Time Is Money

As Massey Ferguson® rolls out its newest tractor series, one Georgia farmer takes time from his busy schedule to try out a demo.

By Tanner Latham | Photos By Brian Francis

Lee Powers (left) with his Massey Ferguson dealer, Roger Harrod.

Lee Powers (left) with his Massey Ferguson dealer, Roger Harrod.

When Lee Powers rises in the morning, one of his first thoughts is about his cattle. Most days he’s out of the house around 5:30 a.m. to feed and check on at least one of his two herds that he raises on two separate tracks.

But Lee can’t linger. There’s no time, because he also has a “real” job. He owns a construction business with the majority of the work—mostly commercial buildings, such as doctors’ offices—located in metro Atlanta, approximately 50 miles east of his home and farmland.

So, mornings are often a juggle. For instance, on a typical summer day, after a quick check of his animals, he’s at a job site at sunup, then back home for the cattle and off to his fields to start cutting and baling hay.

“Farming is my first love,” says Lee. “If I could make it happen, I’d close my construction business down right now and do farming full time.”

As it is with many producers with off-farm jobs, that’s not an option for Lee.

An Offer He Couldn’t Refuse

For Lee, time is obviously at a premium. Still, he found a little when Roger Harrod, his Massey Ferguson dealer at Georgia Deer Farm & Agri-Center in the small community of Roopville, approached him with a proposition.

The new 4600 at work.

The new 4609 at work.

Roger had a demo model of a new MF4609 tractor. It’s one of three models in the Massey Ferguson 4600 Series that has received considerable press and been eagerly awaited by many farmers for its reported versatility and leading-edge technologies, including a 3.3-liter, 3-cylinder engine that’s said to be extremely efficient and powerful. The plan is for about 1,000 of the new tractors to be delivered to dealers throughout North America by the end of the year.

Roger wanted Lee to try out the demo because he knew he was good for honest feedback.

“It’s a nice, all-around-size tractor for somebody like Lee,” says Roger. “It’s for guys who aren’t full-time farmers, but they want to keep their place up. I’d say it’s a good hay tractor—perfect for cutting and bush hogging.”

Lee was happy to take it on. He’s already a Massey Ferguson customer—the owner of two tractors, an MF573 and MF5455. And he’s completely transparent about his love affair with the brand.

“The 5455 is the best tractor I’ve ever had in the hay field. Period,” says Lee. “I’ve been on all kinds of tractors, and it has spoiled me.” He says he’s enjoyed the 5455 so much because everything is right at his fingertips, there’s plenty of power, and the visibility is wonderful. He laughs and adds, “It’s a man’s man kind of tractor.”

The 573, too, has been an integral part of his fleet, and it’s still working just fine. Lee, however, projects he’ll be cutting a lot more hay this year, and he needs something that is not only comparable in size to the 573, but is also an upgrade.

Enter the 4600.

Cat’s Meow

With his bushy red beard and an affinity for plaid shirts, Lee gives off a lumberjack vibe. And that brawn doesn’t go unchecked. His father, a retired Southern Baptist preacher named Frank, likes to playfully sock Lee on the shoulder and proudly declare, “He’s like a rock.”

Lee with wife, Sandy, and daughters, Emily and Kendall.

Lee with wife, Sandy, and daughters, Emily and Kendall.

Father and son are in sync. “He and I have always enjoyed being together and doing things together,” says Lee.

Since Lee first bought them, Frank has helped with his son’s farms, a 100-acre spread in Carrollton, Ga., where they raise 50 Black Angus cattle, and a 40-acre tract with about 22 head of Herefords in Hogansville. With other side hay jobs they have acquired—including managing a 205-acre tract of land belonging to the city of Hogansville—Lee estimates they cut and bale around 700 acres of hay twice and sometimes three times per year.

That translates to lots and lots of hay, and a limited amount of time and resources to tend to it—factors they kept in mind during their time with the MF4609. As it is with many farmers, fuel usage was near the top of their list of concerns. To that end,  Lee and Frank were happy with the 3-cylinder AGCO Power engine. “It seems to be fuel-efficient,” says Frank. “I was able to bush hog all day on a full tank.”

As important as efficiency is, they also were looking for something to provide the power they needed. In the little time Lee and Frank had with it, the tractor came through. “I have been very, very pleased with the power it has,” says Lee. “As far as pulling, it is perfect for running a 15-foot bush hog. We were even cutting some wet stuff, and it was pulling through there just fine.”

The new power shuttle transmission was also a plus. “The transmission is smooth,” says Lee. “It’s like the cat’s meow. You can shift on the go, and the clutch is easy.”

A Perfect Fit

Father and son are honest with each other and express their disagreements. For example, Frank is pleased with the donkeys he placed on his son’s farm in Carrollton to ward off coyotes and other predators. Lee, on the other hand, is not so keen on them. Between the construction business and his farm work, Lee has to constantly consider ways to be more resourceful and efficient. He just tallies the numbers.

“If it’s not a cow, I don’t like it being on the place,” he says. “I guess I’m just an old-timer. If it’s not making me money, I don’t want to feed it.”

Respectful disputes aside, they’ve both become fans of the new 4600 Series and agree that it is a perfect fit for the work they do.

“For our operation, that’s probably all we need,” says Frank.

In fact, Lee is already envisioning how a 4609 might play a significant role on his farms, especially when it comes to raking, cutting and baling hay.

“There’s a 99.9% chance I’m going to buy that tractor,” he says.

3 Key Features: The 4600 Series

Power Shuttle Transmission: Twelve forward and 12 reverse speeds come standard. Six synchronized gears and two ranges provide a wide variety of speeds for work and transportation. Shuttle lever is within easy reach of the operator’s left hand. No foot clutch is required when shuttling the tractor.

AGCO Power 3.3-Liter, 3-Cylinder Engine: This newly designed engine is EPA-compliant, meeting the Tier 4i emissions requirements and providing 80 to 99 hp (63 to 80 PTO-hp), respectively, at 2,200 rpm. Four valves per cylinder improve airflow and enhance the mix of fuel and air. Electronic engine management allows precise control of all functions.

Spacious Cab Or Open Station: The flat foot deck has a rubber cover for comfortable foot placement and lots of room. The suspended seat is fully adjustable and features arm rests. The cab offers two doors.