The Tractor Farmers Built

September 19, 2009 07:00 PM

Pam Smith, Farm Journal Seeds & Production Editor
Rob Gerstenecker eases the tractor hand throttle forward with the merest nudge. An armrest cradles his right arm and six hydraulic control valves rest within finger tip reach. In this new Challenger MT600C Series tractor, monitor displays are all within Gerstenecker's line of sight, allowing him to keep eyes on the field and the data.

This is a tractor that farmer ideas built. The design incorporates five years of research and consumer testing. "We really listened to what farmers wanted in a tractor and incorporated their ideas,” says Jason Hoult, Challenger Product Marketing Manager for high horsepower wheeled tractors. "When we started this project, we knew were behind in the high horsepower game and we wanted to change that.
"Yogi Berra said you can learn a lot just by listening and that's what we did. We heard farmers telling us that they wanted more productivity, comfort, reliability and to be environmentally friendly,” he says.
Gerstenecker, a farmer near Carlyle, Ill., recently turned out to test drive the new model at the Challenger Road Show hosted by Altorfer Ag Products in DuQuoin, Ill. The fine tuned technology and ease of operation reminded him of the Fendt tractor he currently owns. "It's simple and easy to operate. I'm looking for power, but because I also raise horseradish (in addition to corn and soybeans), I need a tractor that can give me power at slow speeds,” he says.

A new TechStar CVT with Power Management allows shifting between four field cruise speeds with the mere touch of a button on the console. This new standard feature automatically controls both the engine speed and the transmission ratio to handle the job at the most efficient level. The series features 12% more horsepower (205 PTO Horsepower- 275 PTO Horsepower) than the previous "B” series for more power to ground.
The new cab boasts 28% more space than the "B” series. Kick back and relax, because the cab is also offered with axle suspension. The "OptiRide” system can be turned off for those times when you're using a front end-loader where height control is crucial.
Go ahead and get comfortable because there's also the option of adding the OptiRide cab suspension system. A hydraulic damper and accumulator system is used on each corner of the cab to increase ride quality.
Emission standards just keep getting tougher. Hoult says the company decided not to wait until the EPA forces this issue in 2011. This new MT600C series treats downstream exhaust with Diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF), which breaks down exhaust into nitrogen and water vapor. The AGCO Sisu power diesel engine is also optimized for high performance and low particulate emissions and low fuel consumption.
Gerstenecker can't help but grin after the test drive. The stepless speed controls mean there are no shifting of gears, no jerks and no delay in traction or power. He says the tractor almost drives itself.
Watch our videos of the new Challenger series in action:

For more information on this new series of tractors,

You can email Pam Smith at

This article appeared in a recent issue of Farm Journal's Crop Technology Update eNewsletter. To sign up for a free subscription, click here.

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