The 101hp to 120hp bracket is the most popular range for many Irish farmers at the moment, accounting for over 31% of all registrations. These tractors tend to weigh in at around 4t to 5t.
Specialist tractors are rarely used in mainstream Irish beef or sheep farming. But is there a market for such a tractor? We received a call from Green Equipment Supplies (GES) in Wexford who were keen for us to get behind the wheel of such a unit. Their thoughts are that such a tractor would be suitable for both wetter land and hill farms.
Do they have a point? Should farmers on wetter land and hill farmers be looking to lighter specialist tractors to suit the conditions? To get more of a feel for such a unit, we put a 75hp Antonio Carraro TTR 7600X through its paces.
Antonio Carraro tractors
Antonio Carraro (AC) Tractors is an Italian manufacturer, which is on the go since 1910. It builds over 30 different variations of specialist tractors.
Although not that well known in mainstream Irish agriculture, AC is well known worldwide for the production of compact tractors for specialised agriculture and civil maintenance. The brand was originally part of the one Carraro family, which is well known for its axles and transmissions. AC tractors have actually been working here in Ireland for over 30 years. GES is the importer and distributor.
The TTR 7600X featured is a 75hp tractor, but it is not a conventional one. Its big selling point is its high power to weight ratio of 32.9kg/hp.
It has a low centre of gravity for working on hills and undulating conditions. This is evident in its reduced ground clearance (240mm) and the positioning of the planetary drives.
AC uses mostly Yanmar and Kubota engines. However, the 7600X is powered by a four-pot Kohler engine.
This engine provided ample get up and go, which was expected in the light-framed tractor. The tractor was supplied with a 1.9m Zanon flail mower. It operated the mulcher in the 540 economy gearbox easily, handing all sorts of scrub.
The option of reverse drive was the nicest feature on the 7600X. The steering column with pedal controls and the seat with the attached joystick are all centrally mounted and the unit acts as a rotating turret. This makes it possible to invert the driving direction in about 20 seconds. The operator just turns the seat, steering wheel, dash and pedal assembly 180° for the reverse driving direction.
Operators of reverse drive machinery or self-propelled units will be quick to tell you it offers much nicer operation than a conventional setup. When operating the flail mower, this was also the case.
The cab is a simple, no-frills unit. When all glassware is shut, it offers decent soundproof operation. The control layout is straightforward, with all switches positioned close to the operator. The forward-reverse shuttle control is also on the steering wheel column. The joystick is positioned to the right of the operator. It controls all hydraulic functions and is very user-friendly.
Its low ground clearance and two large doors mean accessibility into the cab is very good. However, to keep its low centre of gravity and compact design, a flat deck cab design isn’t possible. Visibility is very good, especially when operating in reverse drive. Front and rear windows open outwards, allowing for good air flow. An air conditioning unit can be fitted as an optional extra and the heater was certainly welcome in recent days.
The unit is fitted with a hybrid mechanical-hydrostatic continuously-variable transmission known by AC as Infinity. This transmission features two mechanical ranges, with three electronic shift-on-the-go speeds for each.
The two ranges are designed for field (0-15km/h) and road work (0-40km/h). The range change is carried out using a mechanical selector positioned beside the clutch, meaning the tractor has to be at a complete standstill.
Meanwhile, the three electronic shift-on-the-go speeds for each range can be selected manually or by using the automatic function. The transmission offers smooth shifting between the three speeds.
The hydrostatic transmission is brake-assisted once the force on the drive pedal is eased, before stopping the tractor when the pedal is fully released. A nice feature for hill work.
In the field
The big thing that impressed us with this unit was its lighter footprint on the land. The usability of the unit in the field was also impressive. When working with the PTO engaged, the PTO and ground speed worked independently of one another.
The operator doesn’t need to clutch upon changing the direction via the hand shuttle. The tractor is driven off the foot throttle, which won’t affect tractor RPM.
The tractor is constantly in four-wheel drive, but the drive to the front wheels can be electro-hydraulically disengaged with the flick of a switch.
It also features front and rear differential locks, which is also switch engaged and disengaged.
As mentioned previously, the tractor was comfortably operated in the 540 economy gearbox. To change to 540rpm, the operator must manually select the gear at the rear of the unit.
Despite its reduced ground clearance to accommodate operation on hilly ground, the underbelly of the tractor was well protected. We operated it on peaty soil, where very little ground damage was observed.
Personally, I would opt for agricultural tyres over the tyres specified. And if intending using it on wet or hilly land, would probably specify duals to ensure absolute minimal ground damage year-round.
As it stands, the machine is just 6ft (1,840mm) wide, so could comfortably handle the extra width.
As the unit is reverse drive, it offers continuously-variable speed from 0-40km/h in forward and reverse. The unit features lots of innovative functions, such as the Eco mode which maintains the max travel speed with a low engine rpm.
The 7600X is very nippy for a small unit. However, roadwork isn’t its speciality. The close proximity of the two axles means the unit can be quite bouncy on rougher terrain at higher speeds.
The 7600X impressed and surprised us. It’s nimble, powerful and efficient. It’s evident a lot of thought and time has gone into perfecting its design, usability and low centre of gravity. It has a tight turning circle and with two hydraulic pumps (40l/min + 31l/min) as standard, offers impressive hydraulic capacity . It is equipped with a hydraulically operated drop link on the left lift arm, a hydraulic top link, while retaining the option of operating three other spool valves (two double-acting, one single).
However, as the old saying goes, you pay for what you get. This fully loaded piece of kit comes with quite a hefty price tag. For the machine as featured, you’re talking a price tag in the region of €65,000 plus VAT.
Model: TTR 7600X.
Engine: Four-cylinder Kohler.
Transmission: Hydrostatic continuously-variable.
Max ground speed: 40km/h.
Power-weight ratio: 32.9kg/hp.
Length: 11.45ft (3,490mm).
Width: 6ft (1,840mm).
Height: 7.16ft (2,185mm).
Fuel tank: 47 litres.
Hydraulics: two hydraulic pumps with a combined capacity of 71l/min.
Starting price: €65,000 (£58,835) plus VAT