Aidan Brady runs a multi enterprise farm on the outskirts of Cavan town, comprising 60 spring calving dairy cows, a dry stock unit and two free range broiler poultry units.
Despite the ever increasing workload, the farm is currently a one man operation, so time is of the essence when it comes to most tasks.
With workload increasing and a tired out Same Explorer 90 paired with a rear mounted sheargrab taking care of feeding duties, Aidan decided it was time to buy a fresh machine fitted with a front loader in order to save time and improve comfort.
Having weighed up the pros and cons for buying new and second hand, new seemed like the way to go he said, as it offered reliability, warranty, predictable running costs, more tax benefits and comfort. While second hand offers a better solution for some, Aidan felt a new tractor suited his situation best, long term.
Why John Deere?
With no ties to any particular tractor brand, but keen to deal locally for convenience and backup purposes, the brands considered included Massey Ferguson, John Deere and Valtra.
He felt that buying new suited his particular situation best. “I told each salesman what I required in a tractor.
Essentially, it was a compact 140hp-150hp four-cylinder with a front loader, capable of lifting a 2t pallet, handling a bale shear and five foot shear grab all while being capable of pulling a 2,000 gallon slurry tanker with a 7.5m dribble bar.
The tractors recommended were a 6715 Massey, N154 Valtra and a 6140M John Deere”, Aidan explained.
After close exmaination, Aidan was particularly impressed by the John Deere for a number of reasons. The first thing was its all-round visibility. The second thing was the low pivot point of the front loader. The third was build quality and simplicity of the control layout inside the cab.
A non-loader 6140M was later demonstrated. Having operated it within his own surroundings, Aidan was well impressed by the manoeuvrability and performance of the tractor.
When it came to numbers, it wasn’t the cheapest of the brands priced, but he felt it suited his needs best. Being a long term investment he decided to ‘spec’ the tractor well.
He coupled it as advised with the 623R front loader and larger hydraulic pump, full LED work light package and with the 40km/h CommandQuad Plus transmission and compact CommandArm, meaning all controls would literally be at his fingertips.
Engine and transmission
Moving from his 90hp Same (which remains on the farm) to a 140hp tractor meant Aidan was always going to notice the extra power of the 4.5l four-cylinder twin-turbo Powertech engine tucked under the bonnet.
It churns out a rated 140hp, boosting to a maximum 156hp when the PTO is engaged and travelling over 1km/h or when hauling at speeds over 15km/h.
Since delivery in January 2021, Aidan has clocked up 1,400 hours in total. Fuel economy is one areas he cannot find fault with. “So far it has averaged 6l of diesel per hour and one tank of AdBlue to three of diesel, across all jobs.”
The demo tractor had been fitted with the CommandQuad transmission which he opted for on his own tractor having liked it. This 40km/h powershift arrangement comprises 24x24 speeds in total with a full automatic function and ‘brake to neutral’ feature.
“I liked the idea of all transmission and loader controls on the command arm and felt it would leave yard work much easier not having to reach for separate levers for the loader and the transmission.
"For that reason, I was advised to go with the CommandQuad Plus transmission and the CommandArm. Everything including the forward and reverse shuttle, gear changes, boom suspension and third service functions are controlled from the electronic joystick, leaving it a dream to operate,” Aidan explained.
Chassis and loader
While still a small frame model with its 258cm wheelbase, the 6140M does measure 18cm longer than the short frame, sloped bonnet 6090M to 6120M models.
In order to achieve Aidan’s 2t front loader lift requirement, the 623R was the first loader in the range to meet the criteria but at a minimum required the slightly longer chassis and increased capacities of the 6140M.
He did in fact opt for the 623R loader equipped with mechanical self-levelling and boom suspension, offering a 2,272kg maximum lift capacity.
Aside from the sturdy construction of the 623R front loader, its low pivot height compared to competitor brands was a major attraction. He also believes that the fixed frame chassis leaves the tractor very stable with the loader.
Its brackets are bolted directly to the chassis without the need for the more complex chassis brackets other brands use. “I’ve witnessed neighbours with larger frame six-cylinder tractors struggle more when lifting 2t pallets.
I had a delivery driver comment on the tractors ability and stability unloading pallets one day,” Aidan said. The loader tends to be removed when it’s not in use which he says takes as little as three minutes to take off.
John Deere use an automatic floating mast latch design to simplify the process.
The tractor is equipped with mechanical cab suspension and the tried and tested front Triple Link Suspension (TLS). In terms of tyres and wheels, it is well shod on 600/65 R38 and 540/65 R24 Trelleborg tyres and solid wheel rims.
Cab and hydraulics
“The current M series cab is a super cab and really narrows the gap between it and the R series cab. It may not have the same space as the R series, but it does have the functionality and good visibility.
The compact CommandArm ties in very well with the corner post dash display, Aidan pointed out as he praised its relocation from the steering column. All of the display and setting screens which he described as cleanly and cleverly laid out are navigated through using a thumb wheel.
While the CommandArm homes all transmission, loader and three point linkage controls, the three electric spools are positioned on the right hand console which fit well in hand and can be reached without moving an elbow off the armrest.
A major point of praise is the positioning and common grouping of all other control buttons such as lights, 4wd, differential lock, and cab heating etc.
“Where it seems some manufacturers have now over-complicated control layout, I like that John Deere has kept it simple and effective, and to me that is good engineering.
"Take the pickup hitch release lever and three point linkage lift controller, they have practically gone unchanged since the 10 series over 20 year ago. Having said that, certain aspects and controls have benefited from being redesigned. The relocation of the dash to the corner pillar is one good example.
Aidan’s tractor is fitted with the larger 114l/min hydraulic pump (80l/min standard) and larger assister rams.
While the full hydraulic capacity is ideal for loader work, he said that flow needs to be restricted via the corner post display for the majority of implements such as the dribble bar macerator and fertiliser spreader.
Overall, Aidan finds it hard to fault the tractor and is happy with the time it has allowed him to save and spend elsewhere. “Where I could previously only draw in one bale at a time, three bales can now be carried.
"The front loader has helped reduce feeding times and neck strain having moved away from the back end sheargrab. The way the loader is setup is the closest thing you’ll get to a wheel loader.”
“I drive the tractor in full auto mode the majority of the time along with the brake to neutral function which again greatly improves yard work and avoids manually clutching or having to concentrate on gear selection.
“For some tasks such as spreading slurry I find it best to operate the transmission manually.
After 1,400 hours I’m very happy with the tractor and the service provided by the local Meath Farm Machinery depot in Cavan,” Aidan explained.