NSW growers had their first look at the new Russian manufactured high horsepower Kirovets tractor at the 2017 Henty Machinery Field Days.
Kirovets’ head service manager Andrey Sagaev flew to Australia especially to attend the tractor’s launch at Henty.
The newly imported 428hp Kirovets articulated model, the K-744R, features a Mercedes Benz engine and a price tag much lower than industry competitors.
Australian modifications have included a heavier drawbar and higher clearance between the wheels and frame.
The tractors are imported by APCO Machinery, a subsidiary of the Australian Productivity Council, established to offer practical, well-made and reliable equipment to farmers at a much lower price.
Australian Productivity Council’s Craig Milne said the Henty showcase followed up on a launch into the Australian market at the Wimmera and Mallee field days.
Mr Milne had worked for the original importer 35 years ago of Kirovets farm machinery and was familiar with the product.
He was looking for technicians with knowledge of the Belarus tractors when he came across Wodonga’s Stuart Mirtschin, Mirtschin Ag Repairs, a specialist repairer of the Russian machinery.
The pair teamed up to present the new Kirovets tractor to the public at Henty.
“Their whole pitch is price – they have simple transmission with a locking axle and pull efficiently,’’ Mr Milne said.
“They last longer as they are precision made but simple and inexpensive to service.
“It’s not that modern tractors don’t last a long time – the computer hardware and software ages.
“Our theory is you buy a Kirovets and keep it 15 to 20 years to get out of the flip-it-every-five-years cycle.
“Buy a tractor, pay it off and leave it in the shed for at least 15 years – it’s a different approach.’’
Mr Milne said there was plenty of potential interest from growers at Henty, with a factory special price of $148,000 for the 300hp model.
Prices range up to $221,000 for the 17-tonne 428hp model fitted with a Mercedes engine and optional PTO.
A 435hp model with a Tier 4 engine is designed for the European and Canadian markets.
“They all have three point linkage on the rear as standard and a heavy duty drawbar,’’ Mr Milne said.
“We have this tractor fitted with a 32 inch European style wheel – it’s a smallish wheel normally seen on combines with a low pressure soft, fat tyre.
“But, we might look at 38 inch wheels for Australia – tracks are an option.’’
Mr Milne said the Kirovets could be retrofitted with a variety of precision guidance systems and was ISOBUS compatible.
“The only computer on this tractor is the ECL (engine coolant level) sensor on the Mercedes engine,’’ he said.
“The Russian version is an old school engine able to run on chip fat – we have been surprised as we thought Aussies would only buy a Mercedes engine.
“But, a lot of interest has been about the 420 hp Russian engine as it’s quite a bit cheaper at $185,000.
“The engine is not rubbish, it’s a big 17-litre V8 military engine used in armoured personnel carriers.
“It’s simple as it can forward rivers and be maintained in the field.
“There’s plenty of people who like old school, simple tractors they can work on themselves.’’
Mr Milne said the Kirovets typically worked the large wheat fields of Kazakhstan where private farms are up to 60,000 ha and yields average 1.5-3 tonnes/ha.
“The Russians use it as a year round machine pulling chaser bins, tillaging and harrowing, for typically 1500 to 3000 hours a year,’’ Mr Milne said.
A Kirovets is yet to be sold on Australian soil but he has confirmed a dozen strong leads since the K-744R landed with plans to hold demonstration days.
A mini articulated 240hp version is scheduled for next year’s Wimmera Field Days.
“I want to get a few tractors out and look after people – we are not impatient as we are here to stay,’’ Mr Milne said.
“They are not looking to dominate the market but stay here long term.’’