Mark Wilson is a broadacre farmer from Dalwallinu in Western Australia. “I’m as far from Geraldton as I am from Perth,” he says.
“We’ve got a couple of other utility tractors but the Versatile does all of the heavy lifting on the property. We’ve had it for two seasons and it has done about 1,100 hours.”
Mark crops anywhere between 4,000 to 5,000 hectares, with an emphasis on wheat, barley, canola, chick peas, legumes and field peas at times. The total farm area now is considerably larger than the original family property. It needed a lot of work.
“We bought the Versatile because we were getting a lot of slippage,” Mark says, “and we need to do deep ripping. We decided to go to a track machine to reduce the wheel slip and because we needed a deeper rip to a deeper level.”
He uses inclusion plates to churn some of the top soil down because of sub-soil acidity. With his previous machine, Mark reckons there was only ten to twelve per cent traction; it simply couldn’t tow with the plates.
“They use a lot more horsepower and it takes a lot of power to pull them through the ground,” he says. “We couldn’t get the traction to the ground. The Versatile has basically solved all of these problems. The Parker monitor on it shows us that we’re only working 60 to 70 per cent of the engine’s power, and that’s through dry soil, wet soil, any conditions that we’ve had.”
When not ripping, Mark drives the DeltaTrack 620 to pull an 18 metre DVS with a 22,000 litre air cart. The entire property – all 4,000 hectares – is seeded with the 620.
“With the Versatile I’ve got traction up my sleeve and power up my sleeve. The gearbox is bulletproof and beautifully smooth. My 620 is fully optioned, fully weighted and I would say it’s the best tractor on the market.”
Mark made the purchase through McIntosh & Son in Geraldton. He states firmly that back up service was a very important part of his buying decision. What also helped was the offer of a trip to Winnipeg, Canada, to visit the place of manufacture.
“It was really amazing to see the Versatile factory; it was so different to what I expected,” he says. “We got to talk to the guys and get into a little more depth of where the company is going. I got a handle on their whole picture – I’ve got some heart for those guys.”
Ultimately, however, it was a pragmatic business decision. It has to be, with this level of capital investment. He looked at other brands, other models, did the numbers and weighed up the pros and cons.
“When it came to buying the 620, I didn’t need convincing,” Mark says. “But I did my homework and laid everything out. What do I want? What’s important to me? I wanted a decent warranty, I wanted power and I wanted a tractor that was going to be supported. Versatile have got mileage on their side and they’ll be around to service it.”