Massey Ferguson: Built to Last

Durability, power and agility breed loyalty for this fifth-generation farmer.

By Boyce Upholt | Photos By George Steinmetz & Boyce Upholt

Cranberry beds can last 50 years or more—which means that they’re generally replaced only once each generation. Randy Bennett, whose family has farmed cranberries in Wisconsin for more than 100 years, sees equipment as a similar, once-per-generation investment. “I saved money, and now I’m buying so the next generation will have good equipment,” Bennett says. That’s what his father did, too.

The modern cranberry bog, built in a near-perfect rectangle, requires navigating sharp corners, and that’s a tough task when you’re pulling heavy gear. So Bennett wants lots of power in his tractors, but not much size. He found exactly what he was looking for in the Massey Ferguson® 5400 and 5600 Series.

Bennett uses his MF5613, with its powerful, yet extremely efficient 130-HP, 4-cylinder engine, for moving the long-armed boom that sprays fertilizer and pesticides on his crop. The delicacy of this work has turned Bennett into a keen admirer of the tractor’s Dyna-4™ transmission. “We have an 83-foot boom out there,” he notes. “You have to be smooth, gentle. And you can just tap that thing and it gets into the new gear. There’s no jolting. That is really important in pulling the boom.”

For land forming, Bennett loves his MF5465, which has great dexterity thanks to a tight turning radius. Its muscular 6-liter, 6-cylinder engine and its 4-wheel drive are essential for navigating the dikes. “A lot of our narrow roads are made of sand, and we’re always near a ditch. There’s really no room for spinning a tire and sliding,” Bennett says. “We wouldn’t make it through some of that sand without 4-wheel drive.”

Bennett works with St. Joseph Equipment in La Crosse, Wisconsin. “Their service is second to none,” he says. It takes an hour and a half to drive to the shop, but if he gets himself in a pinch, he says, “they’ll find their way over here. We work together like that.”

That service breeds loyalty; the Bennetts have been committed to St. Joseph for more than 30 years. In 1982, Randy’s father bought the family’s first Massey Ferguson, a classic Massey Ferguson 294. It still runs beautifully, and pulls its weight around the farm—especially when rototilling. Bennett says that as he invests in new equipment, the old machines his dad bought are being phased out. “But not that one,” he adds quickly. “She’s going nowhere.”