Operators of big biogas plants, as well as large-scale silage and muck spreading contractors, will likely be the main buyers of JCB’s new flagship wheeled loading shovel.

The 20-tonne 457S joins the 419S and 435S at the top of JCB’s wheeled loader line-up purpose-built for agricultural applications with up to six-tonne payload and the power to get feedstock loading and clamp filling done at a speedy pace.

For less demanding materials handling applications, the operator can use the default engine setting, which releases up to 224hp from the 6.7-litre Cummins engine, with auto engine shut-down after a period at idle contributing to fuel economy.

But when the chips are down and material needs shifting or there is a steep silage clamp face to climb, switching to ‘Dynamic Power’ unleashes 282hp and 1200Nm of torque for maximum performance.

Unlike industrial loaders modestly adapted for an agriculture role, JCB emphasises the bespoke nature of its machines. So, while the newcomer shares some elements of the established 457 heavy wheeled shovel used for stockpiling and loading out of large bulk commodity stores, the ‘S’ version has a new rear chassis and counterweight, and a new transmission, axles, wheels and tyres to give it the required capabilities for demanding outdoor roles.

A re-profiled counterweight gives added clearance for silage clamp work, while a new rear chassis design has increased fuel storage capacity of 400 litres.

Heavier duty 20-stud axles are installed with limited slip or auto locking differentials to max out traction, while a wider track width permits larger tyres to be fitted while keeping within 3m overall width. Rubberware options for field and yard applications are the 710/75 R32 Trelleborg TM2000 and 800/65 R32 Michelin MegaXbib 2 radial traction tyres.

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The powertrain features a new ZF transmission providing six forward and three reverse powershift ratios, with torque converter lock-up giving direct mechanical drive in all six forward gears as the standard configuration. Operators can use a new menu on the in-cab settings and information display to select torque converter lock-up in any reverse gear and any of the lowest three forward gears to suit different applications.

To make the most of the machine’s capabilities, JCB’s Attachments division has produced a 4.88m (16ft) wide, 7.10cu m capacity folding grass fork and a large volume toe-tip bucket is also available. These are mounted on High Torque lift arms said to provide 'muscular' performance to a lift height of 4.3m – a High Lift option increases clearance to 4.8m.

At the opposite end of the machine, a large cooling fan with programmable automatic reversing to disperse dust and debris is installed so that it can be swung out for cleaning access.

Between jobs, the new 457S can be run at 40kph, or 48kph to keep pace with a silage-making, or muck spreading team and can be coupled to trailed equipment using a 20-tonne capacity Rockinger tow hitch and either twin-line hydraulic or air-ready trailer braking.