A few decades ago the former Canadian distributor of Belarus tractors included high-horsepower, four-wheel drive tractors in its product line, and they wore the Belarus brand name. But these machines weren’t built in the same factory in Minsk, Belarus that produced the front-wheel assist models that distributor sold here at the time, because the Minsk plant didn’t (and still doesn’t) produce very-high-horsepower machines. They were, instead, produced by the Kirovets factory in St. Petersburg, Russia and just wore Belarus badges for the North American market. Kirovets tractors have been in production in St. Petersburg since 1962.
When MTZ Equipment Ltd. took over distribution of Minsk-built Belarus tractors in North America a couple of years ago, the company’s VP of sales and marketing, Arie Prilik, told Grainews his firm chose to use the Minsk factory’s other brand name, MTZ, instead of Belarus, but the tractors are the same. And, he said, his firm would eventually add a Kirovets-built, four-wheel drive model to their product line.
The first wave of model K744 Kirovets tractors wearing MTZ badges was expected to arrive on Canadian shores in June. They’ll top out the range of MTZ-branded tractors in Canada at 428 horsepower. That should help broaden the brand’s market appeal, especially in Western Canada.
“At only U.S. $198,000, MSRP, this affordable, powerful tractor allows farmers to reduce significantly their input cost and keep more money in their pockets,” MTZ Equipment said in a press release. “Loaded with most popular options (duals, PTO, in-cab hitch control) the tractor is priced at US$227,730, saving US$130,000 to US$200,000 compared to similarly equipped major competitors.”
The K744 MTZ Equipment is importing to Canada will have a Tier 3 emissions level OM460LA turbocharged Mercedes Benz diesel under the hood, so it won’t require the use of DEF or a particulate exhaust filter. Because the brand is new to the North American market, it gets to take advantage of a limited exemption all manufacturers were given by the U.S. EPA (which Canada has also permitted), allowing them to use lower emissions-level engines until a certain number of units are sold. Because MTZ is selling a much lower volume of tractors than the major brands, the exemption could last a while.
Behind the K744’s German engine is a 16F/8R partial power shift allowing on-the-go gear changes within each of four forward ranges and two reverse. The tractor rides on a suspended front axle and has a 300 l/min. hydraulic flow rating. It also comes equipped with a category III and IV three-point rear hitch with a lift capacity of 9,000 kilograms. “Self-locking” differentials help improve traction.
MTZ’s press release calls the tractor a “Solid mechanical design” and adds that it has “None of the complicated computers, electronics, finicky sensors (of other brands)”, emphasizing what these machines offer farmers: a more basic level of mechanical engineering that produces cheaper brute horsepower for those who don’t need or want more sophisticated machines.
MTZ Equipment says it will be providing parts support at all its dealers not only for the K744 but also for the older Kirovets tractors previously sold in Canada.
Prilik says a K744 will be making the rounds to farm shows in Western Canada this summer. Expect to see one at this month’s Ag in Motion show near Saskatoon and again at the Red Deer show later in the fall.
MTZ Equipment is also looking to increase its network of dealers across the U.S. and Canada. For more information, check out mtzequipment.com.