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Loader tractor or telehandler?

JCB executives believe once North American farmers get used to telescopic handlers, they’ll never go back to a conventional ag tractor and loader

JCB telehandler

European farmers have been buying telehandlers in pretty large numbers for decades, but here in North America, on-farm materials handling has been pretty much the domain of the ag tractor equipped with a front-end loader. Telehandler sales numbers here have been relatively small — so far.

Executives at JCB think a large number of farmers who use loader tractors would be much better served with one of the brand’s purpose-built “Agri” telescopic handlers.

JCB, originally founded in the United Kingdom, is one of the originators of the telehandler concept. The brand introduced its first Loadall model about 38 years ago. Today, the firm considers itself a leader in on-farm materials handling, because it offers a range of equipment, such as telehandlers, skid-steers and wheel loaders, specifically equipped for farmers.

JCB telehandler
Product and sales manager Ray Bingley explains the features of JCB’s smallest telehandler, the 525-60 Agri, at a company event in Savannah, Georgia, in March. photo: Scott Garvey

“The telehandler market in North America is still in its very early stages,” said Ray Bingley, JCB’s North American product and sales manager, during a media event at the company’s Savannah, Georgia, plant in March. “The market is still small, but we know we are headed in the right direction, because we talk to customers all the time. The guys that buy them will tell us they don’t know how they managed their farm without it.”

“We have a range of 10 machines, starting with the 525-60,” he added.

The 74 horsepower, low profile Loadall 525-60 Agri is designed to get into the smallest buildings with a maximum height of only 6 feet, 3 inches and a width of 6 feet. The company makes versions of this model available with features designed to appeal directly to poultry and hog producers.

The 525-60 Agri can lift 1,360 kilgrams (3,000 pounds) up to a maximum height of 6.09 metres (20 ft.). These specs are something a standard ag tractor that could fit through a doorway as small as one the 525-60 can slip through just can’t match.

At the top end of the agricultural Loadall range is the 560-80 Agri Super, which can hold 3,000 kilograms (6,613 lbs.) at the top of its boom lift, 7.9 m (25 ft., 9 in.) in the air.

JCB telehandler
The extended reach of the articulated telescopic loader gives an operator greater flexibility when handling loads like large round bales.  photo: Scott Garvey

The Loadall range includes features like end dampening when retracting the boom or lowering lift cylinders. That helps take the shock out of quick hydraulic adjustments. And the Smooth Ride Suspension system can help stabilize the machine when carrying loads.

The larger Loadalls get a 6-speed powershift transmission with lock-up torque converter and a regenerative hydraulic system that recoups energy when the boom is retracted or lowered, which also allows for more rapid cylinder retraction.

“There is now a new automated bucket control system to rapidly vibrate the bucket when tipping muck and other sticky materials,” said Tim Burnhope, JCB chief innovation and growth officer.

The Telemaster

But now there is another machine in JCB’s equipment stable that may appeal to Canadian farmers even more than the Loadall range of Agri telehandlers. That is the Telemaster TM Series, which is a blend of an articulated wheel loader and a telehandler.

“Our Telemaster range has been developed exclusively for farmers,” said Burnhope. “It’s a new concept in ag materials handling in North America, but it’s one that is gathering some momentum quickly.”

With a configuration that more closely resembles a wheel loader, the operator sits in a central cab, mounted higher on the chassis. But instead of standard lift arms, it uses a telescopic boom. JCB now offers two models of Telemaster, the TM320 and the brand new, smaller TM220.

“Sales to farmers in the U.S. and Canada (of the TM320) have exceeded our expectations, and we expect sales of the TM220 will be just as high,” added Burnhope. “The TM220 will lift to a maximum height of 15 ft. (4.57 m) and when extended it will support 2,535 lbs. (1,152 kg) at full forward reach to off-load a trailer or place a hay bale over a fence or into a feeder.”

“The articulated chasis steering means that manoeuvrability is very neat and predictable,” he added. “Furthermore, operators can tweak the position of a grab or bucket sideways while stationary for precise placement of materials. JCB Telemasters are the perfect solution for operators who want to drive like a wheel loader but want the benefits of a telescopic boom.”

About the author


Scott Garvey

Scott Garvey is a freelance writer and video producer. He is also the former machinery editor at Grainews.



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