It may be a surprise to some, but John Deere introduced the 4020 tractor 50 years ago. The 4020 was the first John Deere tractor that featured a power shift transmission.

At the recent John Deere media event, the 1963 4020 was parked right next to a new 7R Series tractor that will be available to farmers in 2014. The 7R tractors are equipped with the next generation of power shift technology, the e23 Power Shift Transmission.

“The e23 combines the efficiency of a mechanical transmission with the operational ease of IVT, giving our operators an easy to use transmission with also lots of efficiencies,” said Melissa Reinhart, John Deere marketing representative.

This new transmission has 23 equally spaced forward gears and 11 reverse gears.

“Producers can choose from two modes that are speed sensitive — custom or auto modes,” the John Deere spokesperson said. “And there is a manual mode that is gear sensitive where you change gears just like a traditional power shift transmission.”

The 7R Series includes five new models ranging from 210 to 290 engine horsepower, and the new cooling package on the tractors allows more air flow.

“There is a 15-percent increase in cooling capacity,” said Kory Ross, John Deere marketing representative. “With the new design and larger surface area, this allows us to slow down the fan speed on the radiator, which requires less horsepower.”

According to Luke Gakstatter, vice president of sales and marketing for John Deere’s agriculture and turf division in the U.S. and Canada, the company is focused on adding value to producers’ operations with iron, technology and data to provide distinctive value to them.

The three value drivers critically important to John Deere are performance, uptime and cost of production.

“Our new products truly embody those three value drivers,” the vice president stressed. “The new 7R and 8R series tractors with their final tier 4 engines have more power, more comfort to the operator, more integrated technology and they are more efficient.”

The John Deere 4 Series sprayers have been redesigned from the ground up and the solution system from the tank to the tip.

“This is the first major redesign of sprayers in 15 years,” said Brea Harms, product line manager for John Deere application equipment. “The two new sprayers — R4030 and R4038 are designed for growers and commercial applicators who are seeking a highly productive machine capable of delivering increased yields.”

The R4030 features an 800-gallon tank, and the R4038 is equipped with a 1,000-gallon tank. In addition to the solution tank, the John Deere sprayers have two 50-gallon tanks and one 35-gallon tank.

“The two larger tanks are tied together with one pump, and the smaller tank also has a pump so the operator has the opportunity to put two types of chemicals directly in the back of the sprayer,” the John Deere manager explained. “The operator can have raw chemical injected directly into the center of the boom and mix with what comes out of the solution tank across the spray boom.”

It is really neat to see the new pieces of John Deere equipment up close. It is even better that the company during these media events provides the opportunity for all the media representatives to take the tractors for a short test drive and to sit in the cab of a self-propelled sprayer and experience the ease and speed of extending and closing the 120-foot booms.

I think farmers will be excited about the improvements and new features of the John Deere equipment.