FARMERS who want to go back to simpler times and servicing might find a fit with Russian company Kirovets.
The cheap, high horsepower tractors were showcased at the Henty, Wimmera and Mallee machinery field days,with Kirovets’ head service manager Andrey Sagaev on hand for the launch.
The tractors, built in St Petersburg are imported by Apco Machinery, a subsidiary of the Australian Productivity Council, which despite its name is a fully privatised business.
Styled by Kirovets as the “workers tractor”, the import has had Australian modifications made including a heavier drawbar and higher clearance between the wheels and frame.
Australian Productivity Council, executive director, Craig Milne said the tractors are an inexpensive and simple alternative for farmers.
“Their whole pitch is price – they have simple transmission with a locking axle and pull efficiently,’’ he 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 in the various models.
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
The K-744R range has a range of horsepower and engines available.
The K-744R premium range feature an inline-6 Mercedes Benz engine available in 260, 295 and 315 kilowatts.
While the standard range features as Russian V8 Tutayevsky engine ranging from 220-309 kW.
“They all have three point linkage on the rear as standard and a heavy duty drawbar,’’ said Mr Milne.
“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.
“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.’’