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Harvesting Pollen: Nothing to Sneeze At

There aren’t many farmers in North America who intentionally plant and nourish weeds on their farm. But Jim Sneed, who farms about 400 acres near Sedalia, Mo., is anything but conventional.

The 10-acre plot of ragweed he plants each year should be proof enough. That’s because Sneed is one of a small number of farmers across the U.S. and Canada who collect pollen from a variety of grasses, trees and weeds, and sell their harvest to pharmaceutical companies that turn the pollen into extracts for treating and testing of allergies.

Jason and Jim Sneed, among the ragweed.

Jason and Jim Sneed, among the ragweed.

Sneed is actually the second generation to manage the pollen collection business, having taken over from his late father, who began collecting pollen back in 1968. Today, Sneed and his wife, Stephanie, along with their youngest son, Jason, run their pollen collection business.

“All total, there are about 50 different plants and trees from which we collect pollen,” he told us last summer. “Of course, we don’t harvest every type of pollen every year. We generally get a list of requests early in the year, so we have time to plant a particular crop if we need to.”

Sneed, who prefers not to share many of his methods and innovations for fear of giving away too many hard-earned secrets, notes that pollen harvesting has little in common with growing corn or soybeans. For starters, there isn’t any equipment commercially available for pollen harvest.

Instead, Sneed designed and built two of his own machines. Tree pollen, meanwhile, is collected with the aid of two bucket trucks.

Sneed also bales many of the grasses and clover he uses for pollen production. For that work he trusts a Massey Ferguson® 2946A model round baler with a silage kit. “It’s been working perfectly,” Sneed relates.

See the full story: Harvesting Pollen: Nothing to Sneeze At

Great Hay Equipment, Great Hay Yields

“I haven’t used anything but Hesston hay equipment since I got into the hay business more than 20 years ago,” Randy McGee says, noting that his current inventory includes a WR9770 windrower and three Hesston by Massey Ferguson® balers on his Idalou, Texas, farm. “The greatest asset right now, though, is the double conditioner on the windrower. It allows me to bale at least a day earlier and usually saves one cutting or more each year from getting rained on.”

McGee shows off alfalfa cut with a double conditioner on his Massey Ferguson WR9770.

McGee shows off alfalfa cut with a double conditioner on his Massey Ferguson WR9770.

“Between the drip irrigation system, which lets me get water on the field quicker than normal, and the double conditioner, which allows me to reduce drying time and get the hay baled and off the field quicker, I’m currently cutting a crop every 21 to 24 days.”

When it comes to baling his hay, though, McGee has three options. Most of the dairy hay is put up in 4- x 4-foot bales with an MF2190 large square baler. However, he also has an MF2846A for round bales that go to local feedyards and a Hesston 4590 small rectangular baler for horse hay.

All three balers, as well as the windrower, were purchased from Livingston Equipment Company in Muleshoe, Texas. Plus, McGee is also getting a fourth piece of Massey Ferguson hay equipment—an RK Series rotary rake—that he can use for a year for having the highest overall relative feed quality (RFQ) score in last year’s Southeastern Hay Contest. (Massey Ferguson joined the program in 2015 as the title sponsor of the event and grand-prize contributor.)

“Until I bought the MF2190 big baler, I had been using an older Hesston 4910,” McGee relates. “The difference is unbelievable. With nearly double the capacity, baling takes a lot less time, which further contributes to the short time plants go without irrigation.”

For more information on the Massey Ferguson WR9770 Windrower or the Hesston by Massey Ferguson balers, see your nearest Massey Ferguson dealer or visit online at masseyferguson.us.

See the full story: This Alfalfa Hay Quality Is Off The Charts

Massey Ferguson 8737: A Legacy of Quality Continues

Being named the 2015 Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year was very good for Danny Kornegay. Among other prizes, the North Carolina farmer received a year’s use of a Massey Ferguson® 8737 tractor. The prize had a sort of back-to-the-future feel for Kornegay, who recalls as a boy riding and working on a Massey Ferguson 35 Deluxe tractor on his family’s then part-time operation.

Danny Kornegay

Danny Kornegay

The tractors in the 8700 Series, with 8.4-liter, 6-cylinder AGCO POWER™ engines, deliver 270 to 370 max engine HP. An Engine Power Management (EPM) system also offers an additional 30-HP boost when needed to provide more torque and power to a particular application.

“I like the features of the tractor, and it is well built,” says Danny’s son, Dan. “The Dyna-VT™ transmission is very nice because you don’t have to change gears,” says Danny. “The extended cab is really nice, and the comfortable ride may be the best feature.”

This line of tractors also features the new CYCLAIR™ cooling system that increases performance by maximizing air flow through a series of coolers and out through a redesigned hood. Vents in the hood split the air flow to expel hot air, while directing cool, fresh air toward the main radiator.

The 8700 Series tractors can be equipped with front 3-point hitches with a lift capacity up to 11,023 pounds. There is also a newly redesigned rear 3-point hitch that’s easier to use and offers an increased lift capacity of 26,355 pounds.

For more information on the Massey Ferguson 8700 Series tractors, see your nearest Massey Ferguson dealer or visit online at masseyferguson.us.

See the full story: Massey Ferguson 8737: A Legacy of Quality Continues

Massey Ferguson Combination Provides High-performance and Hassle-Free Operation for Hay Contractor.

Busy Central Otago contractor David O’Neill has a fleet of eight Massey Ferguson and seven Fendt tractors, but tractors are not the only AGCO machinery his business runs. He also has four Massey Ferguson square balers and a Massey Ferguson telehandler.

David O’Neill Contracting Ltd is based at Omarama and offers a range of services from baling, to spreading to cultivation and direct drilling.

His newest big square baler is a Massey Ferguson 2250 TPC bought last season. It’s his fourth MF baler, and it makes 875mm x 880mm bales.

The TPC stands for tandem (axle) and packer cutter. This is the first baler David’s had with a packer cutter. Instead of a rotor feeding the crop into the chamber it has a packer.

David says a rotor works fine for round balers because they need a continuous flow of crop, but a square baler packs in the grass, compresses it, and then picks up more crops. Therefore it works better without a continuous flow.

“A rotor does a beautiful job when conditions are perfect, but not so good when you are outside the window. A packer copes better with variations in a crop.”

David likes the simplicity of his MF balers. “It’s a nice simple baler. If anything goes wrong, it’s easy to fix. Some of the European balers have fancy drive shafts and clutches and are more complicated with more things to go wrong. We like to keep things simple up here.”

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For 90 percent of its life the MF 2250 TPC makes baleage from grass or lucerne. It does a tiny bit of straw and hay and all up makes about 10,000 bales per season.

The operator sets the bale density from the cab, but other than that the baler sorts itself out. It beeps when it has tied the bale and beeps as it is ejected.

Square balers aren’t renowned for their stability, but the tandem axle makes a big difference. “The tandem is really good. It sticks to the side of the hill better. We pull the MF 2250 with a Fendt 818.”

David also has an older model MF 2150T baler. It is packer baler with no cutter.

“It’s a good simple baler and easy to operate. This last year it was on straw duty and made about 3000 bales.”

Another recent piece of kit is the Massey Ferguson telehandler that David bought in autumn 2015. He already had two telehandlers, which he used to load the wrapper and fert trucks, but the workshop boys also wanted one.

A salesman from JJs in Timaru dropped off the MF 9407S telehandler for them to try and it never left. Its main job now is loading the bale wrapper during the season, while one of the older telehandlers is busy unloading trucks at the workshop and any other lifting job required in a busy workplace.

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The MF 9407S is 130hp with a max lift of 3.5 tonnes up to 7.0m. It has hydrostatic transmission with two speed ranges – paddock and road.

There are three ways to steer it: two wheel, four-wheel steer and crab. Most of the time David and his crew have it in four-wheel steer for easy manoeuvring, but occasionally in tight spots it’s in crab to go sideways.

It has plenty of safety features with a roll over cab roof and protection from falling items. It has a series of lights on the dash indicating safe position for the load. If a load is approaching a dangerous position, the lights approach the red, and the driver has time to change their mind.

David has bought all his AGCO equipment from JJs Timaru. He says it is actually hard to judge the quality of the back-up service JJs provides as nothing seems to go wrong with their products.

“They rarely come out here as we don’t seem to need it. But when we bought something completely different, like the telehandler, then they came out to show us all the things on it.”

 

The increasing benefit and necessity of efficient residue management in your fields

Come fall, you’ve put in almost a year’s worth of toil and sweat to reap a plentiful harvest. When that time comes, the next thing on your (or any farmer’s) mind is the crop residue left behind.

As efficiency in farming techniques have increased, production and stalk size have as well. Such a plentiful result leaves similarly plentiful stover. Managing stover and maintaining yields in  subsequent harvests is becoming more and more challenging. Farmer has to manage their own residue, and it is a tedious and inefficient process presently. Too much stover can limit seed choices, require more tillage, limit planting populations, affect plant emergence, require increased spraying, and most importantly, hinder grain yield.

There is, however, another way to channel the byproducts of your harvest, which can not only benefit you financially but, can also contribute to the health of your fields, livestock, and subsequent harvests.

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Those seemingly lifeless leaves and stalks, your stover, left languishing in your field after the previous harvest could become quite valuable as processes of energy conversion, feedstock, and a great many other applications continue to improve.

As innovations to handling, baling, and converting stover become more and more viable, it’s important for farmers to stay on the cutting edge of these developments for the future.

But you may have heard such practices, while allegedly profitable, can harm soil and cause issues to crop yields.

Years ago that may have been the case. Lighter corn yields meant less stover and less likelihood for problems. Soil damage and erosion are a constant concern. But we have learned that in many cases, the benefits of pulling some of the stover from the field are far from detrimental.

The science has improved significantly. It’s been shown that it is beneficial to remove some of the stover from the field. Not to mention in an agricultural climate where global surpluses have left many crops (particularly corn) at prices well below that of production, finding another means of income is vital.

But what are we really talking about? It’s simple, really. Plant and harvest as you always would. The same way you, and your father, and grandfather before him did. Following the harvest, however, you need only collect and densely bale the remaining stover. And if that sounds daunting, that’s where AGCO’s Biomass Solutions team can help you get it done.

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Then of course comes the question – “What exactly do you do with it?” There are a number of companies that can utilize and add value to your stover. One such company that removes and bales densely packed stover is Pellet Technology USA (PTUSA). They convert the baled stover into feed pellets for your livestock, high in fiber, protein, energy and other nutrients essential to a healthy diet. These pellets provide a necessary source of food, with a key ingredient from the residue residing in your fields.

These feed pellets provide options for overwintering beef cowherd and/or ration inclusion in starter, grower and finishing rations.

Stover can also be converted to energy pellets. These “power pellets” are then sent to biorefineries for conversion into biofuels, particularly ethanol. There is currently a growing demand for such pelleted residue to produce these fuels, as the market for alternative fuel sources continues to grow.

When weighed against all factors, residue management will become a necessary step farms must take to remain profitable and healthy in today’s precarious agricultural climate.

And as innovations and processes for stover removal, baling, and conversion continue, more and more companies will join this movement to give farmers the necessary incentives to consider selling their ag residue.

The stover is there. Now we must develop the infrastructure to catch up.

We mentioned PTUSA above as one of the industry leaders in stover removal, dense baling, and pelleting. Next time we’ll be venturing more into what is done, the marketplace, and how farmers will greatly benefit from the services they provide.

Stay tuned for that post in the coming weeks.

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