HAVING chalked up more than 4000 hours in three CLAAS tractors in the past six years, Waikato dairy farmer, Harvey Kloeten, says he’d recommend the brand to others without hesitation.
Harvey and wife Nicola, who also works as a farm consultant, milk about 530 cows on their 360 hectare property at Te Kuiti, about 80 km south of Hamilton. The farm includes a 250 ha dairy platform, an 80 ha run-off block and 30 ha of native bush.
The herd has an average production of about 360 kilograms of milk solids, achieved off a low input grazing system. “We are focused on overall farm profitability rather than production per cow or per hectare,” Harvey says. “Our goal is to manage our herd to a high standard while improving our land and pastures. Some of our country is very rocky or steep in places, which can be quite limiting in terms of pasture management or land use. Only 15 per cent of our land is arable, which is enough to produce about 300 tonnes of grass silage a year.”
The 40 bale rotary includes an in-shed feed system for palm kernel meal. Harvey purchased his first CLAAS tractor – a second-hand CELTIS 456 – in 2010, soon after he returned to his family’s farm as a share-milker. “I wanted a 100 horsepower tractor with low hours and at the right price,” he says. “In the end, I found a CELTIS 456 with 750 hours on it and it turned out to be a great tractor.”
The purchase of an 80 ha run-off block in 2014 necessitated the need for another tractor. “We were forever changing implements and moving between the two blocks,” Harvey says. “We needed another tractor that complemented the CELTIS – it either needed to be bigger or smaller. “We’d had a good run with our CELTIS and the service we’d received from CLAAS Harvest Centre in Hamilton, so we were happy to look at a new CLAAS. We ended up going for the smaller option with a CLAAS AXOS 330 ROP and front-end loader.
“We were interested in buying a CLAAS tractor but we still did our homework – and we felt the AXOS was easily the best value tractor on the market.” The 92 hp tractor is equipped with a 4.4 L four cylinder Perkins turbo-charged intercooled engine, coupled with a 20/20 two-stage powershift transmission and clutchless reverser.
Like all CLAAS tractors, it has a long wheelbase, balanced weight distribution and a tight turning circle for maximum stability and manoeuvrability. It is fitted with dual rear wheels for extra stability on the steep slopes.
The AXOS has quickly become the ‘everyday’ tractor. “It’s bulletproof and it’s easy to operate,” Harvey says. “The transmission is great on the hills because you don’t run out of gears and come to a stop. The ROPS is brilliant for feeding out, front-end loader work and other everyday jobs. If you’re in your wet weather gear and you’re on and off the tractor every five minutes opening gates, it doesn’t matter whether you have a cabin or not.”
Harvey and Nicola replaced their CELTIS with a new CLAAS ARION 530 CIS last year. “We’d put another 3000 hours on it and it was time to get something with more horsepower for drilling pastures on steep slopes,” he says. It features a super-efficient 4.5 L four cylinder DPS engine that delivers 145 hp at all engine speeds and 24/24 powershift transmission. It was supplied with six spool valves, 110 L/min hydraulic capacity and dual rear wheels. The spacious five-pillar cab has wide-opening door for easy access and adjustable four-point cabin suspension as standard.
“It’s a completely different tractor to the old CELTIS,” Harvey says. “What do I like about my ARION? Everything – the powershift, the cabin, the suspension. “You don’t know how good it is until you driven one for 17 hours straight and then hop into another tractor. I’d recommend a CLAAS tractor to anyone – their tractors are a pleasure to drive and we’ve have no issues with reliability.
“I feel very comfortable dealing with CLAAS Harvest Centre. Their sales representatives know what they are talking about and they are a pleasure do business with. Hamilton is a bit of a way away but I know I have access to 24/7 service if I need it. In the meantime, they are very good at trouble-shooting over the phone.”