Filling the narrowest gap in the tractor market

Buyers of orchard and vineyard tractors have a disappointingly limited range from which to choose. Manufacturers, it seems, have not found this an easy segment to supply. But Valtra now offers a solution that appears to be economically sustainable, writes Stehan Cloete.

Filling the narrowest gap in the tractor market
Valtra’s standard- configuration A2R tractor shares many components with the narrow- configuration A3F tractor, which makes continued production of the specialised A3F-series more viable. Photo: Valtra
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Valtrac, the South African distributor of Valtra tractors, recently introduced the Valtra A2R-series standard-format tractor and the A3F-series narrow-configuration tractor. This article focuses on the A3F, but the A2R plays a key role in the existence of its smaller sibling, as we shall see.

The A2R is the ideal general workhorse, with the versatility to accomplish anything from headland maintenance to demanding soil preparation work and planting. This standard-configuration tractor has all the equipment to cover a multitude of farming tasks, and provides ample space for ballasting.

A specific role
The A3F, by contrast, is a narrow-configuration, specialist tractor designed for orchard- and vineyard-related tasks.

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This type of tractor is sometimes a unique machine in a manufacturer’s line-up, and when volumes do not reach a certain number, the manufacturer may not deem it worthwhile to a support the model in the long run.

This is where the A2R may benefit the A3F: they share most of their components. The combined sales volumes of the standard-format A2R and the A3F should be substantial, giving the buyer of an A3F peace of mind.

Engine
The A3F’s AGCO Power, three-cylinder, turbo-intercooled, common-rail engine comes in a 63kW and 71kW specification, the latter being one of the most powerful in this segment. To meet required emission standards, AGCO uses a no-maintenance gas recirculation system.

Although the machine seems fairly basic elsewhere, its designers have not skimped on electronic technology under the bonnet. This makes for a highly economical powerplant, even at low speeds, and assists with maintenance by allowing access to engine diagnostics.

The power take-off (PTO) is an independent 540 rpm drive with a six-spline shaft. It engages hydromechanically on the open-station model and electro-hydraulically on the cab tractor.

The A3F has high lift capacity and hydraulic flow to easily accommodate all implements in this class.

Hydraulic flow ranges from 42ℓ/ min to 55ℓ/ min at 180kPa with two or three control valves.

The 71kW-model A3F has flow control, which is recommended for continuous flow requirements when hydraulic motors on implements are driven.

With a 3 135kg lift capacity at the eye, any implement in the tractor’s category can be operated, and no metal was spared when designing the drawbar.

The standard 12-forward, eight-reverse transmission with creeper gear ensures that all operating speed requirements can be met. The vehicle speed range starts at 0,45km/h, which is ideal for harvesting and pruning tasks. An independent double disc clutch adds to the performance.

A 12-forward, 12-reverse with mechanical reverser option is also available, with an independent double disc clutch standard on all tractors.

All models are mechanical 4WD with a mechanical differential lock and 380/85R24 tyres.

Productivity
The reduced turning radius makes it easy to negotiate the headland and turn into the next row quickly and easily, helping improve productivity.

The external width of the A3F varies from 1 327mm to 1 578mm, but the tractor’s narrow geometry does not limit the implements that can be used.

The A3F is surprisingly comfortable given that it is a narrow-configuration tractor. All controls are arranged around the operator with comfort in mind. The cab tractor has excellent visibility and an adjustable steering column, which makes it easier to enter the cab.

An optional activated carbon filter fitted to the cab configuration provides a safe operating environment when spraying chemicals.

Stehan Cloete, a mechanical engineer, is the director of AgTech Africa. 

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