So I'll be honest here. Picking the "best of" anything is not my favorite thing. So much of that is subjective based on a number of factors. Yet since 1998, an industrious group of judges and industry folks in Europe have taken on that very task. Their aim: to name the best Tractor of the Year.
Trellborg announced that the program is off and running again to name the 2018 Tractor of the Year, with a kick-off on Lake Garda, Italy. This event, which includes 15 major tractor makers and a panel of 24 journalists from across the European ag industry's top publications, will endeavor to pick some winners and announce them during Agritechnica 2017 in Hannover, Germany.
In fact, this program doesn't pick one tractor but top tractors in a few categories - Tractor of the Year 2018; Best of Specialized 2018; Best Utility 2018; and Best Design 2018.
The 2017 winners, included the Case IH Optimum 300 CVX as Tractor of the Year, and it was announced at the EIMA Show in Bologna, Italy, in 2016. The Best Utility was a New Holland T5.120. Best Specialized was an Antonio Carraro Tony 9800 TR, a popular orchard/vineyard machine. And Best Design went to Deutz-Fahr for the 6215 RCshift. We show the Case IH Optum with this column.
This is a prestigious award, and over the years a range of manufacturers have won. At Agritechnica 2015, the Fendt 1000 series was honored and given its new, and unique, driveline design there really was no surprise there. A Case IH Magnum was honored in 2014 and other honorees have included Claas, John Deere, Massey-Ferguson and McCormick tractors over the years.
For this year, it will be interesting what bubbles to the top for Tractor of the Year. In a slower market, launching new, innovative machines may take a back seat. The judges will have their work cut out for them.
In a release announcing this year's judging, Fabio Zammaretti, chairman of the event, noted that the "Tractor of the Year is the only award in Europe where all the participants are strongly involved in all the phases of the awarding process." The program is growing in popularity as more companies enter, and in Europe the variety of tractor makers is a little more diverse than here in the U.S.
This is a program we'll keep an eye on, and we'll bring you info about the winner during Agritechnica 2017, when the award is announced. A short list of finalists will be made public by the end of June, and those machines will be put through a stringent performance assessment based on criteria such as tractor transmission, electronics, hydraulics, cab comfort, innovative technical features, options and design.
You can learn more about the program at tractoroftheyear.org.