THERE has never been a story written about the engineers who make tractor engines.
Not to my knowledge anyway.
Ever since the do-gooders demanded less black smoke from the agricultural prime movers, trucks, et al, engineers have been quietly producing spectacular results in engine technology.
The initial proposition was to reduce engine emissions which would have compromised engine power output.
But that hasn't occurred. Engines have become more powerful, with fewer emissions and with the bonus of improved fuel economy, courtesy of clever computer-controlled engine management systems.
The upshot of all of this has boosted power and popularity of front wheel-assist (FWA) tractors, seriously challenging the bottom end power rating of 4WD tractors.
Pingrup farmer Kingsley Vaux made the move to one of these stereotypical FWA models when he bought a Fendt Vario 933 three years ago.
Eyebrows are raised when he says it only has 1250 hours on the clock but the query is quickly answered with the news that Kingsley also has Fendt Vario 718, which is used for chase work, spreading and spraying and other odds jobs.
"The 933 is a dedicated seeding tractor," he said. "Although we did link it up with the 718 for dam scooping and it worked a treat."
In action, the 933 looks like a 4WD tractor, shoed with 60065R34 duals on the front and 71070R42 duals on the rear.
"I had duals on the previous front wheel-assist tractor I had and they worked well, especially to achieve better flotation," Kingsley said.
According to PH Kerr salesman John Ayers-Dillon, Katanning, there is an emerging trend with medium broadacre farmers to go for dual tyres on FWA tractors because of their versatility.
"You can use the duals for seeding then take them off for spraying, spreading or chasing," he said.
Realistically, Kingsley says he has the perfect seeding rig, with the 933 linked to a 10.9m (36ft) Horwood Bagshaw Scaribar and a 9000 litre capacity Simplicity airseeder.
"I'm putting in 1100ha and with this rig I can achieve that within my parameters," he said.
"I've got about 60 per cent heavy clay and I run sheep so I'm happy with the size of the rig.
"It just means working longer hours during the program."
Operationally, the 933 is producing the goods for Kingsley with an operating range between 1200 and 1900 rpm depending on soil conditions and fuel consumption averaging 25 litres an hour.
And he agrees it takes a while to describe all the features of the Fendt.
Fendt's Vario technology with step-less transmission, provides optional speeds up to 50km/h - with the top speed at reduced engine speed of 1700rpm - and is the first system of its kind to integrate all work and control functions within one communication unit.
Everything the driver needs for fast and safe operations is logically arranged - all driving functions plus hydraulics and PTOs can be controlled with the joystick.
An addition is Vario TI (Teach In) which provides the operator with the option to execute frequently-used functions by pushing one button.
And Fendt's Tractor Management System (TMS) means you can set the desired speed and allow the TMS to automatically find the optimum engine speed. The result is more hectares an hour with less fuel.
While doing so, the TMS takes the actual load as well as the acceleration rate you have chosen into account.
Together with the alternative of driving with the driving pedal, four different driving strategies are possible, involving the joystick and driving pedal.
Driving comfort is provided with front axle suspension with leveling control, cab suspension and shock load stabilising.
The Vario load-sensing hydraulic system is a highlight among hydraulic systems in terms of performance, efficiency and flexibility.
All hydraulic functions are simply and logically integrated on the operator's armrest via the joystick or cross-gate lever.
The Vario is fitted with double-acting control units that also can be used in a single-acting capacity and feature a floating position.
Prioritisation of auxiliary control units allows rapid response and short lifting times even at low engine speeds.
The optional front three point linkage and PTO adds even more flexibility for such operations as mowing at the front and raking at the rear.
And the Vario Series also has been designed with a reverse console model for converting the tractor into a swather.