Archive for March, 2013
The AGCO Africa Summit in Berlin in January came and went by very quickly but not so fast as to deny me of memorable moments. First of all I would like to thank AGCO for granting me this great opportunity as their Africa Ambassador 2013. It was overwhelming to be chosen via the video contest from more than 30 applicants and it was a great experience to host such a top-class international conference.
As was to be expected, the high profile representatives from industry and government from within and outside Africa left indelible impressions on me with their varying perspectives about agriculture. Agriculture plays a major role in Africa’s future and the world’s food security. It was not a surprise that the final keynote speech by Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, former President of Nigeria, was potent enough to make any businessman, who may have never considered becoming a farmer, to entertain thoughts of serious involvement in ‘agri-business’.
Meeting and interacting with experts of various nationalities and cultures who all have Africa in common one way or another was indeed an experience of high value. It was a particular delight and also a deep honor to announce the speeches of Former Presidents John Agyekum Kufuour (Ghana) and Horst Koehler (Germany).
I cherish the memories of each distinguished speaker that I had the honor of presenting but there is certainly one that stands out much more than any of the others in my mind. Laetitia Mukungu started her entrepreneurial journey at a very young age and indeed at the time of the conference she was 16 or 17 years old. Her delivery of the story of how she started her foray into rabbit farming in Kenya was as remarkable as the content of the story itself. It is no wonder that she is a 2012 Anzisha Fellow, one of several laurels that I expect this young dynamic woman to win. (She has also most recently won the Diana Prize, March 2012.)
Laetitia spoke very clearly about how and why she started rabbit farming, an initiative that would grow into an excellent example of social entrepreneurship with her Women Rabbit’s Association and My Idea Rabbit Center. Her presentation about why she chose rabbits over other livestock was so compelling that I have begun to ponder why I should not start my very own rabbit farm in Nigeria.
The AGCO Africa Summit, Agriculture in Africa – From Vision to Action, served as a call to action for all involved; policy makers, farmers, financiers and entrepreneurs. Participants got insight into the peculiarities of the African agribusiness landscape with the incredible opportunities available through sustainable agriculture.
I am certainly pleased to have been involved and I am grateful to AGCO’s leadership and very talented international team for the opportunity. It was a great honor to meet and interact closely with Martin Richenhagen , Nuradin Osman and several other inspiring leaders of this leading global agricultural equipment manufacturer.
This report would be incomplete without mentioning the delight of experiencing Germany for the first time: the food, the people and the architecture that had me take pictures and video clips enough for a mini documentary. Visiting Berlin in the dead of winter was indeed as cold as expected but the allure of the city could not be overcome by the snow and chill. The sophistication of the city and its rich history is hard to go unnoticed while looking through the windows of your taxi or while going on foot down any Strasse.
I look forward to another trip to Berlin, but more importantly I envision the many great and innovative actions that AGCO, its partners, customers, suppliers and you and I will take on in the coming years for agriculture in Africa. Thank you AGCO for your commitment in Africa and thanks to all the participants for moving last year‘s conversation forward – I am glad to be a part of this and I am happy to be your AGCO Africa Ambassador in 2013.
Massey Ferguson is one of the main sponsors of an expedition to reach the South Pole in 2014, using modern day tractors. This will emulate the achievement of Sir Edmund Hillary, who completed the first journey and reached the South Pole using three Ferguson tractors in 1958. It is planned that three MF 5600 tractors will reach the South Pole 56 years after Sir Edmund Hillary’s achievement. This will also be the 56th Anniversary year of the birth of the Massey Ferguson brand name.
Speaking at Massey Ferguson’s SIMA Show press conference in Paris, Richard Markwell, Vice President and Managing Director, Massey Ferguson EAME, introduced the lead driver, Manon Ossevoort, and explained her longstanding mission to take a tractor to the South Pole.
Renowned international experts have already been engaged to assist with the expedition, said Mr Markwell who confirmed initial planning and trials for the event are now well underway. Full details will be made available over the coming months as the plans turned into reality.
The hugely popular Little Grey Fergie Norwegian TV show is set to expand across Europe with filming starting in England this summer. With the full support of Massey Ferguson, the producers are currently looking closely at farm locations in the Cotswolds, one of the country’s most picturesque regions.
“Many farmers will remember a ‘Fergie’ with fond affection,” says Campbell Scott, Brand Development Manager. “The Little Grey Fergie is one of the most important foundations on which Massey Ferguson has built its current success and it’s a great privilege to be involved in such a charming and fun television programme.
“They are great stories. Fergie’s always getting into scrapes and adventures with ‘Gramps’ as well as having to avoid the clutches of the ‘evil’ scrap men – Hubert and Hieronemus – who want to steal him. Like all good childrens’ stories there’s moral to the tales and good, in the form of Fergie who is the star, always wins. Although aimed at 4-6 year olds, the programmes are likely to also appeal to even the grown up children!”
Originally created from story books by Morten Myklebust, Little Grey Fergie is one of the most popular TV franchises in Norway. Along with two hit TV series and two full length feature films, the stage show has played to nearly half million people at theatres and farms across the country. There are also plans to even develop a Little Grey Fergie theme park.
The star of the show, Little Grey Fergie, is an actual Ferguson T20 – one of more than half a million of the tractors produced between 1946 and 1956 at Banner Lane, Coventry in the UK as well as in Detroit in the USA.
The T20 was the tractor that delivered affordable and reliable mechanisation to the world, introducing ‘power farming’ to a new generation of farmers. It was also the first large volume tractor to be equipped with the ground-breaking three-point linkage and ‘Ferguson System’ hydraulics.
Little Grey Fergie is not alone, but one of many thousands still in regular use on farms and smallholdings across the globe. Indeed, the ultra reliable and rugged T20 continues to play a key role in introducing ‘power farming’ to a new generation of emerging and subsistence farmers in developing countries.
Massey Ferguson’s harvesting heritage, which stretches back centuries, has introduced many world first agricultural engineering innovations including, a combined stripper/thresher, the self-propelled combine harvester, PowerFlow header, in-cab electronic interactive display as well as GPS yield mapping, which began the precision farming revolution.
The roots to today’s harvesting expertise reach back to the mid-19th century with the founding of the Canadian farm equipment firms – the Massey Manufacturing Company of Toronto and A. Harris, Son & Company of Brantford. When they merged in 1891, they were not only the two most successful farm machinery companies in Canada, but also well-established on the international trading scene, exporting their wide range of harvesting equipment worldwide.
Among the products on offer were binders, reapers, reaper-threshers, rakes and mowers. At the 1889 Paris Universal Exposition Massey’s Toronto Light Binder was awarded the distinction of the ‘world’s greatest harvesting machine’.
The success in this early period resulted from the company staying right at the forefront of farm technology and drawing into the family other firms that showed a flair for innovation. Among these was H V McKay Limited, Australia’s biggest manufacturer of farm machinery in whom Massey-Harris acquired an interest in 1930. Back in the 1880s, McKay had added a separating mechanism to the existing stripper harvester (a machine that stripped the heads of grain and threshed them with a beater), patented the machine and, thereby, effectively created a ‘combine harvester.’
Under the supervision of Massey-Harris engineer, the Australian-born Tom Carroll, came the development of the world’s first commercially-viable self-propelled combine harvester, the Massey-Harris No 20. Dispensing with the need for draft animals or tractors, this all-in-one operation represented a major breakthrough in harvesting techniques.
Its knife extended the full width of the combine’s front-end and the engine was ingeniously made to drive the internal mechanism and propel the vehicle – either together or separately. The machine (later in the form of a lighter, more compact model, the MH No 21) proved itself during the Second World War when Massey-Harris set up its Harvest Brigade of 500 combines which gathered thousands of hectares of grain as the ripening season moved northwards across America.
The development of the self-propelled combine continued throughout the 1940s and 1950s. One of the first models to appear under the new Massey Ferguson name was the MF 35 in North America – a small, low-priced machine for small- to medium-sized farms. In the mid-1960s, following the introduction of new MF 300, 400 and 500 models, Massey Ferguson claimed 18% of the worldwide market for combines.
One of the major developments in combines was the addition of an enclosed cab to protect the driver from the elements and, in particular, the dust thrown up by the harvesting process.
The first MF combine to boast a factory-fitted cab was a North American-built MF 750/MF 760 in the early 1970s. Integral cabs appeared on MF European-built models – the MF 500 and MF 600 – in the early 1980s.
In 1976, MF engineers headed by Jim McNaught developed the pioneering PowerFlow table – an innovation that is still making a difference on MF combines today. With PowerFlow, the crop is powered headfirst to the table elevator by means of rubber belts. This ensures an even feed into the machine and reduces table losses and machine blockages.
This increases output of up to 73% ha/hr in oilseed rape, for example. The design was originally presented at a meeting of the Royal Society of Engineers and received the Silver Medal at the UK’s Royal Show.
Combines continued to get bigger and bigger. In 1972, the MF 760 combine was one of the largest combines of its day and was used in Europe with 24ft (7.3m) tables. In the late 1970s, an MF 760 set the standard for harvesting 100 acres (41.6ha) in a day’s work. The MF 760 was superseded in the early 1980s by the MF 860 where engine horsepower had risen to a massive (for the time) 184hp driven by a Perkins V8 engine. In 1984, the Cascade Separator (which caught the grain that would otherwise have fallen to the ground and returned it to the machine via an elevator) was introduced on the MF 850 and MF 860. This could increase standard capacity by 10%.
In 1986, two rotary models – the MF 8560 and MF 8590 – were launched which employed a large rotor rather than a cylinder and straw walkers. At 14ft (4.2m), the latter had the longest rotor on any rotary model to this day. With the rotary launch, MF became the only company in the world at that time to offer both rotary and conventional combine technologies in the high capacity sector.
Electronics took combine development to a higher plane in the early 1990s and set the scene for precision farming techniques. Again, Massey Ferguson was in the vanguard. Datavision (initially known as Daniavision) was the first in-cab interactive information display. Then in 1991, Massey Ferguson introduced the first yield-mapping system on its combines. Using GPS satellite navigation, Datavision and the highly-accurate Yield Meter farmers were able, for the first time, to track the amount of crop produced in each area of their field.
Other developments have included Automatic Table Height Control which allows the combine table to hug ground contours and maintain a constant cutting height, and Constant Flow which keeps the combine fully-loaded in different crop densities by sensing the load on the cylinder and electronically varying the combine’s forward speed.
Massey Ferguson introduces three new rotary rakes, designed to help hay producers optimize hay quality and create windrows that increase baling efficiency and capacity.
These dual-rotor models also feature “jet effect” rotor lifting. When the rotor is lowered from headland to working position, the “jet effect” lets the rear of the rotor touch down first (like an airplane landing), which prevents the tines from scalping the soil surface and contaminating the windrow. This also helps extend the tine life.
Standard on each dual-rotor rake with transport chassis is the exclusive ROTORFLEX™ suspension system, which allows rotors to gently “float” from front to back and side to side, so the baskets work together to gather the crop into a more uniform and manageable windrow in uneven, rough terrain.
“While the rakes are gentle on hay, they’re built sturdy to deliver years of reliable service, and the extra-tough tines can handle many hours in the field,” explains Morrell.
Finally, the drive system features helical-cut gears to provide more torque than straight-cut gears, as well as deliver longer driveline and rotor life. To prevent damage and operator error, the RK Series is equipped with sealed-grease gearboxes for smooth movement, main-drive gearboxes that automatically swivel when the machine is folding, a simple hydraulic system and overrunning clutches.