Down-to-earth McCormick x60 is right on the money
When it comes to fancy electronic gadgetry and complicated tractor controls, the vast majority of Irish farmers just don't want to know about it.
Most farmers want a simple but effective tractor that's not too complicated. Put simply, they subscribe to the theory that "less is more".
Meath man Ronan Delaney is a good example. Mr Delaney is a beef and sheep farmer based in Dunshauglin who farms in partnership with his father.
He keeps a herd of Belted Galloway cattle that were looking hail and hearty with their distinctive white belts when I called to his farm recently. Fodder crisis or not, it seems the Belted Galloway is one breed that is famously capable of prospering even in tough conditions.
Earlier this year, Mr Delaney took delivery of a new 112hp McCormick X60.50 tractor that he bought from local dealer Maher Tractor Sales Ltd in Dunshaughlin.
He didn't stray too far from the mark in that his previous tractor was a 100hp McCormick CX 105. Mr Delaney's logic was clear: he wanted another simple but effective loader tractor capable of doing a lot of bale feeding work around the farm and that could be hitched up for some slurry or fertiliser spreading whenever necessary.
"My situation is similar to a lot of farmers in that I might only clock up 250 or 300 hours maximum on a tractor per year," Mr Delaney explained.
"During the boom years we all know someone who went out and spent €80,000 or €90,000 on a tractor only to bring it home and leave it sitting in a shed for most of the year," he added.
"My approach was always to buy a handy-sized loader tractor for a budget of in or around €45,000 to €50,000 that was manoeuvrable for getting into the sheds and capable of hauling a bale trailer on the road.
"I tend to keep a tractor for five or six years and then upgrade before the value falls away. That's exactly what we did with the new X60.50."
According to McCormick distributors D and S Machinery Ltd, the X60 Series bought by Mr Delaney is the replacement for the older McCormick CX range which has proven to be a reliable workhorse on many farms.
With the X60 series, McCormick's mainstream four-cylinder tractors move up the horsepower scale a little and also benefit from enhanced specification.
Four Perkins-powered models replace the three-model CX line with engine outputs spanning a wider power range. The new range comprises the X60.20, X60.30, X60.40 and the flagship X60.50, developing 92, 102, 110 and 120hp (with power boost) respectively.
McCormick has carried over its spacious cab onto the new series. I wouldn't describe the cab as being groundbreaking in terms of comfort or added extras, but, as mentioned earlier, that is exactly what a lot of farmers are looking for.
Mr Delaney is happy with the visibility for doing bale work.
"The sunroof panel is a great improvement from the old CX we had. Now you can see clearly even if you are stacking bales up to four high," he said.
"It also seems to be a stouter tractor in terms of the feel when you have a bale in the air; there is less rocking to and fro than you got with the CX, which I think could be down to the good-size rear tyres," he said, referring to the 540R65/38 on his new machine.
Compared to the CX series, the new X60 Series features a further two higher-powered engine ratings. The main feature of the new X60.50 is its electronically controlled Perkins four-cylinder, 16-valve turbo after-cooler, common-rail engine.
This new engine delivers 112hp with a good torque reserve. When using the 1,000 speed pto or travelling in the road gears, power increases to 121hp.
This is a feature that has come in handy for Mr Delaney.
"In the summer, and even this spring with the fodder shortage, I have been doing a lot of road haulage work. I've found the new X60 to be well equipped for pulling a trailer with 18 bales of silage.
"You can feel the additional power kick in from the boost function, it's something that I've noticed because that was one area where the CX was sometimes found wanting.
"Another change is that on this model during transport work the engine speed is reduced once you reach 40kph, so that helps manage fuel consumption."
Sitting in the cab, the driver is met with a power shuttle featuring a 36-speed transmission with a three-step power shift of high, medium and low.
The hydraulic reverse shuttle allows easy direction changes, something that every farmer doing bale work really ought to have.
The responsiveness of the McCormick X60's power shuttle can be adjusted by the operator on a dial beside the dash. This means the operator can tweak the reaction of the clutch pedal and power shuttle by settling on a more aggressive setting for some jobs and a gentler engagement for others.
With a modest step-up in power, the four new X60 models' ability to handle larger, heavier equipment is matched by higher performance brakes and an increased lifting capacity. Now an integral all-wheel braking system has been introduced by adapting a heavier duty front axle.
The electro-hydraulically controlled PTO is available with either two speeds (540/1000) or three (540/750/1000). The X60 also features an increased lift capacity of 5,000kg.
For plough men there is a change from top-link to Bosch electronic lower link sensing with load damping as standard. Three spool valves are standard, so for general farm work you should be covered.
It was good to see that another standard feature on the X60 is the Dromone telescopic hitch that Mr Delaney heaped praise upon.
"It's very handy because you can extend the hitch out to see what you are doing during hitch up," he said.
"And the fact that they are being made only over the road in Oldcastle is an added bonus."
Steerable front mudguards are standard, which means the loader brackets do not interfere with the tight turning circle.
As can be seen from the pictures, access to low buildings hasn't been a problem for Mr Delaney with an overall tractor height of just 2.74m.
Finally, the hydraulic circuit delivers a flow pump of 60l/minute and a dedicated steering pump means the loader cycle time remains the same when feeding those Belted Galloway cattle.
"Demand for Beltie steaks is really picking up in cities like Dublin and Galway so prices are good," revealed Mr Delaney.
"We have a Facebook page, Belted Galloway Club Ireland, that people can go to for more information."
For Stories Like This and More
Download the Free Farming Independent App