After going digital in an unprecedented year, Tractor of the Year has announced the winners for 2021.
Even in a competition as forward-thinking as Tractor of the Year (ToTY), few could have predicted how reliant we would be on digital solutions over the last twelve months. For the first time, the international jury (27 members from 25 European countries) was unable to meet for its ‘Let the Challenge Begin…’ event, nor could we judge the tractors as a group.
Instead, using video calling and a brand new ToTY website, manufacturers supplied details and video footage, and jury members, where possible, arranged private ride and drive experiences to judge the competitors. With no trade shows on hand to host the award ceremony, we then came together in a special livestream to announce the winners at the end of last year.
Lucia Salmaso, CEO of BKT Europe, the competition’s sponsor, said that Tractor of the Year 2021 had been an incredibly special experience despite the challenges. “ToTY highlights the best ideas from the best tractor manufacturers. ToTY is synonymous with innovation. It looks to the future and sets trends. BKT is proud to sponsor and take part in such an extraordinary event, which is the only one of its kind.”
Across the four categories, AGCO had a successful year, with each key brand taking home a prize. Claas was announced to be the winner of the Sustainable ToTY award, which in its second year has become far more prevalent as it celebrates innovation, digital solutions, and new methods of working for a more sustainable industry.
And the winners are…
- Tractor of The Year: Massey Ferguson 8 S.265
- Best of Specialized: Fendt 211 V Vario
- Best Utility: Valtra G 135
- Sustainable TOTY: Claas Axion 960 CEMOS
As the UK judge, Farm Contractor & Large Scale Farmer is proud to bring you coverage of the winners and look forward to covering this year’s event, in whatever form it may be.
Best of Specialized
Combining a compact design with technology brought down from the rest of the Fendt range, the 211 V Vario machine offers 114hp, put to the ground through the proven Vario stepless transmission. It features the DynamicPerformance boost system, where an additional 10hp is intelligently distributed between components ensuring that the base 114hp is always available.
Handling the intensive implements used in vineyards and orchards, the 211 V Vario can be specified with up to eight spool valves, with a possible 119 litre per minute load sensing pump. At the rear, the lift capacity is an impressive 3,134kg, complemented by an optional 2,540kg capacity front hitch.
Key features highlighted by Fendt include a 58-degree steering angle with VarioActive control to achieve full steering lock in just one turn. The front axle also features self-levelling suspension, with 80mm of movement and anti-roll control for safe operation even on slopes.
A full package of guidance technology has been made available on the machine, as well Fendt Task Doc documentation and headland management. This can be utilised with the FendtONE platform, which connects the tractor to the office with intuitive and uniform software and terminal layouts.
Christoph Gröblinghoff, Chairman of the AGCO/Fendt Board of Management, said following the awards ceremony: “The smallest Fendt tractor series is just as important to us as the largest. The specialist tractor Fendt 200 V Vario challenges our engineers because it combines intelligent technology like FendtONE with a very compact design and a lot of comfort. I am delighted that the Fendt 211 V Vario has received this award from an international and independent jury of experts”.
Slotting between the established A and N machines, the new Valtra G Series has been developed to offer a stepping stone for operators who want a greater level of advancement, without jumping up to a larger machine. The Versu specification awarded the Best Utility comes complete the SmartTouch terminal and control lever, which brings smartphone functionality to the touchscreen with swipe and tap operation, clear menu layouts and visual prompts.
Jumping into the cab on a wet January morning, the first you notice about the G135 is the sloping bonnet which, when combined with the large windscreen, offers excellent visibility around the front wheels and down to the front linkage. The windscreen curves and meets a high visibility roof window, allowing you to see an equipped loader even at full height.
The neat layout of the SmartTouch control centre makes it easy to adjust almost any function of the tractor, be it the steering ratio (lock-to-lock can be reduced to one turn of the wheel), the automatic transmission functions, front suspension, and work lights – including switch the roof lights when a front implement is equipped. In addition to the main terminal, a second SmartTouch Extend screen can be specified, with the same ease of use, allowing operators to have several pages in sight at once.
When a loader is attached you can activate the advanced power lift with one push of the lever. This automatically increases the engine rpm, making it easy to lift, crowd and run the attachment simultaneously. Turning on the dampening system for the loader allows you to take full advantage of the 110-litre hydraulic flow and the advanced power lift, moving materials quickly and easily.
Looking at the broad technical details, the G135 is fitted with an AGCO Power engine, offering 135hp and boosting to 145hp, as well as supplying up to 560Nm of torque. This makes it suitable for a wide range of operations, from farmyard work all the way up to cultivations and haulage. It’s combined with the 24×24 powershift transmission, which can be operated manually or automatically and features brake-to-neutral.
Driving and operating the machine feels intuitive and the SmartTouch system is incredibly simple to use. It provides so much control over the different tractor functions, without sending the operator through endless menus. Valtra state that you are only a maximum of three clicks away from the desired setting, with a tactile home screen button to take you right back to the start. An additional neat feature is that profiles from other SmartTouch machines can be easily transferred to the G Series the tractor can be quickly setup for every implement and operator on the farm.
The judges highlighted the versatility of the machine, as well as the introduction of high specification technology in a utility tractor. Valtra’s options list has always been extensive, especially when you consider the Unlimited Studio, so the G Series can be made as simple or as complex as the customer requires. This flexibility makes it an ideal addition to the range and an exciting start to the company’s 5th Generation.
Tractor of the Year
The Massey Ferguson 8S series has continued to cause a stir since a prototype version was shown at Agritechnica 2019. It’s unique design, incorporating colour palettes from the company’s history, and introducing the Protect-U design which comprises a 24cm gap between the engine bay and the cabin to reduce noise, heat and vibration levels.
The winning 8S.265 Dyna E-Power Exclusive model, provides 265hp with an added 20hp boost from the Engine Power Management system. This is put to the ground via the Dyna E-Power dual clutch transmission, combining CVT automation with the efficiency of a semi-powershift gearbox. The company states that this combination can reduce power losses by up to 26% and fuel consumption by 5%.
When we had the opportunity to drive the 8S.265 at the Chandlers depot in Lutterworth, the first thing that stood was how much work had gone into the cabin. It’s hard to argue with Massey’s claim that it is one of the quietest on the market, reportedly just 68dB, and the layout of the displays and controls means that pretty much everything is in your eyeline.
The Datatronic 5 terminal is easy to navigate and far more pictorial than earlier editions. There’s also the new MF vDisplay on the right-hand pillar. This replaces the dashboard, but you soon get used to its position and can see all the information because the steering wheel is never in the way.
We were impressed with how easy it was to make adjustments in the terminal and how quickly we could get to grips with it. Even if this were your first tractor with this sort of technology, it would not take many minutes to set up the machine to your liking.
Alongside these are the new armrest and Multipad lever, with customisable buttons to place specific functions at your fingertips.
Taking the 8S for a spin, it was clear how much work had gone into the cab design. Despite the tractor’s size, visibility was excellent. The narrow bonnet made it easy to see right down to the front linkage and while you’re sat very high up, the rear camera automatically comes on the screen when you are reversing, making hooking up implements a breeze.
It also feels remarkably manoeuvrable. You can adjust the steering ratio for one turn lock-to-lock for quick headland turns, but even without this, the 8S provides a very good turning circle. The transmission is responsive and here there also plenty of adjustment options to match the operation at hand. Combine this with engine memory settings and two cruise control settings, the tractor is as comfortable on the road as it is in the field.
This feels like a culmination of Massey’s long history. From being the first company to offer an in-cab terminal, to offering this level of functionality, combined with the right transmission and power units. The 8S represents a new generation of Massey tractors and is a deserving winner of the Tractor of the Year award.
“Everyone at Massey Ferguson is overjoyed to receive the ultimate honour of Tractor of the Year 2021,” said Thierry Lhotte, vice president & managing director of Massey Ferguson, Europe & Middle East. “With the MF 8S Series, we set out to define a new era, not just for Massey Ferguson, but also for tractor design and, of course, our customers.
“This prestigious award recognises how Massey Ferguson is defining a new era in straightforward and dependable tractor design. At the same time, we are delivering an enhanced user experience and providing our customers with the benefits of connectivity and smart farming technology for a sustainable future.”