18/01/2012 Challenger - Cuts Compaction
Seven years ago Harry Das and his family were looking for a new tractor, for their mixed cropping farm in Pukekohe.
Their main crops are potatoes and onions, and they also grow lettuce, spinach, cauliflower and pumpkin. It’s an intensive operation and they’ve been doing it for 50 years. Among their clients are McDonalds.
B. Das and Sons Ltd crop 500 acres (200 ha), employing 15 people all year around, plus an additional 20 during the season. They already have 20 tractors but this one was different.
Harry says “A friend asked us, ‘Why not get tracks?’ We looked into it and our dealer dropped one off for us to try. We fell in love with it.”
The machine is a 250hp MT745 Challenger.
“The engine has a lot of torque for deep ripping and power harrowing. We really need the engine to hold its power in those operations.”
The ripper has seven tines, 75mm deep and the whole unit is 3.0m wide. Harry says the Challenger hauls it along without any sign of strain.
He also likes the hydraulics, which can easily lift a five-furrow plough, and the transmission, which shifts smoothly within the ranges.
But the best feature, and the real reason they got it, was to avoid soil compaction. Harry says they could notice the difference it made within a year.
“When you go to ridge-up or mark-out with the Challenger, the moulders flow through the ground without resistance, and they get good depth. When we did those jobs with dual tyres it was trampled and you could feel it when you hit a wheel track.”
He says with the Challenger’s rubber tracks the work is 90 percent consistent now, without compaction.
The Challenger is the only tractor doing the ripping, power harrowing and discing In Harry’s operation. That’s all it does from December to April. It works between 500 and 800 hours a year.
The rest of the year it’s parked up, as the Pukekohe soils don’t drain well and Harry avoids putting extra machinery on it.
The MT745 is five years old now, and Harry expects to get another six or seven years out of it. He says it cost more than a wheeled tractor when he bought but the investment was well worth it.
Harry is very particular about who drives the Challenger. He says he doesn’t put anyone behind the wheel of it because there are issues on working the Pukekohe soils. You have to turn gently so as not to rip up the soil.