A Vario transmission and the potential for all tractors to be connected via the latest telematics technology are just two of the reasons that one of the largest wine producers in the UK has equipped its machinery fleet with eight Fendt 200 series tractors.

Silverhand Estate, one of the largest vineyards in the UK with 230ha of vines in the ground, has run Fendt 200 series tractors for around four years.

Machinery manager Bruce Osborne said there is nothing else on the market at this size that can offer the smoothness of drive compared to a Vario transmission.

“Our vines are planted on some steep hills, which makes some of the tractor work quite awkward and requires experienced operators and smooth movements to prevent accidents. I’m a firm believer that if we had a jerky drive engagement from changing gear via a clutch, our operators wouldn’t feel as comfortable turning on the steep headlands as they do with the Vario transmission,” said Bruce.

A quartet of newer 210V and 210F tractors arrived this year and were purchased through NP Seymour of Cranbrook, Kent, who provide backup to the farm when required.

One of the benefits of the Vario transmission is that Bruce can set the forward speed independently of the pto rpm via the TMS, which allows tasks to be completed at a comfortable speed.

“With the TMS, the tractors will have the power required while reducing engine revs to keep fuel use to a minimum. This is noticeable as the 200 series tractors are compact, so the fuel tanks aren’t huge. Every extra saving we can make helps us go a little further.”

All the tractors are Profi spec, with four 210 models benefiting from additional front axle suspension and the Fendt One user interface.

The modern workstation has won a lot of praise from operators at Silverhand Estate, who feel that they would struggle to go back to the old tractors. Bruce said the new interface has made his life easier when setting up machines for operators with limited experience.

“We have a variety of operators, from those with decades of experience driving tractors to some that have only driven them a handful of times. The Fendt One system allows me to easily set up an implement on a tractor, so it only requires two buttons to start and stop the operation. This has reduced the time it takes me to train operators to do the job, and, running a fleet that is the same, means the controls in each tractor are familiar to them,” he explained.

Bruce also said that the newer models are easier to maintain, as the relocation of ancillary parts has improved access. “The newer models are better laid out, with easier access to regular maintenance points. Fendt has thought about it from an operator’s point of view – the air conditioning unit has been relocated to the engine bay for easy servicing.”

Due to the continual planting of new vines, the workload for the tractors on an organic vineyard of this scale is growing considerably and there are plans to implement a smart vineyard.

The four older 209V tractors that are still in the fleet are due for replacement soon, and they are likely to have the Profi Plus specification and carry a front linkage to carry out two jobs at once.

“When we are mowing and inter-row weeding, these jobs can be done in one pass with a front linkage to maximise efficiencies and cut down on the number of passes we make. We also want to introduce GPS guidance for increased accuracy, as negotiating tight rows for over 12 hours a day requires a lot of operator concentration.

To be a fully connected farm, the data from each machine will feedback into a central platform via Fendt One’s off-board technology, which is why we are looking at Profi Plus. I will also be able to send jobs directly to operators in the field and recording completed works will be much easier.”

Bruce believes that Fendt tractors offer him the best blend of reliability and increased functionality across a varied and growing workload, and helps his operators feel comfortable, no matter their experience.

For more information on the Fendt 200 series tractors, as well as the other vineyard machinery and equipment NP Seymour offers, please phone the office on 01580 712200 or email sales@npseymour.co.uk