J.O. Straughan & Co Ltd chooses tyres over tracks for new 500 hp tractor

Northumberland-based J.O. Straughan & Co Ltd has taken delivery of what is believed to be the biggest-wheeled agricultural tractor operating in the north east of England, specifying its new range-topping Fendt 1050 Vario on Michelin AxioBib IF 900/65 R46 and IF 710/60 R38 tyres.

The 500 hp Vario replaces a 330 hp Challenger, and will be used between March and June for drilling 2,500 acres of vining peas with an 8m Vaderstad Rapid drill, in the Scottish Borders. Between August and October, the focus switches to primary cultivation, as well as drilling, with most work carried out using both a Sumo Trio and a Great Plains SL cultivator.

Operations Manager David Dickinson said he specified a machine with tyres over tracks due to significant advances in tyre technology since they’d bought the Challenger nine years ago.

He says: “These new Michelin tyres are on a par for traction with the best track systems available, even on very wet days. And if you are doing a lot of road work, they are in a different league altogether when it comes to handling and ride comfort.”

Commenting on the decision to specify Michelin tyres, Straughan adds: “We had a choice of tyre manufacturers, but we’ve always favoured Michelin. It’s not just the tyres we’re buying, but access to the technical knowledge and support of our local Michelin account manager, Ian Whitwell. Before we put the new tractor into service, he was on-site weighing the machine to help us get the ballast, balance and pressures set up perfectly.

“We’ll keep the Fendt 1050 Vario for about 10 years, so getting the set-up right from day one is critical. We find having direct access to manufacturer support is crucial, particularly with our bigger machines.”

Measuring 2.32m high by 0.9m wide, the AxioBib IF 900/65 R46 fitments are the largest tractor tyres manufactured by Michelin. They offer a per-tyre load capacity of 10,600 kg and are rated for a maximum speed of up to 65 km/h. Manufactured with Michelin Ultraflex technology, they can operate at pressures as low as 0.8 bar, enabling farmers to benefit from the biggest possible footprint without compacting the soil.

They also incorporate smart design features including deep lugs and a wide tread, which reduce wheel slip and help to make full use of the tractor’s power. The tyres also feature a reinforced bead construction, which can absorb the highest forces while keeping the tyre fixed on the rim. This helps the Fendt 1050 Vario to transmit all its engine torque without harming the soil.

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