For David Reinhardt of Carstairs, Alta., deciding to ditch his 200-horsepower front-wheel assist tractor for a Merlo Multifarmer telehandler took a leap of faith.
“We were very nervous about it when we bought our first one,” he says. “The price per horsepower is a little bit higher. Once we got it here and put it through its paces, I don’t think I’d ever be without one now.”
Reinhardt says he looked at a variety of machine brands and types when searching for something to maximize efficiency on his farm and to be used in a new custom baling venture. He opted for the Merlo 40.9 Multifarmer.
“Once we found the Merlo with the three-point hitch and PTO on the back, I knew it was something we were definitely interested in,” he adds.
Reinhardt has had the advantage of using a number of different model year Multifarmers, and he has noticed the extra horsepower on his newest 40.9 model was a significant improvement over the older versions.
“I definitely notice the extra power in the new one,” he says. “It does perform a lot better and the hydraulics are faster on the newer machine.”
On his farm, the Multifarmer has now replaced a 200-horsepower loader tractor and skid steer. Now, he finds that one machine better fits his needs than the previous two.
“It replaced my 200-horse loader tractor and it replaced my skid steer,” he confirms. “It’s my go-to machine for doing any loader work at all, as well as my go-to machine for PTO work. For grain augers, my bale processor. I’ve raked hay with it. I run my post-hole auger and brush mower on the front. I use it to clean corrals. It loads all my silage. Anything you can do with a front-wheel assist tractor you can do with one of these, pretty much.”
The different operator position in the lower cab, which is off to one side rather than a central seating position on a standard ag tractor or skid steer, feels a little different, he notes. But it didn’t take much adjustment to get comfortable with it. And he found the nine-metre reach of the boom has been extremely useful.
“It’s a huge, huge advantage,” he says. “First and foremost, it’ll lift 9,000 pounds. It has double the capacity of a front-wheel assist tractor for lifting power. It digs a lot better than a skid steer because you have a lot more traction.
“I’m always extending out. When I’m loading my silage wagon, I don’t have to get right up against the side to dump into it. For large square bales, I can make a 12-bale-high stack with it with no problem. Even cleaning corrals, now I can make manure piles easily 20 feet high and have them take up a lot less ground area.”
He’s also noticed the multiple four-wheel steering options make the machine much more maneuverable around the farmyard.
“I pretty much have it in four-wheel steer all the time. If I’m cleaning corrals and slip too close to a fence, then I flip it over to crab steer and move sideways, away from the fence or building. Whereas with a tractor, if you slide up against a fence or building, now you’re in a big pile of trouble.”
The rear three-point hitch also helps make the Multifarmer more efficient in his custom baling operation.
“If the field isn’t too rough, I can hit 30 or 40 kilometres per hour across it with those bales on, so you can really make some time,” he says. “This past fall in a beautiful big field, I had a guy on the (large) baler turning out 140 to 150 bales an hour. I was pushing that Merlo to its limits, but I was keeping up stacking them and hauling them a half mile across the quarter and stacking them on the side by the road.”
Much of that high-speed capability comes from the suspended boom that cushions shocks to the machine from the load, suspended cab and air seat, which allows the machine to comfortably reach higher speeds, even over rougher surfaces.
In the end, Reinhardt has no regrets about his telehandler purchase. And his advice for anyone contemplating buying a Multifarmer is to buy the newest one they can afford to take advantage of design upgrades, which have been appearing regularly on the models he’s operated.
Says Reinhardt, “Merlo is really good about upgrading parts of their machines. Every newer model year, I’ve noticed something they’ve improved on.”