The company’s much anticipated articulated tracked tractors are expected to reach producers next year
DES MOINES, Iowa — It finally, officially exists. Farmers will soon have access to a big, green, four-track drive tractor.
Speculation about a high-horsepower, articulated, tracked tractor from Deere has been around since Case IH started producing its Quadtrac in 1996.
Third-party providers such as ATI and Soucy have been mounting tracks on Deere four-wheel-drive tractors for years, but the 9RX series was designed from the ground up to be a tracked unit.
The tractor, built in Waterloo, Iowa, and its 9 series siblings the 9R wheeled tractor and 9RT two-track, have many parts in common but not when it comes to the undercarriage and frame.
Colin MacDonald of Deere, originally from Saskatchewan, said the new tractors were designed for large, broad acre grain farms, such as those found in Western Canada.
“It was created to meet the needs of producers pulling large air-seeding rigs and for rapid, vertical tillage,” said MacDonald, the 9RX product manager.
“The 9RT can provide traction but is best in a straight line pull and in smoother field conditions. The tractor is meant for more varied conditions and for large loads,” he said.
“The new undercarriage was designed to get all that power to the ground, even when making tight turns around a pothole or irregular field, and do it with as little soil compaction as possible,” he said during the international debut of the new machines in Des Moines last week.
Steve Tomtene of Birch Hills, Sask., confirmed the machine’s ability to navigate difficult, soft fields without significant compaction problems at seeding.
Tomtene’s seed farm tested the new tractor design this past spring.
“We get some issues with compaction and seedling emergence problems in tire tracks with the tire tractors,” he said.
“With the RX, we didn’t see them at all.”
MacDonald said combining the new Commandview 3 cab mounted to the tractor with four shock absorbers, a pair of parallel-link arms and a sway-bar system removes the roughness that is normally associated with tracked tractors.
The new RXs are available in four models: 470, 520, 570 and 620 h.p. The first two are powered by 13.5 litre Deere engines, while the last two get Cummins QSX 15 litre power plants. All four share the same chassis and e18 powershift transmission.
Large drive sprockets and lugs are responsible for putting power to the ground. The mid-rollers are in pairs to avoid having one directly below the axles. They transmit upward bumps vertically and require fluid checks only every 1,500 hours.
The track design is wider, fore and aft, than most four-track units, which spreads the load over a larger ground surface. The track belts are 20 percent longer than competitor’s models and have more lug teeth. As a result, they will wear 20 percent less, said MacDonald.
The Camso, formerly Camoplast, Duradrive 3500 or 6500 rubber tracks ,provide traction in 30 or 36 inch widths.
One of the options available on the machines is the Active Command Steering system.
First made available on the 9R tractors last year, it adjusts the number of steering wheel rotations needed to steer the tractor, depending on speed. It allows the operator to make fine adjustments to direction in the field under load and then have greater control at higher speeds during transport.
Tomtene said the machine was stable during transport.
“And you didn’t get that bouncy, out-of-control feeling you can experience with those big tires.”
MacDonald said the tractor can power multi-cart air seeding systems, because of a standard 58 and optional 115 gallon per minute hydraulic system and up to eight circuits, four or six which are factory installed.
The new front axle Hydra-Cushion tractor suspension, which was introduced last year as an option on the 9R tractors, is optional on the 570 h.p. version and standard on the 620 model.
The two smaller models rely on in-board planetary final drives, while the two larger ones add a double reduction axle for greater load handling.
The smaller units carry 310 gallon fuel tanks, while the bigger ones get 400 units. All share a 22-gallon diesel exhaust fluid tank.
“Those 400 gallon tanks will keep a producer in the field for just about any day’s length without refueling,” said MacDonald.
Suggested prices for the machines range from US$497,645 for the 9470RX, $523,359 for the 9520RX, $549,072 for the 9570RX and $574,780 for the top end 9620RX. These prices are for base models.
There are a lot of things that go into pricing, as farmers know, so producers should talk to their own dealers to find out what they will do. Of course, Canadian dollars, right now, are higher,” Barry Nelson of Deere said during the debut, ahead of the pricing announcement.