As recently as a decade ago, most farmers didn’t give much thought to the notion that their tractor could have GPS-guided automated steering. Most sure didn’t think they needed it. Now, producers rave that automated steering has taken a lot of stress out of farming’s long hours, while increasing efficiencies.
The experts at AGCO are certain the same kind of appreciation will come as a result of AgCommand™, the company’s new telemetry system. AgCommand can log and transmit numerous bits of information about an operation’s machinery to a web site easily accessible to the farmer or others involved in the operation. AgCommand is only a part of AGCO’s larger Fuse™ initiative that encompasses all aspects of AGCO’s technology offerings. It will enable farmers to optimize their farms through current and future AGCO products and services. To learn more about Fuse, click here.
The data becomes a big tool for the farmer and can translate into improved equipment and overall operational efficiencies. Here are just a few examples:
A farm manager in the office (or the machine operator) might receive a message via the AgCommand web site that one of their tractors is experiencing wheel slippage. If there is slippage, maybe conditions in the field aren’t right yet for cultivation. The producer may have to check for compaction in areas where slippage occurs.
Monitors on the combine might tell the operator or manager—in real time—that they are experiencing grain loss. The combine setup can be adjusted before any more grain is lost.
A farm’s machinery dealer can be tied into the AgCommand monitoring system. They can see when service intervals are going to hit—when more filters and fluids are going to be needed and have them on hand. If the farmer does his own servicing, the dealer can automatically ship supplies directly to the farmer.
The newest assisted-steering technology from AGCO, Auto-Guide 3000, offers integration across a range of agricultural equipment brands. Auto-Guide 3000 is part of AGCO’s larger Fuse™ initiative that encompasses all aspects of AGCO’s technology offerings. It will enable farmers to optimize their farms through current and future AGCO products and services. To learn more about Fuse, click here.
The new system is also compatible with all GLONASS satellites, in addition to WAAS, OmniSTAR XP, G2 and HP subscription, and RTK GNSS signals. In fact, its high quality and reliability were driven by extensive testing at nine different AGCO manufacturing sites around the globe.
“Auto-Guide 3000 has been the most extensively tested guidance product that has come from AGCO to date,” says Matt Rushing, vice president, product management, AGCO Advanced Technology Solutions (ATS) and Electronics Functional Group (EFG). “It’s a solution that both customers and dealers can place a high level of confidence in.”
Ease of use is key, notes Rushing. “AGCO has taken steps to design its next generation of guidance solutions to be simple to operate.” With Auto-Guide 3000, he adds, “it’s also fully scalable from sub-meter to centimeter accuracy.”
It’s getting to the point that assisted steering is a standard requirement for most large farmers in North America. Steering and guidance are the most basic precision-ag functions and are the foundation for almost every operation in the growing cycle.
One of the greatest benefits of the Auto-Guide 3000 is that it can be integrated right into the same C1000 tractor monitor that the operator uses to control his tractor, White planter or Hesston® by Massey Ferguson baler. The system also features straight-line, pivot and contour modes, and works with the C2100 monitor in Massey Ferguson combines.
This eliminates the need for an extra monitor in the cab and helps the operator focus on the field, since all the information he or she needs is in one location. However, notes Rushing, for more advanced characteristics and functionality, an optional monitor is available that offers a larger screen and more dedicated functions.
Auto-Guide 3000 is currently available as a factory-installed option on select Massey Ferguson and other AGCO-made tractors and combines, and on Hesston by Massey Ferguson self-propelled windrowers. It’s also offered as an aftermarket add-on.
The beads of perspiration forming on Monte Innes’ forehead are swelling but not yet heavy enough to succumb to gravity. It is early August, a sunny 80 degrees Fahrenheit, and he’s leaning against a large square bale amid a 480-acre strip of land along the Ohio Creek in south-central Colorado.
“This is a real harsh area to work in,” says Monte, 43, who cuts and bales hay on nearly 6,000 acres tucked piecemeal into high, arid mountain valleys up to an hour-and-a-half apart. “The cold can settle into this valley here in the winter and it’ll be 35 below for days.
“Every valley has its own microclimate,” he continues, “and in the spring and summer, rainfall can vary tremendously from one hay field to the next all within a few miles of each other. You just kind of roll with the punches.”
On this particular day, however, the Ohio Creek Valley resembles paradise. Mountains rise up around us on three sides. Most grand are the Anthracites directly to the north.
Acres worth of grass have already been cut and laid down by Monte. In an adjacent field, his wife Julie is running the baler, dropping large rectangular blocks in her wake. Across the valley lush grasses—timothy, red top, brome and clover—fed by recent, unusually heavy rains, beg to be harvested.
Monte and Julie picked up an additional 900 acres worth of hay to farm this year, in large part because of their new Hesston® by Massey Ferguson WR9770 windrower. Their new customer had seen the clean, close cut the Inneses had achieved on a nearby property and realized his existing custom balers were leaving money in the fields.
“This is the third RazorBar disc header we’ve had, and we wouldn’t own anything else,” Monte says. “We get all the hay. It is a clean cut an inch from the ground.”
He also appreciates the speed with which the machine can travel. “It is awesome traveling down the road at 20 mph from one field to another,” he continues, noting how important that speed is when you’re working numerous scattered fields.
The windrower is quick in the field, too. “Today I cut 180 acres in six-and-a-half hours,” he says, “and I couldn’t have done that with any other machine.”
Their dealer, Luke Sharpe, of Sharpe Equipment and Irrigation in Salida, says that the care and ability of the operators also play a role in how well the couple do their jobs. “Monte and Julie work their butts off, and their hay quality is phenomenal,” he says.
Their new Hesston by Massey Ferguson 2170 XD baler, which is being pulled by an MF6495 tractor, is making and saving them money, too. “Our new baler is a home run for us,” Monte says.
The 2170 XD produces bales that are denser, heavier. Because of that, they can now get 26 to 27 tons of hay on a semi trailer truck for shipment, rather than 22 tons.
“That saves us about 50 loads per season,” says Monte, “which saves us about $25,000 in shipping costs.”
As for the tractor, “it is phenomenal on fuel running the baler,” Monte says. “I kept calling the dealership saying, ‘I think the fuel gauge is wrong.’
“It wasn’t broke; it was just getting that much better fuel economy.”
The Saunders family is on their eighth generation raising crops close to Shelbina near the Salt River and Black Creek in northeast Missouri. Ancestor Henry Saunders traveled here from Kentucky in 1833, and by 1837 was hand-making the bricks and cutting down the walnut trees used in the construction of the two-story home in which Phillip Saunders lives today.
Phillip, 55, laughs that he’s been using Massey Ferguson® and AGCO equipment for nearly as long. “I have seven generations in the shed,” says Saunders, whose sons, Chris and now Luke, are part of the operation.
“When I was a kid, our neighbor had a Massey-Harris tractor,” Phillip says. “That was my first acquaintance and I liked those tractors.” The first tractor he owned was a 1976 MF1105. “That tractor was excellent for us, and that’s where my strong feelings for the brand began,” he says.
His devotion over the years also included numerous AGCO models, such as the 9695 and the 9655. “Those were very strong, heavy-built tractors—very good tractors.”
The new flagship of the family operation—purchased from The Farm Shop, in Edina, Mo.—is the 225-hp Massey Ferguson 8660 tractor with a Dyna VT™ continuously variable transmission. Saunders raves about the power and the fuel consumption.
“This tractor is bigger and more powerful than our previous main one, but it uses 20% less fuel,” Phillip says. “It really adds up to a lot of savings.” The MF8660 also has the additional hydraulic power needed to run the air pumps on their new planters.
As for cab comfort, Phillip didn’t give it much thought at the time of purchase. Now, after logging scores of hours in the machine the past year, he’s a believer in the hydraulic suspension in the cab. “I don’t know what else you could do in terms of comfort. I’d like to have another one just like it,” he says.
As Massey Ferguson® rolls out its newest tractor series, one Georgia farmer takes time from his busy schedule to try out a demo.
For Lee Powers, time is at a premium. Most days he’s out of the house around 5:30 a.m. to feed and check on at least one of his two herds that he raises on two separate tracks. He also owns a construction business with the majority of the work—mostly commercial buildings, such as doctors’ offices—located in metro Atlanta, approximately 50 miles east of his home and farmland.
Still, he scratched out a little time when Roger Harrod, his Massey Ferguson dealer at Georgia Deer Farm & Agri-Center in the small community of Roopville, approached him with a proposition.
Roger had a demo model of a new MF4609 tractor. It’s one of three models in the Massey Ferguson 4600 Series that has received considerable press and been eagerly awaited by many farmers for its reported versatility and leading-edge technologies, including a 3.3-liter, 3-cylinder engine that’s said to be extremely efficient and powerful.
“It’s a nice, all-around-size tractor for somebody like Lee,” says Roger. “It’s for guys who aren’t full-time farmers, but they want to keep their place up. I’d say it’s a good hay tractor—perfect for cutting and bush hogging.”
Lee is already a Massey Ferguson customer—the owner of two tractors, an MF573 and MF5455. “The 5455 is the best tractor I’ve ever had in the hay field. Period,” says Lee. “I’ve been on all kinds of tractors, and it has spoiled me.” He says he’s enjoyed the MF5455 so much because everything is right at his fingertips, there’s plenty of power, and the visibility is wonderful.
Since Lee first bought the land, Frank has helped with his son’s farms, a 100-acre spread in Carrollton, Ga., where they raise 50 Black Angus cattle, and a 40-acre tract with about 22 head of Herefords in Hogansville. With other side hay jobs they have acquired—including managing a 205-acre tract of land belonging to the city of Hogansville—Lee estimates they cut and bale around 700 acres of hay twice and sometimes three times per year.
That translates to lots and lots of hay, factors they kept in mind during their time with the MF4609. As it is with many farmers, fuel usage was near the top of their list of concerns. To that end, Lee and Frank were happy with the 3-cylinder AGCO Power engine. “It seems to be fuel-efficient,” says Frank. “I was able to bush hog all day on a full tank.”
They also were looking for something to provide the power they needed. “I have been very, very pleased with the power it has,” says Lee. “As far as pulling, it is perfect for running a 15-foot bush hog. We were even cutting some wet stuff, and it was pulling through there just fine.”
The new power shuttle transmission was also a plus. “The transmission is smooth,” says Lee. “It’s like the cat’s meow. You can shift on the go, and the clutch is easy.”
Lee is already envisioning how an MF4609 might play a significant role on his farms, especially when it comes to raking, cutting and baling hay.
“There’s a 99.9% chance I’m going to buy that tractor,” he says.
To read the full story and to learn more about three key features of the MF4609 that separate it from the pack, visit http://www.myfarmlife.com/features/time-is-money/. To find out when you can check out a new Massey Ferguson 4600 Series tractor, contact your local dealer.