It’s over for another year, the annual agricultural pilgrimage to the Ploughing.
The growing phenomenon of the temporary showroom city in a field continues to attract record numbers.
It’s a strange place, and strange things can be seen. One week before the Ploughing, IFA led a farmers’ protest outside Aldi in Tullamore against unfair supply chain pricing.
Less than six days later, farmers queued outside the Aldi stand in a field near Tullamore, not to protest but to get free blue stetson hats and food samples.
And where else in the world could you buy a slurry tank and high end perfume within metres of each other?
While a proportion of the crowd are happy to spend the day chasing Marty Morrissey selfies and free food samples, for many, the event doesn’t start until they reach the machinery section.
In this area, it’s each to their own. Merchandise is sold like football strips, as fans want to show off their favourite brands colours.
Of course, there are also the unofficial logo and slogan merchandise: “If she’s not red, keep it in the shed”, or “It won’t do if it’s not blue”, or “Fear the Deere”.
When it comes to attractions in this arena, the rules are simple, the bigger the better.
Fendt 1050 Vario
It is no surprise then that the 517hp Fendt 1050 Vario was one of the biggest draws at this year’s event.
With the Fendt’s tyres as high as an average adult (they are normally fitted as a standard rear tyre on other tractors), it was a beast that demanded attention.
It dwarfed the 700 series beside it, an impressive tractor in its own right.
The 1050 Vario made elderly men look like teenagers at a One Direction concert as they posed on the top step with one hand on the door smiling for their picture.
We will have to wait and see if one ever works in a field in Ireland in private hands, as the tractor has a long pre-order waiting list, and a price tag near €400,000 before VAT.
Massey Ferguson 8737
Another highlight for many was from another one of the Agco brands, Massey Ferguson.
Some of the die-hard MF fans may have to rewrite the ‘If she’s not red’ slogan, because the Massey Ferguson 8737 in special black livery at the Ploughing turned a lot of heads.
This 8737 Dyna VT with grey trim can be boosted to close to 400 horse power, making it the most powerful tractor in the current Massey Ferguson line-up.
It had been specially prepared by Massey Ferguson with striking black paintwork to pay homage to the prototype Ferguson Black tractor of 1933, and the market launch model of 1936, 80 years ago.
The 8737 Dyna VT retails in the region of €250,000 plus VAT.
JCB Fastrac 4220
Speaking of anniversaries, the JCB Fastrac is celebrating 25 years in production this year.
Their current range topper, the JCB Fastrac 4220, was in attendance at Tullamore too.
Keeping true to the roots of the Fastrac ideal, the 4220 is designed for high road transport speeds with comfort, with features to improve fieldwork, in answer to some previous criticisms.
The 6 litre, six cylinder engine delivers 235 hp.
The tractor boasts a unique self-levelling rear axle suspension that is now matched by a new hydraulic front system.
This yellow dual-purpose tractor costs €160,000 plus VAT.
Case IH Optum 300 CVX
Not wanting to be out done in the ‘size matters’ battle, Case IH had the Optum 300 CVX on their stand.
This mean, red machine can be boosted up to 315hp.
The Optum CVX were the first of the Case IH ranges to incorporate the new bonnet and rear fender styling, plus eye-catching signature lighting.
The continuously variable transmission ensures excellent power to the ground and impressive traction.
It is slower than some of other tractors featured here, with a 50k/h box.
It retails at €195,000 plus VAT, with front linkage.
New Holland CX8.70
For sheer size, combines always draw large numbers at machinery events.
New Holland gave room on their stand for the CX8.70 combine, which is the smaller model in the six-straw-walker CX8 series range.
The 374hp machine can be fitted with a 7.32 metre header and a 9,500 or 11,500 litre grain capacity tank.
Claas Lexion 630
Another combine of note at Tullamore was the Claas Lexion 630 straw-walker model. For next season, the Lexion 600 range will have an upgrade. It will benefit from the latest fuel-efficient Mercedes-Benz T4F engine.
Another new feature for the 2017 season will include an auto crop flow control to decrease the risk of blockages.
This feature is designed to give the operator confidence to increase throughput with the machine — something that tillage farmers would love to have as this year’s harvest season drags on.
An auto slope control will automatically control the fan speed relative to the angle of the combine.
This feature is designed to avoid losses, and improve sample quality when operating on gradients.
One of the biggest crowds around a machine at the Ploughing Championships was attracted not because it was the biggest or the newest, but because it was a classic — a New Holland 110-90 which the ever popular Grassmen stand raffled for charity.
A reported €150,000 was raised for the Make-A-Wish charity through ticket sales at the three-day event, as well as other select events.
On Thursday at the event, the draw was made, and the lucky €5 ticket was held by John Quinlan from Waterford.
The 2016 National Ploughing Championship did not disappoint the young and old machinery lovers of Ireland.
While some manufacturers have decided to concentrate on demonstration type and local showcase events, there is still plenty of large attractions to please all the machinery tyre kickers of Ireland.
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