trac RIGHT

We test-drive the Farm­trac 9120DTn from Sota Trac­tors – a ma­chine that de­liv­ers a lot at a bud­get price

Farms & Farm Machinery - - Front Page -

At $69,950, the 9120 DTn is al­ready a pretty good value-for-money trac­tor and, when you throw in the 1330kg-lift-ca­pac­ity loader man­u­fac­tured by Poland’s Metal-Fach, it gets even bet­ter

Farm­trac is cheap but it’s not nasty, and it is blue but not New Hol­land. So why is this new bud­get-priced, pre­mium-look­ing trac­tor launch­ing it­self onto the Aus­tralian trac­tor mar­ket?

The Farm­trac brand is an un­known quan­tity in Aus­tralia be­cause the agri­cul­tural ma­chin­ery com­pany Sota Trac­tors only just launched it onto the Aus­tralian mar­ket in early 2017.

While Farm­trac may be a bit of a mys­tery within the agri­cul­tural in­dus­try, the brand names of its com­po­nents are def­i­nitely not. Sport­ing a Perkins en­gine with Bosch fuel in­jec­tion, a Car­raro trans­mis­sion, Mita hy­draulics and a clutch sys­tem from LuK, it sug­gests that the 110hp Farm­trac 9120 DTn is bet­ter than its $69,000 price tag would sug­gest.

If that isn’t enough to prick your ears and spark a bit of in­ter­est, then this will. You also get a front-end loader with a 4-in-1 bucket as well as pal­let forks, hay forks and a round bale grab thrown in to the deal.

So how can Sota Trac­tors of­fer a so-called pre­mium trac­tor at such an at­trac­tive price?

Well, ap­par­ently it’s for a num­ber of rea­sons.

Firstly, Farm­trac had its ori­gins in India, so it’s adopted the sub­con­ti­nent’s model for low-cost pro­duc­tion.

Se­condly, in a move to es­tab­lish more cred­i­bil­ity as a Euro­pean­made trac­tor, man­u­fac­tur­ing was moved to Poland where the cost of pro­duc­tion is also lower than other Euro­pean coun­tries.

Thirdly, Sota Trac­tors im­ports and dis­trib­utes all over the coun­try via three dis­trib­u­tor­ships strate­gi­cally lo­cated in Mel­bourne, Syd­ney and Bris­bane.

So, by elim­i­nat­ing the costs as­so­ci­ated with sup­port­ing deal­er­ships spread all over the coun­try, com­bined with the low cost of pro­duc­tion, Sota Trac­tors is able to pass the sav­ings on to the cus­tomers and of­fer its Farm­trac trac­tors at a very at­trac­tive price com­pared to other pre­mium trac­tors. OLD-SCHOOL EN­GINE

Un­der the bon­net is a stan­dard 4.4-litre, di­rect-in­jec­tion diesel en­gine, us­ing a Bosch fuel in­jec­tion sys­tem. It is a gen­uine, Euro­pean-made, 4-cylin­der Perkins en­gine which in­stils a bit of con­fi­dence right from the out­set.

There is no emis­sions para­pher­na­lia like SCR, EGR or DOC which will please those who pre­fer old-fash­ioned sim­plic­ity.

Its max­i­mum 110hp is achieved at 2300rpm so it’s more than ca­pa­ble of run­ning round balers, hay mow­ers or cul­ti­va­tion equip­ment up to about 3m wide.

The fuel sys­tem con­sists of a 160-litre fuel tank, a stan­dard fuel fil­ter and a wa­ter sep­a­ra­tor fil­ter. The wa­ter sep­a­ra­tor has a clear bowl so you can see any ac­cu­mu­la­tion of wa­ter and re­move and clean it in be­tween rou­tine en­gine ser­vices, which are sched­uled ev­ery 300 hours.

The rare down­side to a stan­dard-in­jec­tion en­gine is that if you run it out dry or get air in the sys­tem, you have to then per­form an old-fash­ioned man­ual bleed by loos­en­ing the in­jec­tors and crank­ing the en­gine to ex­pel all the air out of the lines to al­low it to start again. The up­side, how­ever, is that you won’t be left stranded in the pad­dock due to a faulty piece of elec­tron­ics or blown fuse.

The cool­ing pack­age at the front of the en­gine is fixed and does not fold out, but each item in the pack­age has suf­fi­cient space be­tween it to al­low for easy clean­ing. The air fil­ter is

per­fectly placed right at the front for easy ac­cess which in turn en­cour­ages reg­u­lar clean­ing.

There is about a 10cm gap be­tween the rear of the en­gine and the cabin to al­low good air­flow and help re­duce heat trans­fer­ring into the cab. The in­su­la­tion fit­ted to the front of the cabin (be­hind the en­gine) gives it that lit­tle bit of ex­tra pro­tec­tion against heat and noise from the en­gine.

In fact, all things con­sid­ered, it ap­pears to be a sim­ple but re­li­able en­gine made by a renowned en­gine man­u­fac­turer and is very easy to main­tain by those with even min­i­mal me­chan­i­cal knowl­edge.


In re­gards to the 9120’s trans­mis­sion, Farm­trac has stuck with its pol­icy of sim­plic­ity to main­tain cost ef­fec­tive­ness. The Car­raro stick shift is a ba­sic 4-on-the-floor syn­chro trans­mis­sion with high, medium and low range, plus a high/low speed for each gear. So that pro­vides 24 for­ward and 24 re­verse gears.

A for­ward/re­verse syn­chro shut­tle lever on the steer­ing col­umn brings it into line with most trac­tors of the mod­ern era. For me, the shut­tle lever is po­si­tioned a lit­tle too far away, mak­ing it un­com­fort­able to reach.

The Ger­man made LuK clutch is a twin-disc dry clutch with me­chan­i­cal clutch con­trol. Elec­tronic four-wheel drive and diff-lock en­gage­ment but­tons are con­ve­niently lo­cated on the right-hand side con­sole, which adds a touch of mod­ern lux­ury. It is rec­om­mended to en­gage them only when the wheels are ro­tat­ing at the same speed or when the trac­tor is sta­tion­ary to avoid clash­ing of the gears.

Gear chang­ing can be done on the fly but range changes can only be achieved when the trac­tor is brought to a com­plete stand­still. The 9120 has a top speed of 40km/h.


The steer­ing wheel can be ad­justed up and down but does not tele­scope in and out. If you want to get closer or fur­ther away from the wheel you have to do it by ad­just­ing the seat for­wards and back­wards.

Rid­ing on air sus­pen­sion means you can cus­tomise it to suit your weight but it’s not the most com­fort­able seat that I’ve been on. It feels as though it could do with a bit more pad­ding and it didn’t have much sus­pen­sion travel on rough ground.

I couldn’t find a happy medium. I felt like I was sit­ting way too low if I let a bit of air out to soften the ride, but if I pumped it up a bit to take my weight it felt way too hard and topped out on rough ground.

The first time I jumped in I put a bit too much weight on the right-hand side arm­rest and it ac­tu­ally broke off. My ad­vice to Sota Trac­tors would be to in­sist that a bet­ter-qual­ity seat might be fit­ted to fu­ture Farm­trac trac­tors. Op­er­a­tor com­fort is an ab­so­lute pri­or­ity nowa­days.

Driv­ing the trac­tor is re­fresh­ingly sim­ple. Op­er­at­ing the trans­mis­sion is the same as a car. The lights and wiper con­trols are on the steer­ing col­umn just like a car, not to men­tion the air-con­di­tion­ing and Sony en­ter­tain­ment unit – this in­cludes USB, Blue­tooth and a good set of Pioneer speak­ers. So if you have any sort of driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, the 9120 will feel quite fa­mil­iar.

The cabin has a re­ally good feel. It’s a six-pil­lar cabin but still has ex­cel­lent vis­i­bil­ity. It feels spa­cious and the doors close eas­ily and seal well. De­spite the seat is­sue, the cab is re­ally well fin­ished. Most of the in­ter­nal lin­ings are hard plas­tic mould­ings which won’t tear and are eas­ier to clean com­pared to ma­te­rial.

The at­ten­tion to de­tail re­gard­ing the work­man­ship within the cabin is ac­tu­ally quite good. The door handrails are well po­si­tioned and smooth. In fact, apart from the seat, I’m pleas­antly im­pressed.


The Cat­e­gory 2 three-point link­age has a max­i­mum lift ca­pac­ity of 4500kg. Both left and right link­age arms can be man­u­ally ad­justed up and down and both have ad­just­ing sta­biliser arms.

Hook ends help re­duce the time it takes to at­tach im­ple­ments, while con­trols mounted to both sides of the rear mud­guards al­low the op­er­a­tor to con­trol the link­age from out­side the cabin. While the out­side con­trols are in use the in­side link­age con­trol mech­a­nism is locked out, so some­one sit­ting in­side the cabin can­not ac­ci­dently move the link­age arms and cause in­jury to the per­son hook­ing up an im­ple­ment.

In­side the cabin the link­age is op­er­ated by an elec­tron­i­cally con­trolled con­sole. It in­cludes an LED screen dis­play­ing all the func­tions and set­tings of the link­age. It is easy to op­er­ate and pro­vides a sense of mod­ern tech­nol­ogy.

The trac­tor al­ways starts with the link­age in the locked po­si­tion to pre­vent any ac­ci­den­tal move­ment of the link­age arms.

A cou­ple of pushes on the elec­tronic link­age lift and low­er­ing but­ton un­locks the link­age and it’s ready for use.


It has a 2-speed PTO con­sist­ing of the tra­di­tional 540 and 1000rpm. There is no econ­omy mode like many mod­ern trac­tors, but as most PTO driven im­ple­ments in Aus­tralia run at 540rpm you can se­lect 1000rpm and run the trac­tor at lower en­gine revs and ef­fec­tively use it as an econ­omy op­tion.

I am sur­prised to dis­cover that it still pro­vides the op­tion of ground-speed PTO drive as well. You don’t see it much nowa­days and, to be quite hon­est, I don’t see a huge de­mand for it as there are not many im­ple­ments made now that re­quire it. How­ever, it’s there as an added op­tion. I’m sure there are still a few old su­per spread­ers out there, like the Mar­shall, which used ground-speed PTO as a form of vari­able rate con­trol.

It does have elec­tronic en­gage­ment and the PTO speed is clearly dis­played on the dash in plain view from the driver’s seat.


The MITA hy­draulic sys­tem in­cludes three sets of hy­draulic re­motes and is fit­ted to the rear. One is set up as just a stan­dard hy­draulic in and out. The sec­ond is equipped with float and the third has in­dent at both ends of the stroke to lock in con­stant flow. Each rear re­mote is colour matched to its cor­re­spond­ing lever in­side the cabin to help avoid con­fu­sion.

The hy­draulic pump sup­plies a to­tal of 85 litres per minute to the sys­tem, which is about stan­dard for a trac­tor in this horse­power range.

From those 85 litres, 55 are al­lo­cated to the re­motes and loader and the re­main­ing 30 are re­served for the steer­ing.


It has 380/85R24 ra­dial tyres on the front and 460/85R34 ra­di­als on the rear. The rear wheels have 150kg of weight bolted to the rims and, to fur­ther im­prove sta­bil­ity, the tyres are three quar­ters filled with wa­ter. All in all, that pro­vides over half a tonne of ex­tra weight on the rear.

The tyres have a nice wide, flat foot­print. The ex­tra weight of the wa­ter in the rear tyres low­ers the Farm­trac’s cen­tre of grav­ity, which is com­fort­ing dur­ing front-end loader work.


At $69,950, the 9120 DTn is al­ready a pretty good value-for­money trac­tor and, when you throw in the 1330kg-lift-ca­pac­ity loader man­u­fac­tured by Poland’s Metal-Fach, it gets even bet­ter. In­cluded in the loader pack­age is a 4-in-1 bucket, hay forks, pal­let forks and round bale grab. Top­ping off the loader pack­age is an all-in-one joy­stick with elec­tronic third func­tion con­trol in­te­grated into the joy­stick.

It’s a solid-look­ing, well-con­structed piece of equip­ment that ap­pears as good as any that I have seen on the mar­ket, but its old-fash­ioned in­di­vid­ual hy­draulic cou­plers do let it down a bit. Given the choice I’d go for the all-in-one quick cou­pler.

The bucket quick-re­lease lever is lo­cated at the side of the

L/H loader arm, so you can con­nect and dis­con­nect the bucket with­out reach­ing into the cen­tre of the loader beams. All the hy­draulic hoses are plumbed within the loader beams to pro­vide a bit of ex­tra pro­tec­tion.


Other stan­dard fea­tures that help sweeten the deal even fur­ther in­clude a bat­tery iso­la­tor, LED lights all-round, rear guard ex­ten­ders as well as front mud­guards and a rear bot­tom cabin win­dow that al­lows you to grab bits and pieces out of the cabin from be­hind.


I reckon there are only three cat­e­gories of trac­tors on the mar­ket in Aus­tralia. There is the pre­mium range, the mid-range, and then there’s the bud­get range which can best be de­scribed as the “you get what you pay for trac­tor”.

Since the 1950s and ‘60s, most Aussie farm­ers had a John Deere, Ford, Case or Massey Ferguson.

Some of the names have changed over the years but in some shape or form th­ese still ex­ist to­day and are now joined by the likes of Fendt, Deutz, New Hol­land and Claas, plus var­i­ous oth­ers which I be­lieve make up the pre­mium line-up of trac­tors cur­rently on of­fer in Aus­tralia.

The mid-range is made up of sec­ond-tier trac­tor man­u­fac­tures that are mak­ing a good fist of putting to­gether a qual­ity trac­tor. Th­ese are ba­si­cally a very good piece of ma­chin­ery made of qual­ity com­po­nents but don’t yet have the same stan­dard of fin­ish and up-to-date fea­tures.

In my opin­ion, the 110hp Farm­trac 9120 DTn trac­tor sits some­where close to the top of this cat­e­gory.

It is a re­li­able work­horse for the every­day farmer on a small-tomedium-size op­er­a­tion.

The Farm­trac 9120 will get a lot of at­ten­tion from prospec­tive buy­ers look­ing to save a few bucks. It’s not quite up with the big boys yet but af­ter a few mi­nor is­sues have been ad­dressed, it will start to ap­ply some se­ri­ous pres­sure.

1. Aimed at the bud­get con­scious, the 110hp Farm­trac 9120 DTn trac­tor has ar­rived and is ready for duty on smallto-medium-sized Aus­tralian properties 2. The rear slid­ing win­dow is handy for gain­ing ac­cess to the cabin from the rear of the trac­tor

3. No Im­i­ta­tion. It’s a gen­uine Perkins

en­gine and fuel fil­tra­tion sys­tem

4. The Farm­trac 9120 has moved into the 21st cen­tury with the in­clu­sion of an elec­tronic three-point link­age con­trol with an in­built safety lock­ing fea­ture

5. Rub­ber cabin mounts pro­vide a ba­sic cush­ion­ing ef­fect and help re­duce vi­bra­tion in the cabin

6. Mud­guard ex­ten­sions are stan­dard to

suit the wide wheel track

7. The cabin is well or­gan­ised and has great vis­i­bil­ity but the seat se­lec­tion needs to be ad­dressed

8. No reach­ing. A man­u­ally op­er­ated lever on the right-hand side of the loader locks the at­tach­ments firmly into place

9. The bale grab adds a bit of a soft touch to

an oth­er­wise rugged piece of ma­chin­ery

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