Cropping contractors Sam, Chris and David Haworth, who jointly work across more than 25,000 ha in the West Wyalong region of NSW, are poised to be one of Australia’s first owners of new John Deere 2022 9 Series Tractors, with orders placed for two 9R 590 models.
The brothers’ buying decision is a strategic move to grow the power, intelligence and productivity of the machines behind their contracting business, AgTrac Services, which was established by them in 2008. Sam said:
“For this purchase, we were looking for bigger equipment to cover more hectares, operator comfort and ease of use.”
“This will complete our fleet and complement the equipment we have, to maximise our efficiency of operation.”
The Haworths were able to put the new 9 Series to work sowing wheat for a client as part of a demo of the 9R 520 organised by their local John Deere dealer. Sam was immediately taken by the extra horsepower delivered by the John Deere PowerTech PSS 13.6L engine and its ability to seamlessly connect to AgTrac’s John Deere 1890 Disc Seeder. Sam said:
“With the extra horsepower and increased frame weight I noticed straight away any wheel slip was greatly reduced, which was an instant improvement.”
“This meant I could pull the bar at a more constant speed which markedly improves productivity overall.”
To accommodate the extra horsepower of the new 9 Series, the weight of the tractor and the maximum available ballast on selected models in the 9R and 9RX has increased from 27,200 to 30,300 kg, to help put the improved power straight to the ground.
On top of this, several undercarriage components, including the axle and front-frame, have been strengthened across the 9R and four-track 9RX models.
The 9R 590 Tractor, which will soon be part of the AgTrac Services’ business, can also be ordered with hydraulic Intelligent Power Management (IPM) to deliver up to 50 extra horsepower into high hydraulic demand applications, aligning with the brothers’ overarching need for more power and productivity.
Workhorse’s touch of comfort
Running a full fleet of John Deere equipment, AgTrac’s team of six full-time and five seasonal workers provides sowing, spraying, spreading and harvesting services to a large area of the Central NSW cropping region, known for production of canola, wheat, barley, chickpea and faba bean.
The business’ current fleet includes four 9R 470Tractors, a 9R 570, two 8R 320s, three 1910 Tow-Behind Air Commodity Carts, two 1890 Disc Seeders, four S780 Combine Harvesters and one S670. Each machine is pivotal to supporting AgTrac’s varied client portfolio that encompasses two large corporate farming aggregates, as well as smaller family-owned farms.
Given the scale of the business and round-the-clock nature of peak sowing and harvesting periods, Sam said operator comfort was crucial across the machinery fleet and that he immediately noticed the larger, restyled cab which houses a heated massage chair in the 9R 520. He said:
“As it’s an all-electric chair, it’s very easy to fine-tune the overall position, similar to an electric seat in a car, and the fact you can give yourself a massage is a bonus. All these small changes make for a better experience all round for the operator during long shifts.”
The machine’s visibility has also been enhanced with the Ultimate Cab Package, as the chair can swivel 25 degrees to the left and 40 degrees to the right, while noise has been reduced to help mitigate operator fatigue.
Brains and brawn
Although the brawn of the 9R 590 is what initially attracted the Haworth brothers to the new model, Sam said the machinery’s brains, were also important given the need for AgTrac Services to have a connected fleet.
All 9 Series tractors come fitted from the factory with JDLink connectivity, plus, Generation 4 CommandCenter display, AutoTrac guidance and free access to the John Deere Operations Center. Sam said:
“The John Deere Operations Centre is very important to our business.”
“Overall, it helps us keep a gauge on productivity and efficiency, and it makes it really easy to see straight away where everyone is at in the paddock.”
Since its inception, AgTrac Services has run exclusively John Deere, which has streamlined training for new staff members given the consistency of operations across the fleet. He said:
“The challenges our business has faced are centred around staffing and this has been made even more difficult during COVID-19, as we haven’t had access to as many casual workers.”
“With our bigger machinery we will be able to cover more hectares with less equipment and the ease-of-use in our new 9 Series will also assist with training.”
“Using the equipment we have, we are hoping to find the right staff, and to now focus on getting the most out of our machinery to drive productivity.”