Kirovets put to work in the Wimmera

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Wimmera farmers got the chance to see the Kirovets 744R at work, with the Russian brute put to work ahead of a 60-foot seeder bar on a Dimboola property. Source: The Weekly Times

It was a demonstration organised by Craig Milne, who is importing the tractors through the Australian Productivity Council. He said about 20 people came to see it in action during on the day, including former Belarus owners.

“We had some old ex-Belarus drivers there (who) commented that the Kirovets was better made,” Mr Milne said.

Kirovets came into Australia a few decades ago under the Belarus brand and Mr Milne said after visiting the factory a year ago he thought there was scope for a return.

‘The advances have been evolutionary, but the real changes have been at the factory, where the production standards are now world-class,” he said. But he said he did not expect the Kirovets to take much market share from major players in terms of specification.

“We’re not competing against the market leaders in terms of refinement — the Kirovets is a simple and functional machine,” he said.

“The Kirovets use mechanical systems and only one computer (on the engine) — basically an old design, but modernised where needed.

“It’s a robust tractor with a locking axle so it’s fairly efficient and pulls very well and it’s about 60% of the price of an equivalently powered tractor, but you do lose some of the features.”

In current form, it has a constant-mesh, hydromechanical transmission (16 forward/eight reverse within four ranges) operated with floor-mounted levers.

The 428hp that went through that transmission at the demonstration was supplied by a 12.8-litre, six-cylinder Mercedes-Benz turbo-diesel engine, though they can also come with a 17.5-litre, V8 Tutaevsky power-plant.

“The Mercedes engine was a talking point during the demonstration with its flat torque response,” Mr Milne said. “It’s not a big engine at 13 litres, but it worked very well.”

He said they achieved 16km/h with single wheels hauling the 60-foot (18m) bar that was fitted with nine-inch tines.

The tractor has a floating drawbar and category IV three-point linkage with Walterscheid lower links fitted as standard, along with load-sensing Bosch Rexroth 180 litre per minute hydraulics. Duals and a 1000rpm PTO, with a choice of three output shafts, are optional extras.

The Kirovets is also imported ready to be fitted with autosteer and Mr Milne said that there would be changes to the cab in future models.

“We’ll have a more modern cab, which is quieter than the current one and will include a new transmission selector for changing through the gears in each range,” he said, adding that changing ranges required the tractor to be stationary.

Mr Milne also pointed to an expansion in the range of Kirovets products in Australia.

“A smaller version is coming in about 18 months, rated at 180-240hp (132-176kW), which will have a road speed of 50km/h and a new Austrian-designed diesel engine,” he said. “There’s also a 500hp (367kW) version in the pipeline with CVT, also probably 18 months off.”