As Fendt readies the all-new 300 series, mid horsepower tractor range, John Swire speaks to a farmer in Cornwall about his experience with the outgoing 312 model.
Terence Martyn, a farmer and contractor in Cornwall, took delivery of his Fendt 312 Profi in July 2019. “It is my first Fendt, I’ve always been a John Deere man but this 312 has really impressed me,” he says. The 312 was supplied to Mr Martyn’s family business, T & VA Martyn and Son which has traded for over forty years. Three generations, including Mr Martyn’s son Dan Dan and father Trevor, operate from Little Trevisker Farm a 200-acre arable farm in St Eval, near Wadebridge in Cornwall. “The business was established by my parents in 1978 who took on the farm and digger business from my grandparents,” says Mr Martyn. “We offer contracting services over a 20-mile radius of our own arable farm here in Cornwall. We mostly do hedge cutting, drilling, spraying, round baling and ploughing,” he explains.
Mr Martyn’s fleet includes a John Deere 150R, 140R, 6230, 1120, a 1075 combine, a New Holland wheeled excavator and a six tonne Takuchi midi digger. The Fendt 312 filled a gap between the four tractors and offers Mr Martyn a mid-horsepower tractor capable of carrying out most of the loading and topping work required. However, the comparatively small Fendt has already proven it is capable of work akin to much larger machines. “We were in need of a tractor to pull a five-furrow reversible plough one day, so we gave the Fendt a try. It coped really well and did a great job. It was surprising how capable it was in the field, considering it only has 120 horsepower. I think the Vario transmission helps, you feel like there is more power available when you need it,” says Mr Martyn.
The renowned Vario transmission is a feature that Mr Martyn has come to value in the field and when loading. “When I’m loading a lorry I don’t have to use the brakes because the transmission holds the tractor, there’s no run back, you can even be loading on a slope and it just stays in place,” he says. The 312 was specified with a Fendt Profi loader and has the added benefit of an integrated load weighing function. “We can use the Fendt to load an artic grain lorry with just its standard loader, without a toe tip bucket, the reach is really impressive. The integrated load weigher also makes it easy to accurately measure the quantities we are loading,” says Mr Martyn.
The Vario transmission has been a core feature of Fendt machines since it was launched in 1996. For Mr Martyn it offers flexibility but also fuel efficiencies. “This tractor is much more fuel efficient than previous medium horsepower tractors I have owned. The fuel consumption is a real benefit. I was worried, having read some reviews, that the AdBlue consumption was going to be high and that this would take away from the fuel efficiency, but its been no different to our previous John Deere’s,” he says. “The transmission also offers a quiet and relaxed ride that is especially noticeable when using the tractor on the road,” he adds. Despite the change to Vario transmission Mr Martyn’s father, the founder of the business, is quite at home driving the new machine. “My father was sceptical, but he got to grips with it straight away.”
Mr Martyn has clocked up 400 hours in the Fendt 312 in six months. It is rarely used for road work and probably spends about 15% of its time on the road. “We use it for some trailer work but on the whole it’s used as a handler but has the added benefit of a tractor for other jobs,” explains Mr Martyn. An advantage of the 300 series for loading is the visibility created by the almost panoramic screen. “The windscreen arches into the roof without an obstructive cross bar so I get a continuous view of the front loader. It has a smaller bonnet than other tractors I have driven so its easier to judge distances. I’ve been really surprised at how such a small thing like the sloping screen can make everyday tasks that bit easier,” says Mr Martyn.
The need for tractor reliability is as important in the mid horsepower sector as with the larger machines. Fendt offers a four-year warranty with the 300 series and dealers are keen to demonstrate how dependable the tractors are. “We bought our Fendt from Alan Snow Agricultural Engineers in Holsworthy, Devon. We were pleased with the added value options that came with the 300 series, especially the weighing function on the loader. It’s good to know that there is back up should anything happen but so far the Fendt hasn’t skipped a beat.” concludes Mr Martyn.
Fendt announced the introduction of its new Fendt One concept at Agritechnica in 2019 and LAMMA in 2020. It blends a new cab with software to help both operators and farm managers carry out farming tasks more efficiently. The 300 series will be the first range of Fendt tractors to benefit from the newly designed cab which connects to a new management system. Fendt One is designed to offer farmers software capable of managing a fleet or simply improving the efficiency of a single tractor. The app-based interface allows a farm manager to programme multiple vehicles with tasks for an operator to fulfil. The data collected from these tasks is fed back to the manager and can be used to compare or evaluate farm performance.
The 300 series has been a remarkably popular range. Fendt has sold in excess of 140,000 300 series tractors. The first 300 series was released in 1980 and many of the original models are still working today. Reliability, the quintessential Fendt Vario transmission, and strong residual values have made the 300 series a go to utility tractor. The new model arrives later this year but it is clear that demand for the outgoing model is still high. Fendt will be hoping that the new cab with its connectivity will continue the strong lineage of the 300 series in an ever increasingly competitive mid horsepower tractor market.