Many NSW growers were first to see the high-powered Russian made K-744R Kirovets tractor at the 2017 Henty Machinery Field Days. Kirovets’ head service manager Andrey Sagaev flew all the way from Russia to attend the tractor’s local launch.
The K-744R articulated model from Kirovets generates power up 315kW (428hp) from a Mercedes Benz engine and a price tag much lower than industry competitors.
Modifications for local work conditions include 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, and 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. Craig worked for the original importer 35 years ago when the Kirovets factory made models sold under the Belarus badge, so is familiar with the product.
He was looking for technicians with knowledge of Belarus tractors when he came across Stuart Mirtschin from Mirtschin Ag Repairs Wodonga Vic, a specialist repairer of Russian tractors. The pair teamed up to present Kirovets tractors to the public at Henty.
“Their whole pitch is price – they have a 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 221kW (300hp) model. While prices range up to $221,000 for the 17-tonnes 315kW (428hp) model fitted with a Mercedes engine and optional PTO.
A 315kW (428hp) 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 – and 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 309kW (420hp) 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 ford rivers and be maintained in the paddock. “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 plains of Kazakhstan where private farms are up to 60,000ha and yields average 1.5-3 tonnes/ha. “The Russians use it as a year round machine pulling chaser bins, ploughing and harrowing, for typically 1500 to 3000 hours a year,’’ Mr Milne said.
There has been plenty of interest in the Kirovets and the first shipment is expected to be sold to the confirmed strong leads gained since the demonstration model landed.
A mini articulated 177kW (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. “We are not looking to dominate the market but stay here long term.’’
Contact Craig Milne of APCO Machinery on tel: 1300 985 065 or Stuart Mirtschin from Mirtschin Ag Repairs Wodonga Vic on tel: 02 6024 3363.