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Big smiles after New Holland T9.670 tractor arrives

Shayne Smith checks out the driver's seat where he will be spending plenty of time in the next few weeks.

“It’s been an anxious wait I suppose and it (new tractor) took a bit longer than we expected to get here, but it’s here now and hopefully we’ll be able to put it to work tomorrow.”

That was the relieved reaction of Shayne Smith, Dongolocking, to the arrival last week of the big 453kW, four-wheel-drive, articulated New Holland T9.670 tractor he and his brothers had ordered during seeding last year.

“Obviously it’s a good day when you see it come in the driveway,” Mr Smith said, referring to the McIntosh & Son Kenworth prime mover and quad-axle machinery float with his new tractor on it.

Mr Smith, who farms with wife Clare and his brother Lee and Lee’s wife Michelle at Dongolocking and with another brother Troy and Troy’s wife Carly on a nearby property east of Narrogin, had ordered the new tractor just weeks before the gearbox failed in their 2012 Steiger 550 tractor at the end of last year’s seeding.

McIntosh & Son, Katanning, where they ordered the tractor and the new 18-metre Seed Storm 18-300 air drill seeder bar which was delivered a fortnight before the tractor, loaned the Smiths a tractor so they could start this year’s seeding program.

Their new one had not arrived in Australia in time for the expected February delivery.

The Smiths’ tractor was one of 42 ordered from the manufacturer by McIntosh & Son’s Southern Group in February last year. They are just starting to arrive now.

Aware the ordered tractors might not arrive in time for seeding this year, McIntosh & Son Southern Group dealerships of Katanning, Albany, Esperance and Kulin made a strategic decision several months ago to retain some of the larger trade-in tractors that could be used as temporary replacements for the new ones on order.

The Smiths were not the only farmers waiting on tractors who were loaned machines by McIntosh & Son to enable them to put this year’s crops in.

Brothers Shayne and Lee Smith (right), Dongolocking, with the new tractor they have waited 12 months for and McIntosh & Son, Katanning, technician Isaac Sugg (left) and first-year trainee Ronan Bouquet.

On delivery day McIntosh & Son, Katanning, technician Isacc Sugg and first-year trainee Ronan Bouquet turned up at the Smith farm an hour or more ahead of the new tractor.

Their job was to disconnect the Versatile 620 Delta Track loaner from the Ausplow Multi-stream air cart and new seeder bar rig and to remove wiring harnesses for cameras and other air cart and seeder bar controls so they could be transferred to the new tractor.

The Versatile and new seeder bar had been used to sow 1500 hectares of canola and with some of it already out of the ground, Mr Smith was busy spraying insecticide when his new tractor arrived.

By the time he had emptied the tank on the sprayer and returned to the yard, the tractor had been unloaded and positioned in front of the air cart ready to be hooked up and the Versatile was loaded on the float to go back to McIntosh & Son.

With a 7000ha cropping program to complete, the new tractor will go straight to work, Mr Smith said.

“This year it’s probably a bit light on (for rain) compared to some areas, but fingers crossed there’s a bit more around the corner. We were quite fortunate (last year), we had a good production year and prices were good – it got a little bit wet through the middle, but all in all, it was good,” Mr Smith said.

“But this year’s another matter, we’ve only had between 38 to 59 millimetres for the year – depending on where you go on the farm – it’s not huge but never mind. We’ve got a little bit of crop out of the ground already, but on some of the heavier soils it’s struggling a little bit.”

“It looks like there’ll be a bit of a system (this) week so if that shapes up, we’ll look at getting the rest of it (canola) in and then it’ll be the cereals – wheat, barley, oats, with some lupins, beans and vetch too. Realistically, I’d say we’ll start on the cereals (this) week, all going well.”

“We have to be a bit mindful of the frosts around here, but if the rain comes we’ll be in a nice little window.”

Mr Smith said his family’s experience with the long lead times for ordering new farm equipment had highlighted one of the problems farmers now faced.

“Last year was probably our best year ever, to be quite honest,” Mr Smith said.

“(But) in reality, we put the orders in (for tractor and seeder bar) last year before we knew what the crop was. “While we had good moisture at seeding, that’s no guarantee it’s all going to go right. Unfortunately, with the lead times, that call had to be made and we had to stick with it."

“With the tractor, our hand was forced a little bit – we could have fixed it I suppose, but it had done moderate hours and it was probably time to update it – with a reasonable sized cropping program you’re putting a fair bit of pressure on the machine. We were having ongoing maintenance issues with the old (seeder) bar so it was time to pull the trigger on that.”

Mr Smith said the new tractor “will be around for a while” and could eventually be retained as a second tractor once it was replaced as the main workhorse.

“We’ve actually got a PTO on this one, so it potentially gives us a few more options later on, with greater flexibility for chaser bins etcetera and as a general tractor,” he said.

“This year has shown how handy it can be having a second big tractor.”

View New Holland stock at your local McIntosh & Son dealer today.