The ongoing transition from judging a tractor by its mechanical fundamentals to assessing is capabilities by its digital technology is being led by John Deere, and the latest 5ML series underlines the point nicely.

These new models are specialist tractors, designed chiefly for orchard and vineyard work. They come ready not only for front loaders, but may also be fully equipped for auto guidance and data streaming on a plug and play basis.

Tech to the fore

It is these virtues that John Deere immediately brings to our attention, instead of the 134hp available from the flagship 5130ML, or the fact that it has choice of transmissions and a respectable rear-lift capacity of 4,900kg.

Starting, as the company does, with the electronics, it is noted that a dominant feature is the integrated AutoTrac guidance system.

The display for this feature has been integrated directly into the tractor’s dashboard, which eliminates the need for an additional activation or display.

With this option installed, the 5ML makes it possible to combine different work steps. The guidance system should enable the driver to deliver a consistent quality of work, being able to concentrate on the implements as the tractor itself stays on track.

No more paperwork

The software also allows for full documentation of the work being done and tasks may be programmed into the system from the office.

By doing so, the work programme is displayed and the tractor is automatically guided just as soon as the operator confirms that he has entered the relevant field.

5ml tractor digital cab
The cab may be fully equipped for automatic guidance and record keeping

By connecting to the John Deere Operations Centre, the 5ML can utilise software applications from partner companies, allowing site-specific farming specifically for high-value crops.

Doing so allows the use of inputs to be better targeted, reducing production costs. Thus, John Deere claims, that the 5ML is a pioneer in precision farming for high-value crops.

5ML mechanicals

A 4.5L four-cylinder engine, with a torque rise of 30%, provides the power for motion as well as a hydraulic output of 117L/min.

This flow rate allows implements with high hydraulic power requirements to be connected directly to the tractor hydraulics without the need for an externally power take-off (PTO)-driven pump.

The category four-cab filter system integrated into the roof of the driver’s cab is available as an option and provides protection against dust, aerosols and hazardous vapours.