHRI bought their tractor through local New Holland dealer, Pecks of Spalding. The company's David Blore reports that many users are delighted by "the TN75S-A's combination of compactness with the power normally associated with much larger machines. It's like a pocket battleship!"