Farmers will had a chance to see a totally new tractor at the Agco exhibit during the 2016 Farm Progress Show where the Agco Challenger 1000 series made its U.S. debut. Penton Agriculture got an early look at the machine North America-focused machine built by Fendt.
The line includes four models from 396 to 517 hp, which is a new class of fixed frame tractor. Usually at this horsepower range you're looking at a small-frame four-wheel articulated machine designed for row crop use. Josh Keeney, Agco tactical marketing manager, explains that with this tractor you get the flexibility of a fixed frame, but the power of the row-crop size articulated machine.
Usually you jump right to engine power when talking about a tractor, but the Challenger 1000 has the AccuDrive system where engine and drive-train are integrally linked by sophisticated software and a first-of-its-kind continuously variable transmission.
Power comes from a MAN 12.7 liter engine that offers high torque at low RPM. "During tests of the tractor in south Georgia we ran the tractor with a ripper-bedder at 8.5 miles an hour at 1,250 to 1,350 rpm," Keeney says. "It did a great job with the 35-foot machine."
And the lower RPM approach trimmed fuel use too. Keeney says that ripper-bedder operation was burning fuel at only 13 to 14 gallons per hour.
High-tech drive train
The AccuDrive system controls engine and transmission with plenty of feedback from the ground. That's key because this is a four-wheel drive tractor, but power doesn't go to the front wheels unless you need it. "The front wheels, in road travel, are actually decoupled from the drivetrain to boost efficiency," Keeney explains.
This focus on efficiency and engine-transmission management - is the latest generation for this approach. Major tractor makers have been turning over more shifting and engine control to computers, and this is the latest iteration.
You push the stick forward, and go. And with the new single-speed CVT on the Challenger 1000 you can go from 65 feet per hour to 31 miles per hour without stopping to change ranges. "That also improves longevity since you won't run at low speed by accident.
The engine itself is a final tier 4 engine that uses only diesel exhaust fluid to meet emission standards. And there's no diesel oxidation catalyst, though it does use DEF. The key is where DEF is injected into the exhaust stream - just past the turbo charger where temperatures are hotter - which helps clean up the exhaust.
As for that four-wheel drive, when running the tractor at speed if you make an end-row turn the front wheels will engage to essentially pull the front around. This can reduce the turning radius as much as 10% Keeney explains. And when you're behind the wheel it's an aggressive feeling with that front end spinning in a tighter circle.
A few features
The tractors can be outfitted with a 58 gpm hydraulic system, but if you have big chores like a large air seeder, you can opt for the 113 gpm system.
Another option is LED lights, which offer bright help at night, and lower power consumption.
Service points are on the ground for easy access for maintenance and the filter and coolant systems are monitored from the cab.
These machines - which are built for North America in Germany, feature tight fit-and finish. They also don't use suitcase weights for ballast. Instead, they use a weight cartridge that fits to a front-mounted system. With those cartridges you can boost, or reduce, tractor weight quickly and easily.
"We know that farmers will have to adjust to this, but it's more efficient than using suitcase weights," Keeney says.
The operator sits in a spacious cab and the tractors come outfitted with the AccuTerminal, which is in the same family as the Tryton Terminal released by the Gleaner S9 late in 2015. The intuitive interface will be welcomed by farmers too.
The Challenger 1000 is a high-tech machine that farmers will want to check out at their closest farm show after the Farm Progress Show this fall. Learn more at agcocorp.com.