In 2010, John and Beth Barth of Bushnell, Fla., realized they needed a tractor to maintain their land and tend to their grove of olive trees. “We didn’t really know what to buy,” John says. “We wanted a small tractor.”
The Barths drove to Brooksville, Fla., 30 minutes away and purchased a shiny red GC2400. “We knew it was a good name,” says John of the Massey Ferguson® brand. They also purchased a rotary cutter, a front-end loader, a potato puller and a disk for all the needs on their property.
In the five-plus years the Barths have owned the tractor, John has put more than 285 hours on the machine. “I’ve spent hundreds of hours with the front-end loader, moving wood chips, soil and driveway stone,” he says, noting it’s a small but powerful tractor, especially considering he uses it to maintain 10 acres.
“It’s not a big machine,” John explains, “but it’s perfect. It’s quick; that’s one of the nice things about it. The tractor gets around the front yard and house real fast.”
John also cites comfort. “It’s saved my back a million times,” he says.
“The tractor has been a godsend, a blessing for us,” John adds. “It always runs! That’s the main thing. Our tractor has been a very, very good thing for us.”
For their full story, see Liquid Gold: Growing Olives in the Sunshine State.
“Our topography is pretty steep,” says Garry Esser about the less-than-level land he farms. “It’s a challenge, but,” he says with a grin, “you’re never bored.”
Raising a variety of crops, including wheat, barley and canola, as well as peas and pulse crops, Esser and his son John farm land in the ever-undulating Palouse region of western Idaho. It’s a tough assignment for most tractors, according to Esser, who farms on some steep slopes.
That’s one of the reasons he runs Challenger® track tractors, including an MT855. “They just stick there like glue … and they’re light and nimble,” he says.
Esser notes that with the rubber-track Challengers, “You’ve got the speed of a wheel tractor for moving up and down the road, and yet still have the benefits of the tractor sticking to the hills. And, they get power to the ground per weight like nothing I’ve ever driven.”
Due to a need to reduce compaction, weight is a particular concern for Esser. “In the spring, when we’re fighting compaction, we can lighten this tractor up … and still pull our equipment because the Challenger line has done a real good job of getting [power] to the ground.” He adds that “a lot of the competitors’ tractors weigh 60,000 pounds when they’re delivered, and you really can’t do a lot with that. That’s just heavy.”
Running just two tractors, uptime is critical for the Essers. They rely on Agri-Service in Pasco, Wash., for parts and service. “We’ve known them a long time,” Esser says. “Their guys are sharp. They’re real responsive. We’ve been very pleased with their service.”
Dan Baum was one of the first farmers in the U.S. to own and operate a Massey Ferguson® 9545 combine. The machine is outfitted with an AGCO 9250 DynaFlex® draper header, which helps him maintain the high level of efficiency he needs during the busy harvest season, an important part of his operational equation.
“We’ve had Massey Ferguson equipment on our farm for at least four generations,” says Baum, whose farm base is 24 miles from Moline, Ill. “When I was a kid, we traveled 15 miles, not 120 miles,” like he does today. “Back then, that was a big distance.”
“We’ve got one fleet, and it does it all. We typically start planting down south and work our way north,” he says. “We couldn’t do all of this without our machinery technology. We’re not always on the leading edge of technology unless it helps us gain efficiency.”
This approach puts a premium on performance, and that’s a big reason Baum chose a Massey Ferguson combine: “We’re looking at fuel efficiency, ease of maintenance and simplicity of design.
“We’re pretty handy, and our team does a lot of our own repairs if we have time. These machines are designed to be user-friendly, and easy to repair and maintain. It was obvious that the folks at Massey Ferguson had repair and maintenance in mind when they designed them.”
Operation is also straightforward. “It’s easy for me to train an employee in that machine. That’s of value to me,” he adds. “When we’re running multiple machines and operators, I don’t have to train them to be rocket scientists. It’s not overwhelming for my operators.”
Baum purchases his Massey Ferguson and other AGCO equipment from A.C. McCartney, operator of four dealerships in west-central Illinois. He has a strong relationship with the dealership, and the trust underpinning that relationship is something he calls a huge value to a young farmer in his position.
“We work hard on building relationships and trust in the industry. Young farmers like us need to be willing to work hard and work differently,” Baum says. A solid, trustworthy dealership, he says, helps him stand out.
Ron Thompson treats his Massey Ferguson® 1528 tractor like a farmhand, using it for farm chores such as cultivating the fields, hauling bushels of produce and spreading chicken manure. His tractorless neighbors also count on the tractor (and Thompson) to help spread topsoil in the spring.
The compact model, he says, is perfect for his 9-acre farm in Rockwood, Ontario. “I put it through a lot and it keeps going,” Thompson says.
In Marshall, N.C., Stephen Robertson appreciates the 4-wheel drive and wide stance of his Massey Ferguson 243 to move manure and drill seed on the hilly terrain of his 40-acre farm. The stability the tractor provides is one of his favorite features, and other farmers have taken note. “I have a lot of friends who would love to have this tractor,” he says.
Thompson and Robertson appreciate the ease of purchasing new parts for their tractors, though both note their models almost never need repairs. When Robertson needs parts, he calls Wells Repair in Greenville, Tenn.; Thompson relies on Connect Equipment, the largest AGCO dealership in Southern Ontario, to service his tractor.
“They can always tell me exactly what’s wrong and get it fixed, so I can get it back on the farm,” Thompson says. “I depend on that tractor.”
Like his grandfather, Cody Waters buys Massey Ferguson tractors and serves in the military. These days, Waters, who farms both near his current home in Missouri and also where he was raised in Southern Illinois, owns an MF235, an MF275 and an MF285, in addition to two Gleaner F2 combines and an N6 combine.
“They’re standardized. They’re tough and they’re easy to work on,” he says of his AGCO equipment. “They’re nimble, easy to handle and easy on fuel.”
Waters acknowledges that his older equipment does not come without headaches. Breakdowns can be all the more troublesome for someone who works a full-time job, serves in the National Guard, farms in two states and has a young family. Yet his dealership, Lauf Equipment Co. Inc. in Jefferson City, Missouri, has been a port in the storm when repairs are needed, he says, with high praise for the dealer’s ability to respond quickly to his requests.
He buys parts and gets advice from Lauf’s knowledgeable staff. “They usually have the part on hand, and they have a good service department,” he says.
Waters, who’s been deployed overseas twice in his 15-year career with the Army National Guard, helped Afghan farmers improve their farming operations when he served as part of an Agribusiness Development Team. While in that war-torn country, he witnessed an ingenuity similar to farmers back home. He also saw much of the durability and versatility in Massey Ferguson tractors while there.
USAID donated 40-plus-HP tractors, including MF240 models, to help the Afghan farmers. According to Waters, they were a good fit for the Afghan operations because of their “small size, simplicity [and] power.” The Massey Ferguson machines also got points for durability and fuel efficiency in a country where fuel is expensive and trained mechanics are almost impossible to find.