John Deere’s latest tractor launch showcases the biggest change to its tractor lineup since the launch of the R series.
A recent Ontario event displayed the new tractors to farmers and John Deere employees in Stratford. The event provided the opportunity to see the new 8RX fixed-frame tracked tractor in person.
The company’s new 2020 tractors include the 8RX, changes to the 8R, an M loader tractor with smaller dimensions and more technology and tire sizes available on the 7R series.
The 8RX is the star of the tractor launch for 2020. John Deere has had the RT model, a single-tracked tractor for years. It has the 9RX, an articulated tractor with four individual tracks, but it was a high horsepower market.
The 8RX is no horsepower slouch, but it gives the market a fixed-frame tractor with four tracks for uses such as planting and tillage where turning precision is necessary.
Tracks make more contact with soil at less pressure. John Deere says that the 8RX with 18 inch belts on the tracks has a 40 per cent larger footprint, with 10-39 per cent more contact pressure than an 8R with duals. With larger belts, the difference is even larger.
“We didn’t just take an 8R tractor and slap four tracks on it and say there you go,” said Tim Lang, territory customer support manager for southern Ontario.
There were several modifications that had to be made to the 8R to optimize the tracks.
They beefed up the 1500 MFD axle and that meant it needed a new oil pan under the same nine-litre engine “in order to make all that extra metal fit in there,” says Kyle Kirchhoff, senior marketing representative for large tractors at John Deere.
The new front axle gave them a sharp turning radius.
The rear differential is specific to the 8RX. The output shafts are higher than in the 8R, so they can run a large undercarriage on the back end of the machine, which Kirchhoff says helps to dissipate the heat when running down the road.
Road speed heat generation is the major challenge with tracked tractors.
The rear hitch frame also had to be moved further back.
Ordering is soon to open for the new John Deere tractors, but the 8RX will not ship until late spring or mid-year, says Kirchhoff.
Two track machines like the RT still have a place, he added. There are wider spacing options on the RT, which is especially important for growers who need particular row widths, such as those growing vegetables.
Dual track models like the RT create berms while turning, especially at the end of the row, and Kirchhoff says the four-track models create little berming, while maintaining the turning radius of a similar wheeled tractor like the 8R.
Understanding what goes on in the undercarriage can help with keeping speeds lower during transport. Because there’s more tread on the road, there’s pressure from the weight of the tractor down and there’s no give in the road. That can create heat. The track belt then transfers the heat into the wheels in the track mechanism. The tractors will run more than 40 km/h, but there’s a sticker in the cab that suggests slowing down if running when the tractor is under load.
More refinement and options for 7Rs
The 7R tractors have been significantly redesigned with about 50 per cent new parts, says Martin Legault, John Deere solutions specialist for eastern Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes.
There’s more range in the 7Rs, all the way from 230 to 330 horsepower in one size of frame. There’s an option for Group 49 tires on the 7R, which had previously only been available on the 8R. That means the larger tire is available on a lighter size of frame.
Legault said the tractor would be ideal on a high-speed planter and can manage all parts of hay production.
It also comes standard with built-in Generation 4 4600 CommandCenter displays and StarFire receivers.
A new look for the 8R
Many of the updates on the 8R are shared with the 7R, including standard precision farming technology and the potential of an upgraded cab that makes one feel like they are in their pickup truck. There’s also an option for a massaging seat, which helps alleviate stress in the operator’s back and legs. The HVAC system has been relocated so that there’s more head space.
In fact, the 8R shares about 43 per cent of its parts with the 7R.
The horsepower range has increased on the 8R, including a 230 horsepower model. It also has John Deere’s intelligent power management, which gives a 35 horsepower boost when using a non-stationary power take off application — such as to run an auxiliary pump on a planter — or when on the road.
A more flexible 6M tractor
The 6M tractor, John Deere’s tractor for dairy and beef producers along with mowing and snow removal contractors has also had a significant redesign.
The tractor line, which ranges from 110 to 195 horsepower, gets new features that help improve manoeuvrability and visibility when used with a loader, says Julia Romagnoli, John Deere’s product specialist for the 5 and 6 series.
The tractors are available in four and six cylinder engines with 94.6- to 110-inch wheel bases. The engine has been redesigned so that on a sloped hood model, the 6110M, there’s 7.3 feet of better visibility and a 2.6 foot shorter turning radius.
A panoramic roof allows for better upward visibility when moving bales.
A new loader design also means better sightlines. The hydraulic controls are integrated with the tractor so that the loader can be detached without leaving the cab.
More power for the 6R line
The 6R line also got some upgrades, including two more models — the 6250R and the 6230R.
The tractors deliver 230 to 250 engine rated horsepower, giving John Deere a third option in the 230 horsepower area, with the 7R and 8R lower horsepower models included.
The 6Rs are ideal for hay, forage and manure hauling.
John Deere’s Infinitely Variable Transmission is the base equipment, although there are two different speeds available.
The frame has been expanded in the 6230R and 6250R to enhance ride quality.
The tractor also has access to all the advanced control equipment in the cab, including options that include CommandPRO control and the Gen 4 CommandCenter.