Challenger MT955E Tractor: The Silage Pile Monster

This tractor not only climbs mountains, it makes them.

By Richard Banks | Photos By Jamie Cole

Packing silage is boot camp for tractors, especially for the articulated monsters employed by D&G Chopping. Used to pack silage mounds at dairies near Tulare, Calif., the company’s Challenger MT955E does what few other machines can in such conditions: It keeps on working day in, day out.

“In a conventional use, this tractor would be going straight for a half-mile at a time,” says Butch Gist, D&G co-owner. “Most of these machines would be used for ripping, or for maybe leveling ground and those types of things, where they’re continuously pulling in one direction. We’re constantly shifting from forward to reverse … turning back and forth to get the product to move on the pile where we need it, so we can make our compaction.”

Challenger MT955E

Challenger MT955E

“This thing does as many turns in one day as one of those tractors does in a month” for a field operation, adds Gist’s business partner, Marvin Davis. “We run 12, 14 hours a day … pushing about 16 tons of silage at a time.”

In addition to being reliable and powerful, the D&G owners say their MT955E is also extremely efficient. “This machine’s capable of running 2,100 rpm for the full pull on it,” says Davis, “but we typically run it around 1,700 rpm.” As a result, he says, it uses about 20 gallons of fuel less than their previous tractor.

Davis and Gist are also happy with the comfort of and visibility from the cab—which is especially critical going forward and backward, and climbing silage piles. They emphasize, however, that amenities, such as its air-suspended and air-conditioned seat are more than luxuries, noting the machine’s driver “sits in here for 12 to 16 hours a day,” says Davis. “The comforts allow him to stay in there. That makes it employee-friendly—that’s what keeps us with good people.”

Running a tractor in conditions this difficult, an attentive dealership is critical, say both Davis and Gist. For AGCO sales, parts and service, they rely on Quinn Company, which operates several locations in central and southern California. “They come in and they talk to us about the products, about our needs, what we need,” Davis says. “From their sales, all the way to their service department and parts counter, they’ve been phenomenal. They’ve been a very good company to work with.”

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