IF YOU TOOK a quick glance at John Deere's new product lineup for 2006, you might conclude that nothing much has changed from last year. But you'd be wrong. From tractors to combines, planters, and hay tools, the difference in Deere's new products isn't so much how they look on the outside, but the subtle and significant changes made on the inside. Unlike recent years, Deere didn't make everything bigger and wider. This year they just made it all smarter.

ROW-CROP TRACTORS

The new 8030 series from John Deere consists of eight tractors that range from 180 to 355 hp. The biggest innovation in these tractors is Deere's new PowerTech Plus 9.0-liter engine. Paired with a 16-speed powershift transmission or optional John Deere infinitely variable transmission (IVT), the machines pack more power in a maneuverable and efficient package. Models are available in 2-wd, mechanical front wheel drive (MFWD), MFWD with independent link suspension, and track configurations.

Deere touts the PowerTech Plus 9.0-liter, 6-cyl. diesel engine as its answer to EPA's Tier 3 off-road diesel emissions requirements, which take effect in January 2006. Not only do the Deere engines meet the EPA emissions requirements for lower nitrous oxide and soot particulate, they can do so while offering better fuel efficiency and greater power than their 8020 model predecessors. Deere claims that, in addition to 43% torque rise capability, the 8030 tractors will have 2 to 5% better fuel economy than the 8020s.

Innovations that allow the engine to meet these standards include four valves per cylinder, exhaust gas recirculation, and a variable geometry turbo (VGT) that provides boost at low as well as high engine speeds. Engine efficiency is enhanced with a new cooling package, including Deere's Vari-Cool fan drive and cooling system. The mechanical-type fan runs only at the necessary speed to meet the cooling requirements.

Deere also beefed up the 8030s with components that are heavier-duty than those in the 8020s. A new hydraulic system has redesigned hydraulic pump circuits, two filters and a 1,500-hr. service interval. The new system increases hydraulic oil flow at lower engine rpm, which adds responsiveness for all hydraulic functions and improves steering.

In the cab, the tractor is similar to the comfortable 8020 models. There are some tweaks and improvements, though, such as noise-reducing attenuators that cancel out particularly annoying sound frequencies. A wider selection of displays, including a large, intuitive touch screen, also is available for controlling and monitoring precision ag functions in Deere's GreenStar system.

Prices for the new 8030 tractors range from $118,454 to $216,265. Adding the IVT option costs an additional $9,500 on all models except the 8530, which includes the IVT as standard equipment. The IVT is not available on the 8030T series track tractors. Circle 210.

60 SERIES STS COMBINES

The biggest new feature of the 60 series STS combines is Deere's new “bullet” rotor. The rotor is designed with a streamlined “bullet” nose profile, which allows high volumes of crop material to smoothly enter the threshing system and be distributed evenly. Rotor power requirements are reduced, and material handling is improved by as much as 20%.

To process more bushels from the field, a new high-torque, variable-speed feederhouse drive enables the 60 series combines to handle large corn heads in higher-yielding crops. Bigger cams with a more aggressive ram angle and a heftier coil spring allow for optimal high torque sensing and deliver 50% more clamping load to the drive belt. Oil capacity in the gearbox has increased 25% and grease capacity by more than 300%. These changes will dramatically reduce belt slippage, gearbox overheating and belt breakage. The added heft and power of the overall system also accommodates the additional power needs of Deere's new corn-head chopping system. The spinning blades chop and size corn stalks during harvest, reducing pest habitat without the need for extra passes with a second implement.

At the rear of the combine, a new optional PowerCast straw chopper tailboard is available to effectively spread material up to 50 ft.

Prices on 60 series combines range from $172,630 to $262,256. Circle 211.

REFUGE PLUS ON CCS PLANTERS

Some of Deere's large seed tank Central Commodity System planters now offer on option called Refuge Plus, designed for Bt corn growers who want to plant refuges more efficiently. A separate tank and extra seed tubes are plumbed so that the farmer can plant the main Bt crop and the non-Bt refuge at the same time. Seed corn growers will also benefit from adding the third seed tank. They can plant both male and female seed in the desired pattern simply by placing the male seed in the Refuge Plus tank and the female seed in the CCS tanks, and routing the seed delivery hoses to the desired row units.

Prices of 30- to 42-ft. 1990 CCS air seeders range from $70,652 to $112,081. Circle 212.

AUTOTRAC UNIVERSAL STEERING KIT

Deere's new AutoTrac universal steering kit makes it possible to retrofit an assisted-steering system to early-model Deere machines.

The base components of the AutoTrac kit will continue to be the three GreenStar common components: StarFire iTC receiver, GreenStar display, and mobile processor. An AutoTrac keycard and universal vehicle kit also will be part of the package for each approved machine.

If you already have the base components, price for the steering kit alone is $3,150. Kits are currently being developed for 7000/7010 series MFWD tractors, 50/55/60 series MFWD tractors and 60/70 series 4-wd tractors. Circle 212.

For more information, see your John Deere dealer or contact John Deere, Dept. FIN, 11145 Thompson Ave., Lenexa, KS 66219, 866/993-3373, or visit www.deere.com or www.freeproductinfo.net/fin.