We were recently featured in the Spring/Summer edition of the Harvest Times, with our very own Steve Macaulay taking centre stage on the front cover. Read the full article below.
The best is yet to come.
Despite running one of the largest lineups of high performance CLAAS foraging harvesting equipment in New Zealand, contractor Steve Macauley says he is far from one-eyed about the German brand.
Steve is the operations manager and co-owner of Mehrtens Ag Services, which provides a comprehensive range of cultivation, drilling and harvesting services to producers throughout the Waimakariri district.
The Oxford-based business boasts an incredible fleet of more than two dozen CLAAS machines, including forage and grain harvesters, mower-conditioners, rakes and balers.
This is complemented by a comprehensive range of AMAZONE cultivators, drills and power harrows and JCB telehandlers, all sourced from CLAAS Harvest Centre Canterbury at Templeton.
According to Steve, every piece of machinery is selected on its merits and replaced accordingly. “We have a lot of CLAAS equipment and a long-standing relationship with our dealer but that doesn’t mean we purchase CLAAS all of the time,” he says.
“We are still running six other tractors from two other German manufacturers so they haven’t got all of our tractor business.”
Consequently, the recent decision to purchase a new CLAAS ARION 650 speaks volumes. The largest model in the CLAAS’ new series of mid-range tractors, it delivers levels of performance, technology and comfort normally only found in much larger machines.
The 184 hp (129 kW) tractor features a 6.8 litre six-cylinder engine with diesel particulate filter (DPF) technology to meet Stage IIIb (Tier 4i) emission standards and a six-speed, four-range powershift transmission.
Steve purchased the ARION 650 based on the performance of two CLAAS AXION 850 (270 hp) tractors purchased in 2008 and an ARION 640 (180 hp) purchased in 2011. “We’ve had a great run out of the 640,” he says. “Our drivers just love it – they pick it first time whenever they get the chance. We think the 650 is even better again. Everything about it is good: it has a long wheelbase yet compact frame, so it’s very manoeuvrable and it has good weight distribution on the front and rear axles. However the main attraction was the new cabin. Our front-line tractors do about 1500 hours a year, so operator comfort is very important to us.”
The high visibility cabin features four-point cabin suspension, complemented by the optional independent front suspension. The ergonomic interior design includes a fully adjustable steering column, an air-suspended seat and integrated right armrest that hosts an impressive array of practical technology. This includes the CLAAS Electronic onBoard Information System (CEBIS), which provides fingertip control of key operating functions via the multi-function lever and a 21 cm high definition colour monitor.
Steve’s tractor is also specified with the optional front linkage and PTO with electronic spool valves that enable the use of the front-and- rear mowing configurations. “We’ve only had this for 100 hours so the engine is still running in, but we’ve already experienced its incredible fuel efficiency,”
Steve says. “Our clients don’t really mind what type of machinery we operate – they just want the job done well and on time. But performance and efficiency means a lot to us because it means we can do more work with less operating costs. The other important thing is reliability. We want to keep our tractors for at least 10,000 hours so reliability, warranty and service are very important to us.”
Recent tests conducted by a leading German agricultural evaluation facility confirmed ARION 650 is the most efficient powershift tractor in the 135 to 225 hp category. The DLG ‘Powermix’ test measures power and fuel efficiency in over three simulated working environments: drawbar, drawbar plus PTO and mixed (drawbar plus PTO and hydraulics). ARION 650 had an average fuel consumption of 272 g/kWh across the three categories, an impressive seven percent lower than the former Stage IIIa engine in the previous series.
Steve says the performance of the business’ AXION and ARION tractors is starting to challenge his long-standing preference for other German-made brands. “CLAAS is doing its best to make the best tractors in the world and I think they are getting very close,” he says. “We are now at the stage where we genuinely think the CLAAS tractors are better. Put it this way, an AXION 900 would be a logical progression for us when the time comes to replace our high horsepower tractors.”
Established by Kevin Mehrtens as a contract baling business in 1981, Oxford Ag Services has grown into a thriving operation that boasts 12 full-time staff, including mechanics, and up to eight casuals.
“Our goal is to do a better job than our clients could do themselves and allow them to focus on their core business,” Steve says. “We can provide high performance machines that are properly maintained and driven by skilled operators who know how to get the most out of them.”
- Harvest Times, Claas Harvest Centre