Can a robot be used to clear snow from an airstrip? Yes, it can, as demonstrated by tractor specialist Valtra with Nokian Tyres and three other Finnish companies.
The McDonalds milk 700 Saanen goats and run a Simmental and Charolais beef stud.
A lot of harvesting is required for the dairy goats. So on their 90ha they regularly sow 50ha of pasture and lucerne from August to May to feed them. The goats prefer shorter grass so the lucerne is cut every month. Grass silage is cut more often and shorter.
Their new Valtra T194 Versu, rated at 190hp and boosting to 210hp, with front linkage now allows the McDonalds to run a front mower/conditioner with a similar rear unit.
A stand-out feature for Shane is the tractor’s 7.4L AGCO Power engine that appears extremely fuel efficient.
“We filled it up when it arrived then our son Jacan used it for 10 days. I got in and asked him when he’d filled it and he hadn’t. The cost of running it is minimal.”
Fitted with a loader, the Valtra is also used to load or shift bales, often on a trailer to the farm’s various platforms and lease blocks.
They make the most of the machine’s 50km/h road speed on the 11km journey, and the transmission with four ranges, five speeds and a five-step powershift system that can be operated manually or auto.
They ordered the tractor with larger tyres – 710s on the rear and 600s up front. Their larger footprint suits Taranaki’s wet weather and McDonald finds they have more pulling power in difficult conditions.
He also applauds the touchscreen monitor.
“It’s easier to use than an I-phone,” he says. It can store settings such as engine and transport speed, linkage settings for the mowers and shift positions for automated gear changes.
Specified with a 15L/min hydraulic system, the Valtra has six hydraulic valves. Dependent on the task at hand it can be configured to operate through the tractor’s joystick or the conventional levers, while also offering different flow rates or timers.
The cab has a good stereo, air conditioning and Bluetooth connectivity and is comfortable and quiet. A practical feature is the windscreen wipers that keep the whole window clean, making operation easier particularly with lateral visibility.
The cab is very comfortable and quiet, with lots of user friendly functions like the seat automatically calibrating for the operator’s weight.