17/11/2014 Challenger MT755D Lives up to Big Expectations
AN interstate trip to see the latest tracked tractor up close was the final incentive Cameron and Graham Goodes needed to take the plunge and buy one.
Their purchase of a 267kW (358hp) Challenger MT755D model ended 12 months of research and proved a decision which is now bringing them the benefits they expected.
Cameron and Graham farm “Ashmore” in the Jamestown district, east of Port Pirie in South Australia, along with their wives, Stacey and Diane, and one part-time helper, Will Frost.
Their holding is spread around a number of separate blocks in the area.
“I’m the fifth generation of our family on the property and our two young children – Darcy and Olivia – represent the sixth,” Cameron said.
“We grow wheat, barley, canola, vetch, oats and peas, but also run a mob of 1500 self-replacing Merinos for wool and lamb production.
“This year, we have Commander barley, while the wheat is mainly Scout and Mace.
“The grain is mostly delivered straight into the system – we only store what we need for our own feed.
“We generally seed from May into early June, shear in August, do a little hay in the spring along with our spraying and spreading, then harvest kicks off in November.
The family’s Challenger tractor arrived earlier this year in time for the seeding season.
“We were looking around and just felt the tracked machine was worth a try,” Cameron said.
“We liked the reliability, the economical AGCO engine, the System 350 Topcon auto-steer function and the benefits of the tracks in the paddocks – track technology has improved over the years with the pivoting mid-wheels and differential steering.
“This is the first time we’ve had a machine like this.
“We were looking around for about 12 months and actually travelled to Griffith in NSW to have a look at one – there were older models around, but we wanted to see a newer one.
“We were impressed by the build quality and the benefits we believed were there with the traction, the fuel economy and the prospect of reduced compaction. They’re just a more efficient use of power.
“We put 20-inch tracks on it, but that was the only upgrade we wanted.”
Cameron bought the machine from WSB Distributors in Jamestown.
Local sales rep Dean Lawler said Cameron and Graham were looking for a higher-powered tractor which could run over some of their wetter country.
“We took a drive to Griffith and when they saw the quality of the undercarriage of the Challenger they were blown away with how it rode,” Dean said.
“Since we sold that one, we’ve sold another couple – people realising you can get a bit more power to the ground and use less fuel than you can with a conventional tractor.”
Cameron said he could see the potential versatility of the machine.
“At this stage, it’s just a seeding tractor, but, having PTO and linkage does open up your options for spreading or chaser bin work,” he said.
“We’re very impressed with the performance. The ride has been improved, probably thanks to the pivoting mid-wheels and ‘Marsh Mallow’ springs.
“We’ve also been pleased with the cab – it’s very quiet and comfortable and everything you need is in a convenient spot.
“It has the new AGCO Tractor Management Centre (TMC) screen and an intuitive GPS auto steer set-up all the hydraulic settings and headland management tools are there and controllable from the cab.
“On the road, it’s a little more rigid than a wheeled tractor, but it’s not uncomfortable. We’ve found that fine.
“The manoeuvrability is really good, it looks well-built, it’s nice and strong and the lights are good.
“We believe it’s going to be reliable equipment.”