Harrison Hunkin and Andrew Hobbs run through some of the key attachments farmers need to manage the varied workload on a farm
Our Top Tractor Attachments: We look back at some favourites
Tractor attachments are a farmer’s best friend. When you’ve got two that work together well, there isn’t a task too hard – and some can be downright fun to complete. Farms & Farm
Machinery has compiled a list of some of our favourites from recent reviews – a useful guide for you to find the next essential attachment to help you lighten your workload.
FRONT END LOADER
It may be the most valuable tractor attachment you’ll ever buy. If you’re looking to get things done, then the front-end loader is probably the way to go, allowing you to scoop, move, handle and impale a range of materials around your property.
One of our favourite front end loaders over the years was the Quicke Versa X-36 by Quicke.
Quicke was one of the first companies to delve into the front end loader market, and has since built a reputation for building quality loaders.
The Versa-X range is a compact and budget conscious loader option compared to its big brother, the Q-Series, which is a bigger, stronger unit designed for higher horsepower tractors.
However, despite its budget price tag, reviewer Tom Dickson was left impressed with the way the loader’s hydraulics were assembled, its SoftDrive suspension and adjustable implement indicator.
Designed for the 50-80hp (37-51kW) tractor range, the Versa X-36 front end loader offers fantastic vision from the tractor, a 2100kg lifting force and a 3.4m lift height at the pivot point.
When they’re put to work well, the backhoe loader is a serious farm workhorse, helping with digging, trenching and stump removal, in addition to a scattering of other odd-jobs.
A self-confessed excavator tragic, our man Ron Horner isn’t a huge fan of backhoes, but even he had some admiration for two older models he encountered recently.
In May he tracked down a Case 360b built between 40 and 50 years ago and which is still operating today, providing some fantastic insights into a machine he says was very popular back in the day.
Based on an English-made three-cylinder diesel Case/David Brown 885 tractor, the Case 360b has a CE/backhoe loader attached to convert it into a J. I. Case 360B backhoe.
The operation leaver that controls the boom, dipper and bucket is located on the floor, while the support legs are easily accessed on the operator panel to the right of the controls, and the hand throttle on left side of steering wheel. This provides constant throttle to the backhoe operation.
“The old Case has plenty of dipper, boom and bucket arm slap in it, but after all, it is a farm tractor and it continues to serve its purpose quite well,” Horner says.
Back in December last year, Horner had similar things to say about the New Holland LB90B, which runs the new four-cylinder turbo-charged direct-ignition, CNH Tier 3A mechanical engine pushing out 72kW (97hp) of power at 2,200rpm.
The hydraulics are fed by two gear-type load-sensing pumps running at 160L/min at 210 bar to ensure no hydraulic fade when operating multiple actions. It has ample supply up its sleeve with 118 litres in the system and another 40 litres in the tank.
Overall, the machine, which can dig to 5.75m, weighs in at about 8.35 tonnes and sits at just under 3m in height so you would not be getting it on a few tippers to haul around.
“In this configuration and with the innovative and creative modifications and attachments on offer, here this tractor could find its calling in a multitude of applications and conditions,” Horner says.
Many farmers hang onto old grader blades for years and years – saving themselves time and money by doing their own earthworks or track maintenance.
But as the size of farms is increasing, so must the equipment, and larger grader blades are becoming more appealing to new buyers.
Manufactured in Denmark but designed for Australian properties, Fransgard GT 300 AUS DKH grader blades range from 2m to 3.5m, with headstocks rated up to 200hp (149.1kW) on the larger models.
When Farm Trader’s Mark Fouhy tested the blades on the back of a McCormick 125 D Max earlier this year he found them to be versatile and easily manoeuvrable, with the horizontal pitch of the blade able to be controlled by a hydraulic ram mounted between the blade and the 400/60-15.5 tyres.
The blades are some of the heaviest on the market, made of twin box section steel and weighing in at around 1,200kg – with 700mm blades allowing a good volume of material to be shifted on Fransgard’s larger heavy-duty models.
But a range of options is available, including a rubber blade option which may appeal to dairy farmers with large feed pads, wanting to clean them without using massive amounts of water.
Having holes pre-drilled for blade extensions of 250mm to allow use as a box type scraper for levelling out ground also adds to their versatility.
While fertiliser spreaders are not a new piece of equipment, precision agriculture technologies are almost reinventing them, generating more and more useful information through sensors and GPS systems included in the most recent models.
The Bredal F8 fertiliser spreader, kitted out with a Topcon
X30 GPS system and CropSpec sensors for real-time nitrogen reporting, showcased what these technologies could do reviewer Jaiden Drought found last year.
Weighing 2,800kg and measuring 6.6m-long, the F8 spreads fertiliser with high precision over large working widths – with its optional H discs able to spread urea, potash and ammonium sulphate up to 36m – while trailing behind a tractor.
Each side of the spreader uses a separate belt to deliver the correct amount of fertiliser using an integrated tilt sensor on which its 5,700-litre capacity bin sits to dispense the pre-programmed amount whether it is on a field border, going up a hill or simply turning a corner.
Automatic flow correction built into the software monitoring the fertiliser chutes self-adjusts to a programmed output amount, which can be used in conjunction with Topcon’s realtime nitrogen sensor CropSpec that maps projected nitrogen needs based on a plant’s chlorophyll content.
These enable a driver to set the machine to a variable-rate spread as the nitrogen levels are determined in real time – so if an average needs to be 150kg spread per hectare, the poorerperforming parts will get 200kg/ha and the more fertile parts will get 100kg/ha.
Yield mapping in the combines has shown this is a simple way of increasing total paddock yield – all from exactly the same amount of fertiliser as conventional spreading techniques.
Not every farmer needs a rotary hoe – but we believe that farmers with any form of crop should have one on hand to tickle that soil.
Brent Lilley from Farm Trader in New Zealand tested out one of the best in the business, the Celli Tiger 280 DD from Farmgard.
Rated at 360hp (268kW) in the main gearbox, this rigid attachment is built to handle some serious grunt.
Underneath the machine, the rotors use L-shaped blades that are bolted onto flanges on the cross shafts. With 90 blades across the 4m width, these can work down to a depth of around 300mm to give a fine bed of tilth, which is quite impressive.
You can also bet your money that the Celli Tiger will stay on the ground as it weighs in at about two tonnes.
A combination of simplicity, price, massive gearboxes and a self-contained oil system make this rotary hoe one to look into.
Now this is a freaking cool bit of machinery that we got our hands on over in New Zealand. At first glance it looks like your tractor has grown a set of teeth… front and back.
But in fact, it’s the Rata Versatile Grapple which was being used by a farmer to fill in sink holes around his property.
Earthquakes in that region had shifted large limestone boulders, so the farmer had his tractor fitted with a Trima loader and two Rata Versatile Grapples on the front and rear to shift the rocks.
Specs wise, the front and rear grapples are almost identical. One is 1.6m wide and the other is a touch wider at 1.8m. It offers more than 90 degrees of crowd on rear grapple, while its three-point linkage to Euro hitch allows other attachments to be used on the rear.
The grapples are constructed with 400-grade high-tensile steel. “Using the Deutz-Fahr 5120 to carry rocks front and rear not only doubles the work rate but also makes the tractor more balanced and stable on the hills, with weight on the front and rear rather than just the front,” Lilley says.
While an unconventional attachment, the Rata Grapple is really a Swiss army knife-type attachment.
Paddock management is a pretty common practice for farmers. If you don’t have a slasher or mower, then get one.
The reasons being; you make your property look tidy as well as managing weeds.
But, the single most important reason to manage your paddocks is for fire prevention. Many councils do require property owners to maintain a five-metre firebreak along fence lines, but a thorough slash of your paddocks does reduce that dry grass fire fuel.
This featured mower by Fieldmaster is a big bugger though, built with heavy duty 5mm steel skins and reinforced under the deck for extra strength, Lilley says.
Tested behind a 90hp (67kW) New Holland, the Fieldmaster Euro GMM 300 Multi-cut Gearmower is sure to get the job done.
It uses a straight, flat 100mm by 10mm thick blade in the centre, with two smaller 60mm by 100mm blades above and below which bolt onto the main blade, creating a ‘Y’ shape, which Fieldmaster calls the triple-stack blades.
The result is the material being cut three times (finely chopping and mulching the grass).
Spec wise, the Fieldmaster should be hooked up to a tractor in the 70–130hp (52–97kW) range. Its dimensions are 3m wide by 1.6m long, while its power take-off (PTO) speed is between 540 and 1,000rpm.
We couldn’t help ourselves here. While a wood chipper is not normally high on a livestock or broadacre cropping farmer’s list of must-haves, this unconventional tractor attachment can be of great use for tree farms, orchards and vineyards – or any place where burning waste timber is frowned upon.
Converting waste timber and cuttings into a product with value, woodchips can be used as mulch or soft flooring – or sold to generate a new income stream.
When Dickson trialled Wallenstein’s BX102R feed chipper last year he was impressed with how it made light work of the 10inch diameter (25cm) logs he fed it, while it was mounted on the back of a 110hp (82kW) Farmtrac tractor – you’ll need a tractor with a power output of between 65hp and 150hp (48–112kW) to power it.
That tractor will also need at least one set of hydraulic remotes able to deliver between 15-31L/min of hydraulic oil to drive the feed rollers and a 1000/540 rear PTO drive to turn the 92cm, 193kg chipping rotor.
Once it’s spinning, however, the four-blade rotor acts as a flywheel and does most of the work in maintaining momentum.
The rotor can easily be accessed for cleaning and working on the blades by undoing a bolt and lifting the top half of the protective rotor housing. There is also a safety locking pin to prevent the rotor moving while cleaning and maintenance is being carried out.
A hinged door under the rotor feeder allows any accumulation of debris to be cleaned out as well – there is not much that can go wrong with it so long as you keep the grease up on the bearings and regularly sharpen the blades.
With clever design features, the Rata Versatile Grapple proves its strengths on the farm
1. Measuring up to 3.5m, FransgardGT 300 AUS DKH grader blades are getting longer to meet demand2. Well over 40 years old, the Case 360b stillhas the goods3. The Bredal F8 fertiliser spreader uses precision technology to spread fertiliser where needed and with a much higher degree of accuracy4. The Bredal R8’s door scale opens in 20mm increments, helping to correctly set the floor speed in detail
5. Farmgard’s Celli Tiger 280DD Rotary Hoeis one of the best in the business6. We loved Quicke’s Versa-X loader, catering to the more budget conscious crowd7. The Fieldmaster Euro GMM 300 Multi-cut Gearmower uses three blades to finely chop and mulch the grass and weeds it mows8. The Wallenstein’s BX102R feed chipper isan easy-to-clean addition to the farm