Fendt tractors have formed the backbone of the machinery fleet for a North Norfolk family farm for almost 30 years. Brand strengths including superb reliability, high levels of comfort, low depreciation and excellent dealer back-up mean that the situation is unlikely to change for the foreseeable future.
Trading as the MacGregor Farming Partnership, and operating from Mill Farm, Great Witchingham, the mixed arable and livestock enterprise extends to approximately 500ha. Organic crops grown for seed are a speciality; including wheat, oats, barley and Quinoa, while conventional crops include oilseed rape, beans, peas, wheat and barley, as well as grass for grazing the farm’s pedigree Poll Dorset sheep and Beef Shorthorn cattle. Organic vegetables are included within the rotation – grown on land rented by a local producer, and there is also a large area of the farm within Mid-Tier Countryside Stewardship schemes too.
Busy tractor fleet
The farm’s busy machinery fleet includes three Fendt tractors. “We get on well with the brand and find the machines well designed and easy to use,” explained Farm Manager, Leigh Nobes. “The Thurlow Nunn Standen Fakenham depot team looks after us well – especially Area Sales Manager, Josh Taylor who is our first port of call whether we need sales, servicing or repairs. He is friendly and helpful, and always answers his phone.”
The current Fendt line-up includes a 2007 162hp 716 Vario TMS – used mainly for hedge cutting and yard work; a 200hp 720 Vario – new in 2017 and which does most of the top work and a 724 Vario with up to 237hp which was purchased in 2023.
“The 700 Vario-series tractors are incredibly versatile,” continued Leigh. “Dealers representing competitor brands have tried to tempt us away from Fendt by lending us models of similar power, but none came close to matching the performance in such a compact, lightweight and manoeuvrable package. Having used Fendt’s Vario CVT transmissions since 2003, we wouldn’t even consider a mechanical gearbox again. We have plenty of experience of Fendt reliability too, as well as the low costs of ownership resulting from the high retained values. There really is no reason to change the supplier or brand.”
Extra power and traction
The new Fendt 724 Vario replaced a 718 Vario. “In 2023, we invested in a wider, 6m Sky direct-drill, and wanted the extra power to achieve higher work rates and increase flexibility,” stressed Leigh. “We also upgraded from the Power Plus to the Profi Plus equipment level and, as well as adding extra comfort features, this includes a larger hydraulic pump with extra capacity to power the drill’s fan.”
The 724 Vario is a Gen 6 version with the latest FendtONE cab and controls. Operator, Fergus MacGregor said that being able to create and save operating profiles for different users and implements is an advantage. “My father, Duncan helps during busy periods, and although he isn’t as familiar with all the systems as Leigh and myself, he only has to select the saved profile, then the settings for the implement and task are automatically applied allowing him to get on with the work with minimal training. All the controls are extremely intuitive.”
The 720 Vario and 724 Vario are both equipped with high-performance VF tyres, capable of carrying 40% more load or operating at 40% lower inflation pressures than conventional radials of a similar size. The 724 Vario is on VF710/70R38 rear tyres, matched with VF600/65R28 fronts. “The large tyres achieve a big footprint to reduce the ground pressure and maximise traction,” explained Leigh. “Operating at lower pressures they protect the soils, and since we have been using this tractor for drilling it’s been very hard to see where the wheels travelled as crops emerge.”
Almost the perfect package
Asked if there are any aspects of the Fendt design that could be improved; Fergus commented that his only criticisms are minor. He pointed out that a pause button for the in-cab media system would be an advantage, to avoid missing musical or spoken content while on the phone or listening to the implement.
Fendt Ideal joined the fleet
During harvest 2023, a Fendt combine also joined the fleet. “We weren’t planning to replace our competitor-brand, straw walker combine yet, but when Josh offered to demonstrate the Ideal 7T rotary with a 9.15m SuperFlow header mid-harvest, we were keen to see what it could do,” continued Leigh. “Harvesting organic peas and organic wheat with high trash volumes it performed well, easily achieving an excellent sample with minimal losses, and I was immediately struck by how much more relaxed I felt after a day in the seat, compared to operating our own machine. It’s also exceptionally easy to clean between different crops and varieties which is a significant advantage for us because of the volume of seed we produce.
“We placed an order within two weeks, and the Ideal arrived in time to finish our harvest.”
Competitors can’t match the package
The strong relationship between the farm, dealer and manufacturer teams means there is little chance of the farm changing brands. “We have complete faith in Josh and the rest of the TNS team, and on the rare occasions when breakdowns have occurred in the past then Fendt UK stood by the machines even after warranties had expired.
“We don’t believe that any other brand matches the Fendt package, and the excellent retained values means the tractors are a very cost-effective option too,” Leigh concluded.