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.
A New Generation of farmers is transforming the way the world is farmed and is demanding the most appropriate tractors, harvesters and equipment.
That was the message from Thierry Lhotte, Vice President of Sales and Marketing Massey Ferguson EAME at the “For a New Generation from Massey Ferguson” SIMA Press Conference this week.
Mr Lhotte referred to a New Generation of young people who are choosing farming as a career because of its bright future.
“Their youthful enthusiasm, energy and optimism is combined with a growing demand for food and fuel across the world. They are open-minded and ready to embrace the opportunities that come their way. For them change is ‘business as normal.’ Compare this to more established businesses for whom ‘business as usual’ means a steady decline.”
He said that no country across the world is immune from generational change and that in Europe it is countries in Eastern Europe that are at the forefront of change. Others such as France and Germany are catching up and that the most dramatic changes are set to take place in countries such as Portugal, Italy and the UK, which currently have the eldest farmers.
“But it is important to stress that the New Generation of change is not just about age, the key thing is attitude. Without the right attitude, no farmer, whether they are 25 years-old, 45 years-old or 65 years-old, will succeed. And the New Generation of younger farmers are reliant on and benefit from the experience and guidance of their predecessors”
Mr Lhotte said that a New Generation of farmers is responding to the changing demands of consumers who want safe, reliable and affordable sources of food and energy as well high quality products that link them to farmers.
“In the past the farm stopped at the farm gate – no longer. Across the world younger farmers are taking over family farms and revolutionising the way they are operated. Countries such as Brazil and China and those in Africa are at the forefront of this change and European farmers have to respond to this challenge, particularly as most of the growing markets are outside Europe.”
A New Generation of farmers provides exciting opportunities for Massey Ferguson, a global machinery brand that continues to deliver a New Generation of straightforward innovation and dependability. Mr Lhotte highlighted the new MF 6600 Series tractors, launched at SIMA, which complete the ‘Super Six’ Range of most advanced Massey Ferguson tractors ever“Like the other ‘600’ ranges, the MF 6600 Series has been designed to meet the needs of the New Generation of farmer who is demanding a smart, efficient, clean and reliable tractor to increase output and preserve resources such as the soil and environment.
“The New Generation of farmers are looking to adopt the next generation of machines as soon as they can and want to influence their development. This is particularly exciting for us at Massey Ferguson as we have always taken the lead in developing the appropriate solutions farmers need. That is why we continue to invest in research and development, in young people and understanding the needs of both the New Generation of farmers and the Next Generation of farmers.”
At the SIMA, Paris Show Massey Ferguson begins its celebrations to honour the 75th anniversary of the introduction of the MH-20 – the world’s first ever self-propelled combine harvester.
Introduced in 1938, the MH-20 pioneered a harvesting revolution, for the first time separating the tractor from the trailed reaper machines, providing large area farmers with huge gains in productivity and performance. The machine not only made a massive leap forward in farm mechanisation, but also introduced the term ‘combine harvester’ and laid the foundations for further harvesting innovations.
And today Massey Ferguson continues to be pioneer new thinking. With many years of experience of working closely with farmers to develop new equipment to meet the challenges of today and tomorrow, the company relishes the opportunity to be the catalyst for new ideas and new techniques, as it has so often in the past.
“Massey Ferguson is currently enjoying increased success in its global performance, mainly based on major investments across its product line that are geared to meet the needs of a very diverse range of farmers, who need a complete line up of machinery that they can depend on.
“Against this background Massey Ferguson is very pleased to announce the beginning of a year of celebrations to commemorate 75 years of the self-propelled combine harvester,” comments Campbell Scott, Brand Development Manager.
“Massey Ferguson is hugely proud to have been the innovator of so many designs that are now found as standard on farm machinery, such as three-point linkage, Electronic Linkage Control and SCR engine technology. We are also immensely proud that our forefathers in Massey-Harris were the first to introduce a self-propelled combine harvester.
“As we celebrate this remarkable achievement, and its 75th anniversary, we look forward to reaping the rewards of our major investments in harvesting technology that we have seen over during the past three years, and ensuring continued success for farmers, new and old, who put their faith in our brand,” he adds.
The MH-20 – the world’s first self-propelled combine
The Massey-Harris MH-20 – the world’s first successful self-propelled harvester – was probably the most significant development in harvesting history. Introduced in 1938, the Massey-Harris MH-20 combine harvest not only replaced the name ‘Reaper-Thresher’, but arrived as the first ever serious rival to trailed harvesters, which were already popular in many countries. Although there had been other attempts to develop self-propelled combines, up till then none were successful.
But the new Massey-Harris harvester was an immediate success. It worked well, it was popular with large area cereal growers and it was the first in a new generation of harvesters that would eventually replace trailed models on all but the smallest farms.
One reason for the why the MH-20 succeeded where others failed, was the long established expertise Massey-Harris acquired designing and building grain harvesting machinery. Another crucial factor was the skill of Tom Carroll, leader of the MH-20 design project. Tom was an Australian who moved to Argentina and was then recruited by Massey-Harris for his specialist harvest machinery knowledge.
He was keen that Massey-Harris should develop a self-propelled combine and managed to obtain approval for the ambitious project. He and his team started work on the combine at the company’s engineering centre in Canada in 1936 and within two years eight pre-production prototypes were delivered to farms in Argentina for the field test programme. Feedback on their performance was so positive that production was authorised immediately and the first of the revolutionary new combines were delivered to customers early in 1939.
Tom designed the new harvester as a high output machine for large area growers. It was equipped with a 16ft (4.9m) header which was wide by 1930’s standards. Although the MH-20 was a heavy machine and expensive, it proved to be popular with customers who wanted the benefits of self-propelled harvesting.
The layout of the MH-20 was similar to a modern combine with the header at the front where it could open up a field without the risk of crop damage caused by the wheels of a trailed combine. The driving position was above the centre of the header with an excellent view of the cutting action, and the steering wheels at the rear gave good manoeuvrability compared with a tractor-powered combine.
The MH-20 was built on a steel girder chassis and was powered by a petrol engine which was also used, together with some driveline components, in Massey-Harris tractors. The petrol tank for the engine was under the driver’s seat.
With the new combine performing well with big acreage growers, including export demand from countries such as America and Argentina, Massey-Harris was already working on the next project. The aim was to develop a new smaller, lighter and more affordable self-propelled harvester providing a combine that would sell in large numbers to smaller farms.
Sales of the big MH-20 totalled an impressive 925 machines over two years, but when the new MH-21 combine arrived in 1941 with its 12ft (3.7m) header it created a huge demand with annual production peaking at 10,000 plus in 1949.
During the Second World War Massey-Harris, with the MH-21, pioneered the ‘Harvesting Brigade’. The company gained permission to build a fleet of combines, which worked from the southern states following the ripening harvest north, and in the process harvested more than a million acres in one year.
With the MH-20 and MH-21 combines Massey-Harris achieved an important breakthrough in grain harvesting, which other combine manufacturers were forced to follow. Tom Carroll’s role in the success story was not forgotten and he was awarded a Gold Medal in 1958 by the American Society of Agricultural Engineers to recognise his contribution to combine harvester development.
More young Africans will be looking at a future in farming thanks to a catchy new song – ‘Youth in Agriculture’, written and performed by the MEGA Fame Foundation from Ghana.