Massey Ferguson MF5609 review
The scoresheet declared the Massey Ferguson MF5609 as the winner of the 2016 Top Tractor Shootout. Judge Jaiden Drought reports.
Massey Ferguson MF5609
After many mathematical equations, the Massey Ferguson MF5609 tractor won the 2016 Top Tractor Shootout award, with only 0.01 points separating it from the second-placed Deutz Fahr 5105.4G.
Hopefully after reading this article, you will see there was some rationale behind our decision, rather than a random decision by a cowboy boot-wearing cow cocky from New Zealand and his much more sensible Australian offsider. If not, I apologise in advance.
Only weeks before we cracked into the testing the new Massey Ferguson, the company celebrated 70 years since the first little grey Ferguson TE20 rolled off the line in Coventry, UK.
Massery Ferguson tractors has built over 500,000 in a 10-year period. Significance? As we’ve seen with the invention of the PTO in the Case IH Farmall’s heritage, the thing that made the TE (Tractor England) 20 a global success was the unique ‘Ferguson System’ three-point linkage, which was controlled by the tractor’s hydraulics.
Rated at only 20hp, the TE20 outperformed many larger tractors as the linkage system allowed the tractor and implement to work as one rather than the inefficient trailing-unit system.
From its brilliant sloping bonnet (which makes loader work a doddle), to its three rear spools, the MF5609 packs a heap of features into a small space.
All these years later, Massey are still bucking the trend, as this was the only tractor in the line-up to have a three-cylinder engine during our hoon – I mean drive – around the track, but the little AGCO Power 3.3-litre donk performed well (even though it sounded a little different to its four-cylinder rivals).
This engine has been specifically designed for ag work. Three fuel filters down to five micron, oil change intervals of 500 engine and 1000 transmission, and a rear sight glass for transmission oil level make both longevity and daily servicing a walk in the park.
The electronically-controlled, common-rail fuel injection, combined with four valves per cylinder, all combined to give us one of those perky little tractors that was quick off the mark, held on well, and lugged down under load.
A 160-litre fuel tank will keep you going even if you have to get the candles out. Not sure if you Aussies work at night, but if you do, 12 lights around the tractor will keep you from driving into a billabong.
The Dyna 4 transmission has been around for over a decade now, and is very user-friendly and functional. There’s a left-hand power control, a T-stick on the right-hand console, and factory loader joystick control.
A brake-to-neutral feature is something that a couple of the tractors in the shootout had – as soon as the brake is pressed, it simultaneously operates the clutch. This is very good for normal loader work, but I never really got to take full advantage as I was trying to set a personal best lap record.
It also automatically defaults to the off position every time you turn the tractor off, so precious seconds at the start of the laps weren’t about to be sacrificed.
One thing that was handy to allow smooth progress on the Massey Ferguson MF5609 was the de-clutch button on the back of the factory loader joystick. It also has gear changes and a shuttle button on it, which was great for both loading the hay and shifting the bark.
Speed matching is also fitted as standard, and although the Dyna-6 is maybe a more popular transmission, I really like the 16x16 Dyna-4. Not too many gears to change, but enough to get the job done.
Another feature I never knew the Massey Ferguson MF5609 had – but which Tom made full use of – was the anti-stall function. This places the transmission in N when the revs drop below a certain point and the tractor senses it will stall, which is a great feature for loader work.
A flow of 58L/min of oil is available for linkage and spools. While it is almost half the John Deere’s 110L/min, this never felt like you were waiting on the loader, and to be fair to the little Massey, it also has a 32L/min steering pump to keep plenty in reserve for loader work.
The Massey was the only tractor fitted with three rear spools as standard. Two have a float feature, and all have detent and constant flow.
PTO of 540/540E/1000 will prove ample for a tractor of this size and the work it will tackle. Electronic control in the cab and a stop/start button on the rear fender is a handy feature.
Auto PTO is standard. Once activated, it will stop the PTO when the linkage arms are raised above a certain point and re-engage once they are re-lowered in order to save the knuckles on the old PTO drive shaft.
Speaking of linkage, activating it wasn’t the most complicated of the bunch, although it came very close, and some others offered a much more simple solution. However, with electronic linkage control, it does offer more power adjustment on the MF 5609.
The pick of the features would be Active Transport Control (ATC), which essentially a shock absorber for the linkage – excellent for heavy implements, and makes road travel a much more comfortable affair.
In terms of the hardware itself, the Cat. 2 linkage will lift 4.3 tonnes at the ball ends, which will prove to be ample. External lift/lower controls on both the right and left hand fenders makes hitching implements involve considerably less swearing.
In the cab
It felt good climbing up the Massey Ferguson 5609’s stairs to the large, chunky doors, and starting to mould the seat for a hard day’s work, with the sleek, slim dashboard and the sloping bonnet proving that visibility would be no barrier. Aside from the actual driving, the quality in the cab was a standout feature for me.
This cab can be found on the Massey Ferguson 5600, 6600 and 7600 series tractor (to be honest, the new series is also very similar), but this uniformity across the line-up often means the smaller tractors get the biggest advantage because almost all 150hp+ tractors have nice cabs.
Not just the finish, but it’s the little things I like – such as the big mirrors, which is something I think is really important, and the comfortable seat.
Price-based tractors are often skimped wherever they can, but if you value your spine and, like me, don’t enjoy your teeth being shaken out of your head, then invest in a good seat because you won’t go back.
The six-pillar cab provides a narrower rear window, but this allows for the curved side windows to give unobstructed views both left and right, which is great for larger rear implements.
Adjustment of the steering position allows both tilting and extending, which, as a tall person, is something I find makes life a lot more comfortable. The right-hand B pillar is where the working lights, 4WD, diff and rear linkage settings sit. They are all push-button and, again, bring a nice finish to the cab.
The dot-matrix system in the dash, where adjustment can be made to transmission start gears, 10 different shuttle aggression settings, brake to neutral and many more, is something that sets the Massey apart. In fairness, this does take a little time to get acquainted with, but the option is there to adjust, rather than not having the option at all.
On the Job
Just about all Massey Ferguson tractors of this size are ordered as ‘loader ready’ and come with a range of factory-fitted features, which means just the boom needs to be fitted. The 956X loader allows for full integration with pre-installed pipes to the spool valves – again, the finish of the machine was hard to fault.
Driving the machine during our test, the visibility of the bonnet and the comfort in the cab were both standouts for me.
The joystick for the loader, with the integrated transmission gear changes, shuttle, de-clutch button as well as third and fourth function, really allowed me to just use my right hand to control the tractor and my left to do the steering. This is important when personal best times are on the line, but I’m sure around the farm you will also find these features very handy.
The turning circle on the Massey, once we ran the tape measure across it, was disappointing at 9.0m. Although, to be honest, it didn’t feel like you were turning a barge through the tight course. (I may or may not have been using generous doses of side brake.)
This, I suspect, is due to the machine not having the full pre-delivery treatment. As the only tractor specced with dynamic front fenders, combined with the factory fitted loader sub-frames, this thing should have been able to turn on a dime.
Value for money is such a subjective argument. Is it the cheapest? Is it the dearest with the most spec? In this instance, the Massey Ferguson MF5609 is neither of those. But with the 30-point scoring process added to the driving time, and divided by the price, it came out to be the best value for money in our eyes.
This was a robust system where Tom and I really only filled in the scoresheet, raced around the track and threw country-related insults at each other. The scoresheet decided the Massey was the winner and, given the way it performed during the testing, there wasn’t any complaining out of us – which is surprising given there was an Aussie in the judging panel!
- Excellent build quality and finish
- Large wing mirrors
- High quality tyres and guards
- Loader integrated joystick was very user-friendly
- Tom made full use of the anti-stall feature
- Brake to N function
- Very comfortable seat and cab environment
- Excellent visibility via the sloping bonnet
- Large number of work lights
- Three-speed PTO
- Button cluster on right B pillar was very convenient
- 4.3-tonne rear lift will prove ample
- Only tractor to be standard with three spools (two with float)
- Auto Battery Isolator once key is turned off
- Full dish rear rims will reduce paint flaking and cracking
- Rear sight glass for transmission oil
- Dust caps on the rear spools would be much better with the sprung caps
- Dot-matrix in-cab information is hard to navigate around
- Toolbox is in an unpractical location
- Rear linkage activation is a little tricky
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