Versatility key to latest 300hp addition

Running a trio of 300hp tractors might be unnecessary for many farms but Martin Bramley’s operation requires all three at peak times and his latest MF 8S.305 has versatility far beyond being a traditional high horsepower field lugger. 

A busy arable and contracting farming operation along with other diversification projects means Martin Bramley requires reliable horsepower than can tackle a wide variety of jobs from hauling grain to drilling cereals.

Based at Sherburn in Elmet, near Leeds, the farm has run Massey Ferguson tractors since 1940 but has always kept a close eye on the market and resale values to make sure they run the best machine for the job and reliability is maintained, as Mr Bramley explains.  

“We run Massey Ferguson tractors as they offer us the right blend of operator comfort and workload versatility, with competitive prices and strong resale values. We aren’t afraid to look at other brands and often do when we are in the market, but the deal has to make financial sense, along with dealer back-up being very important to our business.”

5/6-year replacement policy

His latest purchase, a 2022 MF 8S.305, arrived on the farm to replace an MF 7726S, which had forced the change sooner than anticipated due to a fire when baling midway through harvest. Mr Bramley’s dealer, Peacock and Binnington (P&B), helped him out with a demo machine to get through harvest, which proved the benefits of keeping strong dealer relations.

“With the cost of replacement nowadays, it gets harder to justify what we are paying for new machinery. I need to know there is good value in what we are trading in to make the cost to change acceptable. We look after the machines well to maximise what we get back at the end.”

Mr Bramley works on a five/six-year replacement policy for his three frontline MF machines, although it can be flexible depending on workload. The hours begin at over 1,000/year when a machine arrives, and gradually reduce the longer the tractors are on farm and as younger models are drafted in. The tractors must do a minimum of five years to justify the initial investment.

Although the farm has run MF tractors for decades, he is convinced they offer the right mix of competitive pricing, good reliability, and strong resale values. “The purchase price is very competitive with the competition, the operational running costs must be stomached for any tractor, no matter the colour, and the cost to change and trade in values have always been good with MF, so we can maintain a modern fleet and have access to the latest technology.”

300hp trio

The MF 8S.305 became the third tractor on the farm to offer over 300hp, however, unlike the MF 8730 S and MF 8732 S already on the farm, it offered it in a smaller frame with better visibility and a redesigned cab.

The versatility when changing between road and field is one of biggest improvements compared with the existing tractors, explains Mr Bramley. “We run a mounted six furrow Rabe plough that requires a delicate touch on the road. In the 8700 tractors, we struggle to reach 40kph with the plough on the back before feeling unsteady, whereas the MF 8S is well-balanced to cope with the plough on the road and in the field. It offers all-round versatility, where the 8700 machines are dedicated field machines.”

Other differences with the MF 8S include the new cab, which features a 24cm gap between the bonnet and cab glass to reduce sound and noise transfer. The tractors all feature the Datatronic 5 screen and Trimble GPS, which is easy to use and familiar so all operators can set it up.

“There are more functions with the joystick, and we can customise it to control more features than the older models. However, like any new machine, it takes a bit of getting used to as we have become so familiar with our current machines and the joystick is still a bit unfamiliar. However, the visibility is much better and its size means it doesn’t feel like a 300hp tractor.”

Assessing all options

All his tractors feature the Dyna VT transmission that offers smooth operation and the ability to customise settings to reduce fuel consumption both in the field and the road.

Mr Bramley wants to make sure he is getting the best machine for the workload and has demoed several other makes in the 300hp horsepower sector to make sure the chosen model is the best fit for the farm.

“We did some in-house comparisons with a couple of well-known brands to assess the tractors across the workload we have. This included monitoring fuel use during both road and field jobs and we were pleased to see the MF 8S offered a good match for the more expensive brands we compared it with.”

The decision to run tractors to six years and go beyond a standard warranty period is a calculated one. All new machines arrive on the farm with a three-year warranty, which means repairs and servicing in the final two/three years are handled in-house. Mr Bramley says he has the confidence to do this as he runs three similar powered machines, but back-up from dealer Peacock and Binnington (P&B) is also a major reason.

“We had a few issues with our MF 8732 and P&B looked after us very well. They have good mechanics that know the machines fully and nowadays the dealer is as important as the colour of machinery. When we had the fire, P&B got us out of a hole and this, coupled with the strong resales and good reliability are key reasons why we favour the MF brand,” concludes Mr Bramley.


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