In my last article, Machinery Guide took a look at AGCO’s newest Fendt tractor, the compact 500 Series. It fits into a relatively new tractor market segment that offers higher horsepower in a compact package. This year CNH also threw its hat into that big-power, small-chassis ring with the introduction of two new models in both of its brands, New Holland and Case IH.
The blue versions, introduced in July, are dubbed the T7 Heavy Duty models and offer 290 and 315 engine horsepower (240 and 270 at the PTOs). These tractors get a slightly longer wheelbase than standard T7s but bump up the available power to something previously only available in the larger T8 Series. The result, say marketing reps, is a very manoeuvrable tractor that can work well with the kind of PTO equipment livestock producers have in their sheds.
Livestock and forage producers are the customers they believe will be the main buyers of these tractors.
“This machine now has a wheelbase within half an inch of the old 8970 Genesis tractor,” says Dan Valen, product marketing manager. “We’re talking something of a very similar size and capability. What sets these machines apart, really, is their versatility. What we start with is the horsepower-to-weight ratio. Up to 315 horsepower in a tractor package only slightly larger than the current T7 long wheelbase. Versus the T8, we’ve shortened up the wheelbase. The reason we’ve done that is to create a very manoeuvrable tractor. ”
You might expect the trade-off for shortening the wheelbase length typical of a larger T8 would be the loss of some ride features and roading abilities. But the T7 Heavy Duty models can be spec’d out to compensate for that. The tractors come with standard cab suspension and can be fitted with a suspended front axle to further smoothen out the bumps and even help increase traction in the field by keeping the tires firmly planted and pulling.
“As you shorten up the wheelbase to get manoeuvrability, theoretically your ride quality will go down,” explains Valen. “We’ve changed that, and here’s how we’ve done it. We’ve done it with a class 4.75 saddle-mount suspended front axle. Along with that, there’s a suspended cab and a whole new family of seats. (The axle) is a little bit heavier than we have on the long wheelbase (T7s) but a little bit lighter than the T8s. The reason is we don’t have all the weight (of a T8).”
Inside the cab, the T7 Heavy Duty models bring the same Sidewinder armrest control arrangement found in the brand’s larger T8 and T9 tractors.
Under the hoods, you’ll find a 6.7-litre Fiat Powertrain six-cylinder diesel coupled to a CVT transmission.
On the other side of the CNH family, the Case IH cousins of the T7 Heavy Duty, called the Optum line, were unveiled to the public at the U.S. Farm Progress show in August. These two models are numbered the 270 and 300, which are also the available engine horsepowers in the brand reports, although they still end up with the same 240 and 270 PTO horsepower rating and rely on the same CVT-based drivetrains.
The Optums get the updated body styling Case IH will eventually introduce across its entire tractor line. That includes a redesigned hood, grille and cab roof along with LED lighting packages.
To put their horsepower to the ground, Optums are available with a range of tire options, including single tire configurations up to 900 mm wide and an anti-lock brake option to stop them safely when roading with something heavy behind the tractor.
Just like their NH cousins, the Optums can be electonically linked through their Class 3 ISOBUS capability to the Feedrate Control feature on Case IH large square balers. NH calls its version of the technology IntelliCruise. Basically, it allows sensor input on the baler to control tractor speed and ensure the amount of hay feeding into the baler pickup remains consistent across changing field conditions, helping even inexperienced operators to dependably produce high-quality bales.