A new Valtra G135 Active is proving an ideal main tractor for a family-owned Shropshire mixed farm

A new Valtra G135 Active is proving an ideal main tractor for a family-owned Shropshire mixed farm.

The Gibbs family farms at Bettonfields Farm near Shrewsbury. Just over half of the 110ha farm produces arable crops including wheat, barley and fodder beet, and the remainder is grass grazing for 90 prize-winning pedigree Texel breeding ewes, and a high welfare, free range 32,000-hen egg production enterprise (Heart of Shropshire Eggs Ltd), which was established last year.

The operation is run by Nigel Gibbs and his son Henry who is the fourth generation of the family to farm the land. Nigel looks after the arable crops and sheep, assisted by Henry who also runs the poultry unit. Eggs are supplied to major supermarkets through a wholesaler and sold from the farm gate through a dispensing terminal. One additional full-time staff member is employed on the poultry unit and an extra part-time worker was taken on recently to provide additional cover.

Most arable field operations are carried out in-house, but contractors provide services including manure applications, drilling and combine harvesting. Two tractors are owned including a Valtra N121 HiTech with an MX front loader, and a new fifth generation Valtra G135 Active supplied by local main dealer Edwards & Farmer Ltd.

Obvious choice

The G135 replaced a Valtra 6550 purchased new in 2004, which had worked more than 6,500 hours but remained reliable. “We have an excellent relationship with the Edwards and Farmer team, and every tractor we have had new was supplied by the Farmer family. Another Valtra was the obvious choice, but we also wanted to check how other brands compared so we had several demonstrations.”

Replacing the 6550, the new tractor’s role would include ploughing, heavy cultivating, seedbed preparation, drilling, grass topping, hay turning, farm transport, fertiliser applications and spraying. “All the tractors had good and bad points but overall the Valtra was our favourite,” continued Nigel. "We negotiated a deal with Rupert Farmer, and our G135 Active was delivered in late January.”

High specification

The G135 Active has up to 145hp available with boost, and is the most powerful of the four G-series models. The transmission is a six-speed, four-range powershift with manual and automatic modes. Active specification includes Valtra’s ARM armrest-mounted controls and a load-sensing hydraulic pump with manual spools. It also comes auto-steer ready from the factory.

Henry said the new Valtra quickly demonstrated its versatility. “We wanted a tractor which could increase work rates and improve our efficiency, but it also had to be suitable for traditional livestock tasks, and the G135 is perfect. It gives us the advantages of a small tractor but with the power and lift capacity for larger implements, and we are already considering upgrading from a four-furrow to a five-furrow plough as it will easily lift and pull it.”

Improved comfort and efficiency

The cab is comfortable, spacious and very quiet, according to the two main operators. The tractor has a 40kph transmission and is equipped with front axle and cab suspension, and Nigel said he is constantly amazed by the ride quality, especially for a tractor with such compact dimensions.

The user-friendly cab layout includes the Valtra SmartTouch  armrest which ensures all the main operating controls are within easy reach without it feeling cluttered. Henry said that having the controls in one area makes operation easier and more efficient. Large glass windows with narrow pillars provide superb visibility all around, and he said that having an excellent view while negotiating headland turns improves work rates and accuracy.

The instruments and controls are well designed, although minor criticisms include the accelerator pedal which is very sensitive – making it difficult to drive smoothly over bumpy ground, and the low fuel warning where a lower segment of the fuel gauge flashes but is easily missed.

Improved accuracy

The new tractor has Valtra Guide autosteer with field mapping and guidance through an optional SmartTouch Extend touchscreen. “We haven’t had GPS guidance before,” commented Henry. “I expected it to be complicated but one of the dealer’s engineers talked me through the set-up process by phone while I was cultivating, and within a short while it was helping me achieve perfectly matched bouts with no overlap or misses. It made the job less tiring and gave me more opportunity to watch the implement and optimise its performance while the tractor steered itself.

“We believe it will improve accuracy of our fertiliser and spray applications, especially on grassland where there are no tramlines to follow. It wasn’t something we were looking for when we chose the tractor but, having experienced the benefits, we are pleased we decided to have it.”

Useful features

The new tractor has a front linkage, but no PTO. “We might regret not having a front PTO in the future, but the main benefit of the front linkage is the ease with which we can attach and remove front ballast,” stressed Henry. “In the past it was hard work and time consuming so weights were often left on even when they weren’t required. With the convenience of the front linkage it is far more likely that we will add weight only when it is needed in future, and keep the tractor as light as possible at other times to protect the land.”

Another new feature is the push-out trailer hitch. “We haven’t had one previously, but it makes such a difference being able to see the hook when hitching up to trailers,” commented Henry. “There is also an LED light for the hitch which is a great feature in a shed or at night.”


Henry said that daily checks are easily carried out and he particularly likes the contamination-free transmission oil filling feature. The tractor is expected to work 300–400 hours per year, so one annual dealer service will be needed. Valtra Connect telematics are fitted, and Rupert Farmer said the system allows his service team to check for fault codes and diagnose technical issues remotely which saves downtime.

Dealer view

“We are really pleased to have the G-series to offer our customers,” added Rupert. “It fills the gap between the entry A-series and the more powerful N-series models and its versatility will suit many farms in our trading area. I was confident that the G135 Active would be ideal for the Gibbs family, and it feels good to have supplied our first G-series tractor to replace a Valtra I sold new to the same family 17 years before.”

Compact but capable

“We like the new Valtra. It’s quite a step up from our previous Valtras in comfort and performance, but we are constantly impressed by its ability to carry out the role of a smaller tractor in the yard,” concluded Nigel. “Of the tractors we considered it certainly wasn’t the cheapest, but we like the G-series and the extended finance and warranty packages will help us budget for the cost of ownership over the next four years. We know we can rely on the back-up from Edwards and Farmer too. New tractors are a big investment so choosing the right machine is important, and when our current N-series is due for updating then a second G-series tractor and loader already seems the most likely replacement.”