Top Tractor Shootout 2015 Overview

Video by: Stephen Dwight, Josh Robinson

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Watch the video as we go behind the scenes and explain how the judging is done.

Hosted by New Farm Machinery magazine and New Zealand sister title Farm Trader, the 2015 Top Tractor Shootout was held at the South Island Agricultural Field Days in NZ. 

Over three days in late March, six tractor brands were put through their paces by a team of experts who operate these machines for a living. 

Find out which model was crowned the 2015 Top Tractor Shotoout winner


The brief

Taking New Zealand’s summer drought and low dairy pay-out into consideration, it was decided to test 6 cylinder tractors of any power so long as they came in under the $140,000 price bracket (NZD, excluding a loader).

"The price cap simply was put in place as without it, the most highly specced, and generally most expensive tractor, will always have an advantage," head judge Jaiden Drought says. "The price cap sets a fairer playing field and ensures a ‘real’ competition."

Drought adds the focus this year is on ‘value for money’, with the price cap specifically set at $140,000 to bring the dealers’ higher sales volume tractors to the forefront.

"These machines also represent good value for contractors looking for a general tractor for raking, wrapping, baling etc.," he says.


The contestants 

Top -Tractor -Shootout -2015-tractor -models

Deutz-Fahr M600 Summit 

Case IH Puma 160 

John Deere 6150M with TLS

Claas Arion 630 CIS

New Holland T6070 Elite

Massey Ferguson 7615 Dyna-6


Find out more about the contestants and watch the short video.


The judges

Top -Tractor -Shootout -2015-judges

Brent Lilley: Farm Trader machinery tester, beef farmer and agricultural contractor

Mark Fouhy: Farm Trader machinery tester and dairy farmer

Tom Dickson: New Farm Machinery technical writer and ex cattle farmer 

Jaiden Drought: Farm Trader’s technical editor, dairy farmer and agricultural contractor


Find out more about the judges


The implements

Top -Tractor -Shootout -2015-implements

Testing the tractors did not mean just driving them sedately around a paddock.

"We decided on the Alpego Super Cracker and Falc 5m power harrow; kindly supplied by Power Farming and Farm Chief," Drought says. 

"Although these equipment were arguably too big for some of the machines, they allowed us to truly test the tractors under pressure.

"It also meant we had to slow down the bigger tractors, rather than try to speed up the smaller ones, and overall they all handled the task exceptionally well.

"We also extensively dyno tested each machine, thanks to Diesel Performance Solutions." 


The judging process

Top -Tractor -Shootout -2015-judges -discussing

With the emphasis for this Top Tractor Shootout placed on ‘value for money’, it is important to point out some of the key things the judges were looking for, as everyone’s perception is slightly different.

The argument around what actually represented ‘value for money’ raged for a few hours. In the end, the quartet were unanimous:

  • The machine must be well suited to the target market (contractors and farmers)
  • A level of spec that will be able to be used frequently, but not overly complicated to the point where it makes the machine confusing to operate
  • Solid and well built. As the old saying goes ‘you get what you pay for’, so while price does play a part, there is more to value for money than just being the most expensive or the cheapest in the line-up
  • Must be a comfortable, well laid out machine. Typically contractors and farmers spend many hours in their tractor, so user-friendliness was high on the priority list.


The verdict

With four blokes who love nothing more than discussing machinery, the tail-end of the judging process was always going to be a lengthy one.

However, one genius came up with a time saving solution: for each judge to state which one tractor they picked as the outright favourite without explanation or defending their pick.

Everyone was as surprised when all four judges chose the same tractor. However, it was by the narrowest imaginable margin. 

"Once the in-depth discussion began on each tractor, some serious differences still arose regarding performance, comfort, engines, transmission, axles, linkage, hydraulic couplers, and more," Drought confirms.

"It was reassuring that all judges fundamentally agreed on the key category awards — each judge had their own personal favourite and each for different reason. Fortunately all judges are used to taking an impartial viewpoint on machinery — thinking about the target market, rather than what they personally prefer to drive."

Find out which model was crowned the 2015 Top Tractor Shotoout winner


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