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Minogue: Deere tracks put to test in Sask. fields

The tractor has just been unveiled, but a Saskatchewan farmer can already tell us John Deere’s first four-track high-powered unit is “a bit of a game changer.”

Steve Tomtene, who farms at Birch Hills, about 30 km southeast of Prince Albert, tried and tested the new 9RX on his farm for Deere this spring, and attended Deere’s plant at Waterloo, Iowa Tuesday for the unveiling.

Tractors with tires, and with two tracks, are already in Deere’s 9R lineup, but this is the company’s first four-tracked option, expected to compete directly with Case IH’s Steiger Quadtrac.

Four tracks on the ground are meant to give farmers an improved ride and allow for tighter turns when pulling heavy implements.

The new 9RX models range from 470 to 620 horsepower. Their CommandView III cabs are meant to improve operators’ view of the field, and come with a new suspension system, meant to improve ride quality.

John Deere said it's designed the 9RX track system for minimal vibration and maximum operator comfort.

John Deere said it’s designed the 9RX track system for minimal vibration and maximum operator comfort.
photo: Leeann Minogue

Other features include an undercarriage with a positive drive system, a smooth-shifting e18 transmission and a redesigned hydraulic system with flow of up to 115 gallons per minute.

The rubber tracks, made by off-road track manufacturer Camso, are available in 30- or 36-inch widths.

At his farm this spring, Tomtene said, the 9RX did more than just pull its own weight (about 60,000 pounds). “This tractor exceeded our expectations in a number of areas.”

The Tomtenes reported less compaction after spring seeding, more uniform seed emergence and a more comfortable operator experience. “We could travel faster and be comfortable,” Tomtene said.

But at a time when much of the the Canadian Prairies appears to be heading into a dry cycle, is this the best time to be buying tracked machines?

“You never know,” he said. “We always get heavy thunderstorms, even during dry years.”

After a storm, a tracked machine can help farmers avoid rutting, adding increased flexibility to the operation. “A machine like that can handle all situations,” Tomtene said.

Leeann Minogue is editor of Grainews. Follow her at @GrainMuse on Twitter.

John Deere unveiled its new 9RX four-tracked tractor at its production facility in Waterloo, Iowa on Aug. 25.

John Deere unveiled its new 9RX four-tracked tractor at its production facility in Waterloo, Iowa on Aug. 25.
photo: Leeann Minogue

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Leeann Minogue is the editor of Grainews.

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