Testing: John Deere 7R 350 Tractor-Farmers Weekly

2021-12-16 08:01:02 By : Mr. Jason Tse

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Not long ago, 350hp was a reserve for crawlers and equal wheel grassland monsters, strictly used for farming and drilling tasks, but a new type of high-horsepower traditional wheeled tractor is now taking over, bringing a broader skill set.

See also: The ultimate guide to buying a tractor in 2021

One of the pioneers in this field is Fendt's 939, which is the first choice for many large arable farms, whose employment can shift from transporting grain one day to drilling the next day.

It was launched in 2010 and is Fendt's most sought-after 900 series tractor, accounting for about 40% of the 100 tractors sold each year-good business and not overlooked by competitors.

Massey Ferguson, Valtra, CNH brands and Claas now all have machines that are closely related to the 939 power and weight statistics, but it is only now that John Deere has proposed an important competitor-its new flagship 7 series model, the 7R 350 Gen 2.

The previous 7 series tractors struggled with reliability issues, and none of the old models could match the power of the 939.

However, Deere now has a stronger hand, got rid of the historical engine pixie, and added a customizable Command Pro joystick, which itself has many similarities with the joysticks installed on tractors manufactured by Fendt's Marktoberdorf .

As before, the 7R series contains five models, but the smallest 7R 250 has been deleted to make room for the 350.

There are rumors that the 7R 270 in the middle road may also be in trouble-if so, it will reduce Deere's 7R series to a quartet, starting with the 7R 290, with the new flagship 7R 350 leading the features in this test.

Compared with the upcoming 7R tractor, the biggest change is that the new cab is also equipped with 8R and 9R variants, as well as the recent large-scale 9R. The more popular 6R series in the future is likely to follow suit, although the design must adapt to a smaller frame.

The car company BMW was selected to help Deere shape a new look and bring some car-like luxuries.

For example, the appearance adopts a more fashionable appearance and neatly integrates up to 22 LED lights instead of putting them outside as before.

Other neat exterior additions include the built-in LED road transport beacons, which abut the cab and lower the overall height, so there is almost no chance of hitting them on hanging branches.

Anyone who likes their Greenstar hardware for rash intrusion will be happy to see that the Starfire 6000 receiver is now integrated into the roof.

However, this does mean that they can no longer be transferred between machines.

Compared with the standard 6000 receiver, the "towing time" of these new dome cameras is shortened by 10 minutes and can achieve 100% signal and accuracy.

There is still an option to run the transferable dome, and Deere said it will continue production because it has a considerable share of the renovation market.

We encountered some problems when setting up a brand new machine, so the dealer’s ability to connect directly to the screen and solve the problem in a few seconds can save hours of downtime.

Three calibration signals are still available, SF1 is standard and provides an accuracy of 15cm.

SF3 allows users to reduce to 3 cm, and the most popular RTK option is a repeatable 2.5 cm-about 80% of new tractors have this feature when they leave the factory.

A small and convenient change is that the door handle can now be reached from the ground so that the operator does not have to climb half of the steps before opening the door.

The rungs have also been modified to provide a wider passage than before, and although there are five steps to the cab, you will not want to get in and out too much.

The beautiful electric rearview mirror provides a good rear view, but it looks expensive to replace.

Current users may think that Deere's previous 7R cab is the last word in terms of comfort and technology, but somehow the company managed to raise it to the next level.

Most obviously, the slightly monotonous brown color scheme of the 1980s has been replaced by more pleasing gray products.

Three decoration levels-Select Premium, Ultimate and the new Signature version-are available-bringing a variety of comfort features and technical advantages.

Our test tractor adopts top signature design, including full leather, LED light bag, automatic closing device, etc.

The new Active Comfort Seat has also been adjusted, removing all hydraulic components and replacing it with a fully electronic setting to solve some of the problems the company noticed in the old design.

Inside the left armrest is the seat setting, including two massage functions, heating and cooling function brackets, and lumbar support.

The seat can be rotated 43 degrees, and the command arm cleverly bypasses the steering column and side panels.

Compared to the previous model, the redesigned steering column has additional heating and cooling vents, and the indicator bar can now activate the three-blink mode with just a tap—just like most modern cars. The heating and ventilation system is now located behind the seats instead of on the roof.

There is no virtual dashboard, which is a significant part of the recent redesign of Fendt, New Holland and Case IH, but we like the barrier-free A-pillar design that Deere has used for many years.

The 4600 Command Center touch screen is almost flawless. If the Command Pro joystick box is specified (£896, and more than 90% of Waterloo models use this option), there is little change except for a slight adjustment of the spool valve.

DAB radio has its own roof screen © MAG/Edward Mowbray

Start is now a reminder key, so there is no need to fix it in place when the engine crank is turning, and the shuttle lever on the left is designed to return to the center instead of gated as before.

The parking position is realized by a button on the command arm.

On the roof is a new 6.5-inch touch screen radio display, which makes phone and audio connections simpler, and removes functions from the main screen, which is an unnecessary complication.

This smaller screen can also be mounted on a 4600 monitor to run the camera at the front or back.

There are fewer changes under the hood.

The 9-liter six-cylinder John Deere engine is still used to power most 7-series and 8-series tractors.

This is driven by the Autopowr IVT continuously variable transmission, which is the only gearbox available on the 7R 350.

However, Deere has teased more grunts from the block, so the rated power is now 350hp and the maximum power is 385hp.

Intelligent power management (boost) pushes it to 388 horsepower.

All of the company's machines still maintain a 10% power expansion, which means that as the engine speed drops, the output can continue.

Emissions are processed by diesel oxidation catalyst (DOC), selective catalytic reduction (SCR) and diesel particulate filter (DPF).

A notable change is the relocation of these components to the side exhaust pipes to help the engine dissipate heat, which is a source of frustration for operators who are pierced by hot mist in their eyeliner.

However, we did find that the size of the fuel tank was a limiting factor.

Since the 350 will lose more than 60 liters per hour when working hard, a 515 liter tank rarely lasts a full 8 hours.

Bowser needs spares every day to keep it in the field and avoid time-consuming short trips back to the yard, which is a very real disadvantage for those planning to do a lot of drilling and cultivation work.

In contrast, the Fendt 939 frame contains a 625-liter container.

The higher seating position allows you to enjoy the view, but you need to stretch to gaze from behind.

One of the frustrations here is that when reversing to the tool, for a better look, the electronic handbrake is applied when slightly raised from the seat.

The frustrating thing is that the sensitivity or time of the application cannot be adjusted.

For those who buy special planters on the market, the 8 Series Deere weighs more than 11.4 tons with a weight of 13.8 tons and is still the best of the two.

Other than that, it is only slightly longer (3,050 mm compared to 2,925 mm for the 7R), which is not a problem for most operators.

During our field test, we tried to replace the 2016 8345R on the host farm with the 7R 350 on a nine-ditch Kverneland plow. The plow was set to work at a depth of 8 inches and the furrow was opened to 16 inches.

The running speed is about 8 km/h (slightly lower than the level of the 8 series), but compared to larger tractors, it feels less stable and drifts up and down more frequently within the speed range.

Due to the lighter frame, wheel slip has increased by approximately 5%.

In terms of power, it is very close to the 8R 340. The price of the 8R 340 is several times higher than that of the 7R 350 at 278,228 pounds. It also offers Deere's e23 transmission option, which is very suitable for planting work.

Although not a new option, Active Command Steering II allows the operator to reduce the locked steering during headland dives and change the responsiveness of the system.

For only £974, the buyer can also specify a software adjustment to reduce the rocking motion caused by the plunger on the large square baler.

It uses data from the Starfire receiver and baler sensors and a self-learning controller to set up the Autopowr transmission to increase or decrease its speed according to the plunger. 

7R 350 has an excellent new working space, outperforms the previous generation in terms of comfort, and once again raises the bar in terms of connectivity and backup.

However, it would be nice to choose Deere's e23 gearbox, especially if the tractor is destined to do a lot of farming work.

Our biggest criticism (and not many) is the fuel tank capacity-most operators want to complete more than 8 hours of work on site before they need to fill up.

There is no doubt that it is a strong competitor in a highly competitive market, but you must abide by discipline when placing an order-our test model is worth more than £66,000.

Note: The price is taken from FW's "Ultimate Guide to Tractors 2021" and is quoted as a basic specification

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