Leap of Faith Pays Off – Valtra Delivers High Performance and Fuel Savings
"We had a look at a lot of different models and test drove a Valtra and really liked it. Loved it"
Shane and Kylie McDonald went in search of a reliable, straightforward tractor for their specialist farming operation in Bell Block, New Plymouth. They found Valtra.
“We had a look at a lot of different models and test drove a Valtra and really liked it. Loved it,” Shane says.
“We did our research and saw it had won a lot of awards in Europe – machine of the year and tractor of the year.”
They talked to their local Valtra Dealer, Field Torque in Stratford, and worked out which model with what specs would best suit them. Shane and Kylie milk 700 Saanen goats and run a Simmental and Charolais beef stud. There is a lot of harvesting required with dairy goats. Over their 90 ha, they regularly sow 50 ha of pasture and lucerne from August to May to provide feed for the goats.
“Goats like shorter grass, so we cut lucerne every month and we cut silage more often and finer.”
While they were building up the goat farm, Shane and Kylie made do with second-hand tractors, but they decided they were spending too much on repair and maintenance. Now they have a new Valtra T194 Versu, which is rated at 190 hp boosting to 210 hp. They specified it with a front linkage in order to take a front mower.
“We need that power so that we can use two mower conditioners. We have never run out of power on hills, and when carting between farms the power and automatic gears makes a huge difference.”
Shane says the T194’s 7.4-litre AGCO power engine is incredibly fuel-efficient.
“We filled it up when we got it. Then our son Jacan used it for 10 days. I got in and asked him when he’d filled it, and he hadn’t. It just went through bugger-all diesel. The cost of running it is minimal.”
Shane and Kylie do some earthmoving contracting, and the Valtra tows their heavy tip trailers.
It also has a loader, which they use to shift bales or load them onto a trailer to move them to their various platforms and lease blocks. The 50 kph road speed makes the 11-km drive more efficient.
When they bought the Valtra T194 they also requested bigger tyres – 710s on the back and 600s on the front.
“With Taranaki weather we wanted a bigger foot print and also we have found when we are towing stuff the tyres make a massive difference with more pull.”
The transmission is a five-speed Powershift. It has four ranges, each with five speeds. It can be operated as an automatic or a manual. Its ability to be operated in a variety of ways is one of the things Shane likes about it. For example, when doing loader work there are two options for using the forward and reverse shuttle.
“We love how uncomplicated it is, especially the touchscreen. It has all the functions I want, but it is easy to use. As we have staff, different people drive it. They are all surprised how easy it is to use. The screen is easier to use than an iPhone.”
The touchscreen monitor also remembers settings. For example, Shane has saved the mower’s settings – revs and speed – and can set the revs for gear changes.
“It can do so many things like changing the speed of the hydraulic control. We use a different flow for the mower compared to the tip trailers.”
Shane and Kylie’s Valtra has six hydraulic valves. Shane likes that he can change the control of those valves. When he uses the loader he controls it with the joystick, but when mowing, he assigns the joystick to the mower with the touch of a button.
There are different options for hydraulic flow, 115 up to 200 litres/min. Shane chose 115 litres/min.
The cab is a happy place to work with all the mod cons like a good stereo, air conditioning and Bluetooth. It is very comfortable and very quiet, with lots of user-friendly functions, like the seat automatically calibrates for the operator’s weight.
“It is a lot smoother than anything else we’ve had. Jacan drives it a lot and loves it.”
It seems odd to single out windscreen washers, but this is a feature that Valtra has considered and improved, and Shane appreciates it.
“The wipers cover the whole window. In other tractors there’s a gap between the engine and the cab on either side that gets dirty, but this does the whole lot.”
The Valtra T194 has a long wheelbase of nearly 3m, however it is still manoeuvrable with a turning circle of 5.25m.
Shane says service from Field Torque, Stratford has been outstanding.
“Vaughan Whitelock sat down with us and worked out what we needed, and then kept us in the loop when it was on the water and when it was arriving.”
Field Torque also spent time training Shane, Kylie and staff how to use it to get the best out of all the many features and functions.
It has been a good decision and as they replace their second hand tractors one-by-one, it will be to Valtra.
“We love it and we are really pleased with it. There aren’t many around here, and with no track record in the area we wondered if we should do it. But I am pleased we went out of the square a little.
“Back up is only 30 minutes away and I am really pleased with the passion and the enthusiasm from the Field Torque staff around Valtra. They love the product and back it all the way.”