Road Ready, Farm Strong

Whether between the rows or between the ditches, Fendt tractors get a workout in this rural municipality.

By Jamie Cole | Photos By Jordan Popowich

Not every farm tractor is… well, a farm tractor.

Sometimes a piece of equipment so identified with working between the rows is called upon to work between the ditches. Oh, and work in the ditches, too.

“We’ve got 360 miles of road, and part of those miles is dirt road,” says Andy Brandt, the public works director in the rural municipality (RM) of Taché, just to the southeast of Winnipeg in Manitoba, Canada. “And when it comes to ditches, you can multiply that number by two,” he says, adding that some of those drains are 9 feet deep.

There’s a lot to tend to in those hundreds of miles, and a lot that can challenge equipment. Road maintenance and mowing in the warmer months. Snow moving in the winter. Important work. “We have quite a bit of heavy equipment,” says Brandt: “Graders, excavators, track loaders… right down to farm tractors.”

For RM Taché, those farm tractors are a Fendt 716, currently in service, and a Fendt 718 that is on order.

He mentions the Fendt tractor particularly is under “heavy use,” busy with the kinds of daily chores that might be expected of a Fendt on a farm. In fact, the work may be even more demanding, “to the extreme where they work up to 16 hours (a day), in 30-below-Celsius weather,” he says.

Keep in mind, too, that means an operator is pulling some extreme hours in extreme conditions, too, and down time is not an option. Says RM Taché’s Lead Hand, Ken Manaigre: “The amount of square miles we cover is very demanding on the equipment we have, and downtime for us is service not being rendered to our taxpayers,” he says.

“A rural municipality is similar to a county in the United States,” says Brandt. “We are a government jurisdiction; we collect taxes and provide services for our residents.” Besides managing the public works team and projects in the RM, Brandt also makes recommendations to the RM Council (again, like a county commission or city council in the States) on how best to spend public funds on equipment.

“I’m not going to them asking for heated leather seats or anything like that,” laughs Brandt, “but I am asking them for the best. And my council is very supportive of that.”

Having the best equipment on hand means working through demanding jobs in the time and fashion that taxpayers and decision-makers expect, says Brandt. A good snow can mean 4 to 5 feet covering roadways, clogging ditches, and drifting to double that height. Besides clearing roads, which residents expect within a day’s time, snow must also be cleared from ditches to avoid drainage problems that can lead to flooding.

Meanwhile, Manaigre is no stranger to covering miles, or acres, in the cab of a tractor. “I was born and raised on a farm here in Taché… a fairly large farm, large equipment, large tractors,” he says. Brandt says Manaigre helps the RM keep up with the ever-evolving equipment landscape, something that can be a significant challenge for government entities, especially when it comes time to spend the taxpayers’ money.

About two-thirds of the land in RM Taché is in farms, including that of Manaigre’s family. Brandt says he has “watched some (other) local farmers utilize Fendt tractors in our municipality over the years. We’ve always dreamt about using a Fendt.” There is a growing following of farmers in the area that rely on Fendt as their workhorses.

Farmers keep their eyes open, says Brandt, and like Manaigre and his family, they keep up with the trends. “I hear it all the time from farmers,” says Brandt. “They’re always demoing other brands, but they keep coming back to the Fendt line.”

READ MORE to see how Fendt works for farms and public works in RM Taché >>