We have a vision to change the future of farming. In 2013, we planted the seed for a Future Farm and training center to empower the world’s farmers with education, training and technology. This month, the first AGCO Future Farm officially opens in Zambia. The state-of-the-art facility includes a mechanized solutions center, a grain and poultry learning center, and training programs focused on products, machines, business management and farming best practices.
AGCO has a strong commitment to agriculture in Africa. The Republic of Zambia is landlocked, bordered by eight neighboring countries. Its central location coupled with an economic focus on farming (agriculture accounts for 21.5 percent of the nation’s GDP) makes Zambia an ideal place for AGCO’s Future Farm prototype.
The Future Farm concept will develop a sustainable food production system that is able to increase farm output by utilizing Africa’s agricultural resources more efficiently. The Zambia center will facilitate agricultural support services to enable knowledge and increase food production on other area farms.
And Future Farm Zambia is more than just a training facility—it’s also a working farm. In 2015, 70.22 hectares were planted with maize, soybeans, sunflowers, sun hemp and other crops. The farm’s expected yields this year include 7.5 tonnes/hectare of maize and 1.4 tonnes/hectare of soybeans.
In addition to area farmers, local organizations will benefit from the Future Farm as well. AGCO Zambia has supported the Chikumbuso Women and Orphans Project in Lusaka, which provides free education for children, adult training and community building programs. The Future Farm donates soybeans and maize to help the project’s feeding program and kitchen enterprise.
In addition, AGCO Zambia supports the Chalimbana Youth project in partnership with the Africa 4H Council and Future Farm Partners. As part of this project, younger children learn agricultural practices and grow food for their families through an Enterprise Garden, and older participants learn to start and sustain small agro-enterprises through an entrepreneurship group.
The AGCO Future Farm project has the potential to have a significant impact through a range of agricultural solutions, such as crop protection, precision farming, seeding and fertilizing, and strong partnerships will be key to its success. Additional Future Farms partners include AquaCheck, Bayer Crop Science, Harper Adams University, Musika, GCS Water Management, Seedco, University of Zambia, Valley and Yara.
“I believe we have a unique opportunity to develop a new vision for how small, medium, and large-scale farmers can develop not just in Zambia, but throughout the region,” said Mark Briggs, director of Precision Decisions Zambia Limited and also Co-Chair for the Future Farm Partners Steering Committee. “The idea of having a group of experts, not just from the manufacturing sector but also service sectors, engaged in developing products and services, offering training to farm workers, managers and, indeed, individuals working in the broader agricultural arena, is very exciting.”
What does the future hold for the Future Farm? Stay tuned to our blog or follow @AGCOcorp on Twitter for updates from Zambia and other AGCO initiatives around the world.
Craig Holm is always looking for some new practice or technology that can help on his farm, but only those that offer a solid return. One such leg up has been his Massey Ferguson® and other AGCO equipment.
“They’re second to nothing, that’s for sure,” says Holm, who runs a Massey Ferguson combine and three tractors. He also owns Sunflower, White Planters™ and a RoGator® from AGCO.
“The fuel efficiencies are amazing on these new machines,” he says, but without compromising on power and capacity. “These new engines are set up to use the power that they need, but the computers back them down,” says Holm.
Speaking of his MF9560 combine, Holm says, “For that combine to do a 300-acre day is really not even a hard day.”
His two agronomy consultants, both of whom rode with him, as well as farmers who run other brands, declared it the best of the lot. “They said the other brands out there don’t compare.”
Holm is a willing but cautious adaptor of innovative machinery and other solutions. “One of the biggest payback pieces of technology I could see is autosteer. Everything I have has it,” he says of AGCO’s Auto-Guide™ 3000.
The technology on his 1194H RoGator has provided exceptional payback. Often spraying fields three times during the growing season, compaction and crop damage are a concern. Yet the RoGator has four-wheel steering, which keeps all the tires in just two tracks, lessening plant damage.
Holm has a terrific relationship with his dealer, Judson Implement and other AGCO-related dealers, and he appreciates AGCO’s stance on making their technological solutions compatible with other brands. “Some of these companies are trying to tie you with their technology,” says Holm. “I don’t like getting tied up with a single company, that’s why I hire our agronomy service.
“We do it together as a team and we pick and choose who we go to.” AGCO, he says, gives him that choice.
Elroy Panbecker’s “bring it on” attitude toward the newest and best farming technology belies his 69 years. That’s why this veteran farmer has been using AGCO equipment for decades. Today’s horsepower stable includes a Gleaner® R65 combine, a Sunflower® 4412 disc ripper, a well-preserved AGCO-brand RT120-A tractor, a Massey Ferguson® 3645 and the young stud, a Massey Ferguson 8680 tractor.
“I think it is probably the leading technology out here, as far as fuel efficiency is concerned,” says Elroy of the 8680. It, like all 8600 series tractors, is equipped with the 8.4-liter AGCO SISU POWER engine that, when coupled with the tractor’s CVT (continuously variable transmission), provides some of the best—if not the best—fuel efficiency in the market. “The nice part,” adds Elroy’s son Terry, “is that the smooth transmission and fuel efficiency don’t sacrifice overall power or low-end torque to get whatever job is on our plate.”
Terry also appreciates AGCO’s efforts, through Fuse Technologies, at making its equipment compatible with a broad array of technologies and tools from other companies. For instance, the Panbeckers use third-party displays and controllers they are familiar with to run equipment such as their planter. “I think this will be the future with new implements and tractors,” he says.
PacificAg operates the largest agricultural residue and forage harvesting business in the U.S., and also maintains the country’s largest fleet of biomass harvesting equipment. That equipment includes one of the largest collections of Hesston large square balers in North America.
“The Hesston baler has been a staple of our program for 16 years,” says PacificAg CEO Bill Levy. That’s in large part due to comparisons with other brands that found the Hesston large square baler’s performance to be superior. “It runs more consistently with fewer breakdowns than any other large square baler,” he adds.
Charles Lalonde, with the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, agrees. “AGCO has upgraded the baler to improve efficiency and dramatically reduce downtime,” he says. “You don’t have to stop to replace parts. It runs continuously.”
Another critical upgrade, says Lalonde: “Four years ago, the baler could handle bales weighing 800 to 900 pounds; today, we have balers handling 1,300 pounds. The Hesston 2270XD large square baler … achieves the greatest amount of density per cubic foot.”
That density, says Glenn Farris, AGCO’s manager of segment strategy for biomass/industrials, has its definite advantages, resulting in lower transportation costs and fewer bales being shipped, no matter the material being handled.
“What has been important has been AGCO’s understanding of this emerging market,” Levy says of the biomass industry. ”They’re much more accessible than other manufacturers and offer more attention to customer service.”
As innovation in precision farming becomes increasingly important to Australian and New Zealand farming practices, the latest innovations in guidance technology are vital in any young graduate’s university curriculum.
With Fuse Technologies at the forefront of this innovation, AGCO Australia recently played host to a group of Bachelor of Business (Agribusiness) students from Geelong’s Marcus Oldham College.
Students were taken through a detailed information session by Advanced Technologies Product Manager Jeremy Duniam, followed by a question and answer session and a chance to take a closer look at some of the other exciting AGCO products.
Accompanying the students, Senior Lecturer Des Umbers said that it was vital graduates are exposed to advancements in on and off farm technologies to prepare them for best practice farming methods.
“Agribusiness courses can’t afford to have students graduate without an understanding of the latest technologies and innovations. It will help them in the future if they intend to work at large corporate farms or their own operations as well as help the older generation of farmers adapt,” says Des Umbers
Attending the visit was Marcus Oldham student Alex Baum already has a strong interest in precision farming. His family operates an 18,000 acre property in Western Australia and applies no-till “tram lining” to help reduce input costs and make fertiliser application more efficient.
“I am passionate about precision farming, it is really important on the farm as we try to save on inputs where we can. We need to add significant amounts of fertilizer – reducing those costs with efficient application is really important,” says Alex Baum.
AGCO Broad Acre manager Fergal Meehan was impressed by the quality of the student group and their positive attitude, seeing a bright future for the next generation of farm managers, contractors and consultants.
“It is great to see such an enthusiastic group embarking on a career in agriculture keen to learn about exciting advancements in precision farming. It was also a great opportunity for AGCO to showcase our industry leading technology to the next generation of agriculture leaders,” says Fergal Meehan.