Mid-range tractor with a touch of Elite class
Even the compromises seem to work in New Holland's impressive T6030
When you grow up on a farm where there is no particular allegiance to a colour or brand of tractor, it tends to give you a broader appreciation of what's out there. At home, the main ploughing tractor alternated between Easter Block brands such as Ursus and Zetor for several decades, before a Ford 8210 and, later, a Case CS entered the fold.
A Leyland 272 Synchro was the loader tractor for nearly two decades before being replaced by an unknown entity at the time, a Steyr 8090. All the row crop work was done by a Massey Ferguson 35, while a Fordson Power Major ran the roller mill, and still does.
Even a Kubota B6000 had its place for a while, the irony of that being that at 12.5 horsepower, it was the smallest tractor on the farm but the only four wheel drive.
So regardless of brand or specification, I am always fascinated to learn what the next tractor will bring to the table in our user report. It's been a while since we got our hands on anything so this one was eagerly anticipated. With hay and silage on the menu of tasks to dive into, it was time to get busy.
First though, off to Murphy Motors of Glenmore, which is situated on the main road between New Ross, Co Wexford, and Waterford City, to collect their demonstration model New Holland T6030 Elite.
The farming community was first introduced to the Elite variants of New Holland's T6000 series back in 2009 with the introduction of the T6040. It wasn't until last autumn that the remainder of the series filled out with Elite models, all offering a power boost facility.
According to James Carroll, New Holland's area sales manager for the southern half of the country, the T6030 is proving to be one of the firm's best selling models in the series.
"As was its predecessors, the New Holland 7840 and the New Holland TS115," he says, adding, "both were very popular tractors in Ireland.
"The T6030 Elite offers 117 horsepower and with EPM, boosts up to 152 horsepower making it a great all round tractor for applications such as baling, mowing, transport work etc," he enthused.
In all, there are four base variants within the T6000 series: Delta, LS, PLUS, ELITE Rather than having one tractor with a enormous option list, New Holland have mirrored the auto industry and provided four specification levels within the series. There are still options within each grouping but the different spec levels almost identify the appropriate tractor for the appropriate farming enterprise and budget.
My own first impression? In terms of styling, the Italian parentage is certainly evident. It looks good -- really good -- and that always helps regardless of what it's like under the skin. If that makes me shallow, then yes, I am shallow but no more than anyone else out there. Like New Holland, car firms Ferrari, Maserati, Alfa Romeo and Lancia are all owned by the Fiat group, so New Holland have to look the part as well.
On a more practical note, New Holland's four-post cab means that there are two massive glass doors that provide a gateway to the tractors control centre. Access through the super-wide door on the left is ample for my 6'2" frame with its ever-expanding midriff. In fact, a person or persons much larger than myself would appreciate the freedom that the large door provides.
Access through the door on the right, like most tractors, is tight and is reserved for waifs and supermodels. Needless to say these are rarely, if ever, used other than for the odd holler at the dog or communication with the neighbour. Closing the large glass door does require a long arm and a good anchor, but is worth it for the exceptional view provided.
Safely perched in the cab, comfort is provided by air suspension under the seat and further enhanced by cab suspension. Our test tractor was also equipped with optional front suspension but most order the 40kph versions without. Steering wheel height and angle is adjustable to cater for the many different shapes and size of pilot. The seat can also be adjusted to meet the same requirements.
Controls are laid out in typical format, with most grouped to the right and the forward shuttle on the left, under the steering wheel. The lift controls are integrated into the seat's right-hand armrest while a curved grab rail on the right hand console leads you to the transmission up-shift and down-shift buttons plus transmission disconnect button. The latter is required to make range changes or alternatively press the clutch pedal.
Our T6030 was equipped with a 16-speed semi-powershift transmission, which is divided into two groups of eight gears by a gear lever to the right. In each of these groups of eight, there are four powershift gears in two groupings. The powershift gears can be changed under load without clutching (or pressing the transmission disconnect button). To go from one powershift group to the other, it is necessary to press the clutch or transmission disconnect button, plus the up or down shift button. This electronic range change is made quite quickly and smoothly unless there is a big load on the tractor. It is a compromise system but one that works well for this type of middle range tractor.
With everything tweaked and adjusted as best I could to suit myself, it was time to hit the road home. Fortunately, almost the entire route had just been resurfaced. In fact they were painting lines on the road in places as I sped home so for once, I get to praise our roads (or this one at least.) Not a pot hole in sight (or felt), it was positively therapeutic. Radio up and jog on. Shoe choice? Continentals all round, 600/65-R38 on the rear and 480/65-R28 on the front.
Under the hood the six-cylinder NEF (New Engine Family) engine was surprisingly quiet, even when I opted to open the clear roof panel instead of running the air conditioning. Old habits die hard -- a throwback from the days where the entire roof could open up on early Ursus and Zetor crystal tractor providing very effective ventilation. Anyway, the NEF unit is a Tier III powerplant and features common rail fuel injection, four valves per cylinder in combination with a blower and intercooler to maximise output.
New Holland, and its stable-mates benefit from the 'family's' engine expertise as this engine features in Fiat's Iveco truck wing, as well as across their agri and construction brands. There is a selection of four- and six-cylinder engines with either mechanical or electronic fuel injection to choose from.
While the engine was not taxed propelling the tractor and its rookie pilot home, I did manage to make a few gear changes through New Ross and all were nice and smooth. There were two sets of up-shift and down-shift buttons, one on the mechanical range change lever and the other set just below the transmission gear display at the front end of the right hand console grab rail. Those on the gear lever were impossible to reach while the console-mounted buttons position did eventually engrain themselves in my fading brain. However, there would be room for them or another set on the seat mounted lift controls and this would make more sense to me.
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