Challenger 1000 Series: A Ground-Breaking, Game-Changing Tractor

With the power of an articulated-frame tractor and the efficiency of a fixed-frame machine, the Challenger 1000 Series is a rethinking of what a tractor can do.

By Boyce Upholt | Photos By Rory Doyle

David Wildy remembers marveling at the automatic-shift or powershift tractors that debuted in the late 1960s, thinking that would be one of the last great innovations. But David, a row-crop farmer in northeastern Arkansas, calls the advances that have debuted since “mind-boggling. [It’s] changed more rapidly than anything I would have ever imagined,” he says.

Now, as a reward for being named the 2016 Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year, David gets to enjoy another major breakthrough: use of a Challenger® 1038 tractor—one of four models in the Challenger 1000 Series, the largest fixed-frame tractors ever produced.

David’s home territory, the alluvial lands just west of the Mississippi River, is known for highly productive farmland, and he has long used AGCO® products to meet his particular needs on his family’s 12,000-acre farm. With variable soil types on the same fields, David was a relatively early adopter of precision-agriculture methodology.

To ensure the proper application of fertilizer on each patch of soil, David uses a RoGator® 1100B self-propelled applicator. And now, as Challenger dealers begin to move into the region, he’s been impressed with the brand’s commitment to service and reliability.

“It’s supposed to be the best of the best,” David says of the Challenger 1038 when it first arrived on the farm this fall. The four models in the 1000 Series range from 396 to 517 HP; and by combining the power of an articulated-frame tractor with the efficiency of a fixed-frame machine, the series is not just an update—it’s a rethinking of what a tractor can do. Rather than needing one tractor for grueling ground-engaged jobs and another for more intricate row-crop operations, a farmer can invest in just one efficient, high-performing machine.

During harvest season, Wildy had only begun to experiment with the new tractor, but was already impressed. On the other hand, Paul Harris, Wildy’s son-in-law, has spent considerable time in the cab and has liked what he’s seen, saying, “It’s a hoss.

“It’s built really well,” he continues. “When it’s pulling and you’re really using all of its power, the RPMs are lower than [the other tractors] we’ve got now. It’s using less power and less energy to pull the same stuff.” Paul says he’s enjoyed the cab comfort, too, as well as the color-coordinated controls that have made it easy to learn a new system.

What David has seen so far makes him think the new technology will be a hit. “At the end of the day,” he says, “if the operator is less fatigued, and the tractor has burned less fuel, that’s what we’re looking for.”