Soil compaction is being reduced on a Bedfordshire farm which has invested in three identical John Deere 6250R tractors equipped with the latest Michelin AxioBib 2 VF tyres.
Operating efficiency has improved across some 2425ha of predominantly heavy land of mostly arable cropping at Bedfordia Farms, Milton Ernest. The business contract farms 1400ha of arable crops near Leicester.
Standardising the fleet has also improved and efficiency and to lessen the peak labour requirement, says assistant arable manager JJ Ibbett. With other machinery updated at the same time, seven tractors were replaced by four more versatile machines.
Large, high-horsepower John Deere tractors have been used for more than 30 years. Supplied by local dealer P Tuckwell, the new arrivals included a 6155R and the three 6250R models, which have been key to the tractor fleet changes.
The decision to have 6250Rs was based on their year-round suitability for almost any task, matched with full-time operators and working a large number of hours. Their role includes primary and secondary cultivations, ploughing, corn carting, muck spreading, drilling and hedgecutting.
“Our previous 6210R was versatile, but couldn’t do enough of the key tasks,” says Mr Ibbett. “We also have a 7310R which suits heavier cultivations and drilling, but it’s bigger than necessary for other work.”
Reviewing operating hours across the fleet showed that tractors under 230hp worked the most. The logical option was the 6250R with up to 275hp and enough traction for 80% of the work. Having three identical models meant they would be busy throughout the year.
Fitting 650/85R38 and 600/70R30 Michelin AxioBib 2 tyres with VF technology further improved tractor performance. Michelin says they can operate at 40% less pressure than standard tyres – achieving 28-35% more traction, 7-10% more productivity and up to 4% extra yield from better soil protection.
Local John Deere tyre and soil protection specialist David Purdy believes the tyre upgrade will provide multiple benefits.
“Research indicates that soil damage can be substantially reduced by lowering axle weights to below six tonnes and getting tyre pressures down to single digits. The 6250R with AxioBib 2 VF tyres achieves both of these targets, not to mention the potential for fuel savings.”
The three 6250Rs that Tuckwell delivered to Bedfordia were the first fitted with the new tyres in the UK and, after weighing the tractors and implements, Michelin calculated the required ballasting with inflation to 9psi for all expected operations.
“We would definitely choose them again,” says Mr Ibbett. “These are super flexible tractors, but the tyres provide the grip needed for larger implements such as our three 8m Horsch and Vaderstad drills, and 6m secondary cultivators.”
Although 9psi is suitable for transport too, Michelin suggests inflation pressures up to 6psi higher for intensive road use do optimise ride quality and improve wear characteristics. For longer periods and higher speeds, operation at 15psi improves ride quality and the tractors feel more stable.
“We would like to see central tyre inflation added to the John Deere options list for even better results from these tractors and tyres,” says Mr Ibbett.
Previously, a 12-furrow trailed plough was pulled by a 9630 articulated tractor. But the 6250R copes well with a seven-furrow semi-mounted unit. “Much of our work is at the top end of the 6250Rs’ abilities, but they perform well and the operators like them,” says Mr Ibbett.
“We expect that over time our soils will benefit from the changes made, specifically with the reduced machinery weight and ground pressure leading to less compaction at depth. In turn this should result in a reduction in power requirements and potential changes in our cultivation strategy.
“We still have two 300hp tractors available when extra power is needed, and we will monitor each season to learn what works best and what is right for us.”