When JCB introduced the new ‘Stage V’ version of the Fastrac 4000 Series tractors, technical changes were not limited to engines that met the latest emissions rules.

Uprated axles, high-performance tyre options and some detail changes brought increased payload and gross vehicle weight figures to enhance the performance potential of a machine featuring a package of unique features and renowned for its operator ride comfort.

Farmer and contractor, Peter Allen, has clocked a fair few hours with the latest models as he is running two of the newest Fastrac 4220 tractors for his stubble-to-stubble and other contracting services supplied across more than 2,500 acres of arable land in Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire and Cambridgeshire.

“We’ve run Fastracs for a long time and now don’t have any other makes of tractor on the farm,” Mr Allen pointed out. “We started with a Fastrac to go faster legally on the road and it proved very nimble getting from job to job, as well as safer with the ABS anti-lock braking.

“But we soon found it’s as good as any tractor in the field as well. For its versatility and performance on a wide range of jobs, I’d put the Fastrac up against any other tractor without question.”

Contract work undertaken ranges from heavy tasks such as ploughing and subsoiling to faster, lighter operations like mowing and spraying.

The business – P Allen Services – operates no fewer than five disc and tine drills to suit different crops, situations and conditions, whether sowing on ploughed ground, into a minimum tillage seedbed or drilling direct into stubbles and cover crops with a lot of vegetation.

Typically clocking up more than 1000 hours a year, each Fastrac is covered by a five-year JCB extended warranty package – for which Mr Allen chose 6000 hours for the 4220s and 5000 hours for the larger, more powerful 8330 he also runs.

The cover means he is insured against unexpected major repairs, so the business can accurately budget the overall cost of ownership for the duration.

Versatility of operation is the key to the JCBs usefulness to Peter Allen

Versatility of operation is the key to the JCB's usefulness to Peter Allen

His first Fastrac 4220 clocked up 7000 hours across five years and introduced him to the new design’s Command Plus cab, stepless transmission and active suspension front and rear, which keeps the tractor level and weight more evenly distributed regardless of where implements or ballast are located.

Now, that machine has been replaced by a ‘Stage V’ version – and joined by a second one – which in addition to meeting more stringent EU emissions rules, has heavier duty axles better suited to working with dual wheels, new low pressure/higher load rating tyres, and increased payload and permitted gross vehicle weight.

Versatility is a key attraction: “The Fastrac does every job we want it to do, whether it’s field work or trailer work or operating a loader as a back-up to our Loadall telehandler when it’s busy,” said Mr Allen.

“We do a lot of direct drilling of winter crops and when it’s working with our 6m, five-tonne hopper disc drill, the Fastrac 4220 doesn’t really know it’s there,” he added. “Over the previous model, it’s got much better torque, it picks up speed much quicker in the field and pulls better on the road.”

Mr Allen also highlights advantages of the Fastrac’s full suspension, not only in terms of its well-known contribution to operator comfort but also to the tractor’s field performance.

“We feel it gives us more grip on the field and less compaction because the weight is balanced and spread more evenly,” he added. “And it tows our 6000-litre, 36m trailed sprayer really smoothly – with a conventional tractor, any movement over the surface goes through the drawbar to the sprayer but that doesn’t happen with the smooth-riding Fastrac; it pulls the sprayer much better.

“With the hours we do, operator comfort is very important and from the all-round suspension we get a much nicer ride; together with the stepless transmission and GPS steering, it all makes for an easier day’s driving with much less driver fatigue.”

The CVT transmission also has a big impact on the tractor’s performance and fuel economy, he added: “With a powershift tractor we ran, you couldn’t always get the right speed for a job because of the gap between the ratios.

“But with CVT you can use all the horsepower you’ve got at any speed you want for optimum productivity and fuel efficiency.”