Articulated 4-wd tractors, introduced in the mid-1960s, hit the 300-hp mark in the mid-1970s. The market for articulated 4-wd tractors in the 300-plus-hp segment is relatively stable year over year, according to Versatile, the maker of the first mass-produced 4-wd. Adam Reid, media relations for the company, says its 4-wd market is split between the 300- to 400-hp segment and the 400- to 535-hp market.
“The largest models [425 hp and larger] are most popular in the northern Great Plains, including North Dakota, South Dakota, parts of Minnesota and western Canada, for pulling disks, cultivators and large air drills or air seeders,” Reid says. “However, these larger units are growing in popularity in the Corn Belt as more power is required for some implements, depending on crop rotation, growing patterns and soil type. The new Dominator from Krause, for example, requires a lot of tractor weight and pulling power.”
Reid says the 300- to 400-hp units are used on farms with 750 to 2,000 acres and are popular in Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas and parts of the Corn Belt. Although these tractors are primarily used to pull tillage implements, the trend is moving toward grain carts. “These 300- to 400-hp 4-wd tractors are being ordered with powershift and PTOs specifically to run new, large grain carts,” he says. “The advantage of an articulated 4-wd for grain carts is that it has the weight and braking power to manage large carts in the 1,300-bu.-and-up category.”
Alternative uses for articulated 4-wds include silage packing, running big slurry (manure) wagons, and pulling scrapers. Scrapers (earthmovers) are used for drainage on farms and for road construction; in the southern U.S., they are used for catfish ponds.
Fixed-frame, front-wheel-assist row-crop tractors are growing in size, moving into the 350-plus-hp range, and the market is growing as well, Reid adds. “These tractors offer power and maneuverability and can be used in a wide range of applications.”