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Gearing up for a machinery extravaganza

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It's a wrap: Carlow firm Tanco Aurowrap will be launching its new VariWrap3 product at the Ploughing. The new design allows contractors to load bales for wrapping with either front or rear mounting.

It's a wrap: Carlow firm Tanco Aurowrap will be launching its new VariWrap3 product at the Ploughing. The new design allows contractors to load bales for wrapping with either front or rear mounting.

The new  Zetor Forterra will be on display at the Ploughing Championships

The new Zetor Forterra will be on display at the Ploughing Championships

Budget tractor options on display at the Ploughing will include the Turkish-manufactured Hattat range

Budget tractor options on display at the Ploughing will include the Turkish-manufactured Hattat range

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It's a wrap: Carlow firm Tanco Aurowrap will be launching its new VariWrap3 product at the Ploughing. The new design allows contractors to load bales for wrapping with either front or rear mounting.

Farmers and contractors on the hunt for machinery at the 2014 National Ploughing Championships will not be disappointed.

Once again this year, David Carter and his family are the main hosts at Ratheniska, but many neighbouring farmers are providing ploughing and parking ground to meet the requirement of 700ac for this giant event. The central location at Stradbally, which is just off the N80 and M7, is expected to draw an even bigger attendance than 2013's figure of 190,000.

There was a big improvement in traffic management last year compared to New Ross in 2012, so here's hoping that we get the same again to make a day the Ploughing an enjoyable experience.

The economic value of the 2014 Ploughing is expected to be close to €40m, with machinery purchases (both at the event and through follow up sales) playing a big part in that figure.

Over the three days, many exhibitors will take the opportunity to launch new equipment. These launches generally attract a lot of attention from the visiting public so it's a good idea to plan your time at the Ploughing and make a note of the stand locations you want to visit.

Attraction

Tractors, as always, are a huge attraction for farmers. New Holland, Massey Ferguson, Valtra, Case IH, Deutz-Fahr, JCB, Shire, Claas, Manitou, Zetor, Hattat, Tumosan and Kubota are among the exhibitors this year, but John Deere is a notable absentee.

For those thinking of buying a new tractor this year or next, you won't get a better opportunity to see so many brands in one place.

Moreover, there will be a high level of sales and service personnel on hand for any technical questions you want to ask, so be sure to come prepared.

There will also be a range of combines on display, with new models from Claas, Case IH and New Holland all set to feature strongly. According to the Farm Tractor and Machinery Trade Association, combine sales have remained very healthy this year despite a widely expected tail-off. That resilient buyer sentiment will no doubt be reflected at the Ploughing where new telehandler models will be launched, as well as balers, mowers, fertiliser spreaders, slurry spreaders and hedge cutters.

Machinery enthusiasts can also enjoy an even bigger innovation village, a special arena that will celebrate the best in innovative machinery design.

This display will be well worth a look as it will feature some really impressive new Irish machinery, such as Co Meath-based company Falcon's new forestry forwarder, as well as a host of international names.

Many of the bigger exhibitors will host seminars and information sessions regarding the products featured on their stands.

These seminars give enthusiasts the perfect opportunity to ask questions and seek information first-hand from the industry experts.

In addition to the various seminars and events, all machinery exhibitors will have specialised and trained personnel at their stands to answers questions. Those considering making a machinery purchase over the autumn and into 2015 should avail of the expertise that will be on hand.

Browsing through the exhibitor listings, it seems there will be plenty of options at this week's Ploughing for what I like to call the "no frills tractor'.

Dairy farmers aren't exactly renowned for their love of heavy metal, and are certainly less inclined than their tillage counterparts to spend big on tractors and machinery.

When it comes to tractors, dairy farmers often just want a decent 100hp option that will do the job simply but reliably. The badge doesn't matter as much as the functionality.

Those who identify with this policy will not be disappointed with what's on offer this year.

In recent years brands like Hattat, Tumosan and Zetor have increasingly targeted this segment of the market by producing entry level four cylinder 90-110hp tractors with basic (but perfectly capable) specification levels available at prices starting from around €35,000 including VAT.

Most farmers buying a tractor of this size and specification level will be using it as a dairy or stock man option for doing jobs like feeding cattle, spreading slurry, topping and spreading fertilizer.

For example, take the Turkish-made Hattat model of most interest, - the flagship A Series, which comes with a two year warranty and is powered by a 102hp Perkins engine.

These tractors are distributed in Ireland by Billy O' Dwyer Farm Machinery of Castleton, Co Tipperary, who will be exhibiting this week.

The Perkins name alone is often enough to silence niggling doubts harboured by farmers who may be wary of purchasing lesser known brand names.

Speeds

The A series comes as standard with a limited-slip front axle and an independent PTO with available speeds of 540 or 1000rpm. The gearbox has 12 forward and 12 reverse gears, and the tractor is capable of travel speeds from 1.5 to 40kph.

I had a test drive of this tractor and, while it's all very mechanical, that is exactly what some farmers still require.

Three prominent gear levers are found to the right of the driver's position - one for the three main gears, a second for the high/medium/low ranges and the third for selecting forward or reverse. Prices are very competitive, starting from €35,000 plus VAT.

Zetor has long been a favourite amongst dairy farmers, and the showcase exhibit on the McHale Plant Sales stand will be the new high-powered Zetor Forterra.

Its arrival on the Irish market sees Zetor extend its presence into the high-powered, all-wheel drive segment. The new Forterra will be available in 130hp, 140hp and 150hp versions. The latest range will be displayed alongside its better known Forterra, Proxima and Major stable mates.

Of course, it isn't all about tractors. Carlow-based firm Tanco Autowrap is using the Ploughing to debut its new wrapper, known as the VariWrap3.

The machine has an innovative design that allows for the use of three wrap arms to increase the number of bales that it can wrap per hour. The VariWrap3 design allows contractors load bales for wrapping with either front or rear mounting. The firm has also moved away from proportional control, where there was restriction to just two speeds - fast and slow. The speed of all functions, particularly wrap arms, can now be varied, ensuring less wear and tear on the machines parts.

All functions are contained within a single hydraulic block with the benefit of easier access and maintenance. The cab controller has an improved graphic display, moving from a two line display to a graphical interface allowing the driver to better manage settings.

Indo Farming