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Expedition South – Conserving Sir Edmund Hillary’s Antarctic Hut

Massey Ferguson is proudly supporting another great adventure! The New Zealand Antarctic Heritage Trust’s #ExpeditionSouth, is an initiative to raise $1 million dollars for the conservation of Sir Edmund Hillary’s Hut on Antarctica’s Ross Island.

Hillary’s Hut A was the first building constructed at Scott Base and is where Sir Ed began his historic expedition to the South Pole in 1958 with the assistance of three TE20 Ferguson tractors.

Sir Edmund Hillary revisits his Scott Base hut.

Sir Edmund Hillary revisits his Scott Base hut.

Nearly 60 years on, Hillary’s hut is in a state of disrepair and a comprehensive conservation plan has been developed in order to save a valuable slice of New Zealand’s history –  but they need your help to make it happen!

In a tribute to Hillary’s 2012 kilometres journey, a team of drivers will raise awareness of the campaign as they embark on a journey traversing New Zealand on three tractors – two of them the same Ferguson TE-20 tractor models used by Hillary’s team, the other – a modern MF5600 Antarctica2, based on the MF5610 series used by “Tractor Girl” Manon Ossevort’s 2014/15 Antarctic2 tractor expedition.

Sir Edmund Hillary on a Ferguson TE20 during the original 1958 Expedition

Sir Edmund Hillary on a Ferguson TE20 during the original 1958 Expedition

 

#ExpeditionSouth will harness that intrepid spirit of the original journey, travelling the highways and back roads of New Zealand, visiting Hillary “hotspots” throughout NZ as well as local schools. Along the journey, local NZ Massey Ferguson dealers will make sure the team and their tractors are well looked after as they raise awareness of the Heritage Trust’s important conservation goals.

Antarctic Heritage Trust Director Nigel Watson says Sir Ed’s original decision to go to the South Pole was a bold move.

“No-one had been overland since Captain Scott in 1912. Sir Ed was on the Ice supporting the Trans-Antarctic Expedition, and his decision to push on to the Pole with three Ferguson tractors was controversial. But of course they made it – the first trip overland to the South Pole by motor vehicle.”

The #expeditionsouth team and their trusty machines.

The #expeditionsouth and their trusty machines.

Piha Beach (one of Sir Ed’s favourite places) marks the starting point of the team’s journey that will finish just below Hillary Ridge at Aoraki on Mt Cook. While not having to face the icy conditions of Antarctica, the team will face a four week journey through a variety of changeable conditions across New Zealand’s north and south island that will test both the drivers and their machines.

“We’re very pleased to have Massey Ferguson on board with us and supporting such a valuable and worthwhile cause. The brand has a very strong connection with Sir Ed that stems back to his original expedition to the South Pole,” says Nigel.

 

#expeditionsouth

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www.masseyferguson.com.au

www.expeditionsouth.nz

Ag Accelerators: Revving Up Innovation

Growing up on a farm in Caro, Mich., AGCO customer Jesse Vollmar noticed that tech was transforming other industries, but life on the farm remained labor-intensive and low-tech.

Although Jesse’s parents—who with the help of their Challenger tractors grow organic row crops like black beans and blue corn for retail giants like Chipotle—had broadband Internet and smartphones, records on their 1,200-acre farm were still kept with what he calls “cumbersome spreadsheets. There was a widening gap between what was possible and what was being applied on the farm,” Vollmar explains.

Vollmar is seen here with a Challenger tractor similar to one used on his family’s Michigan farm.

Vollmar is seen here with a Challenger tractor similar to one used on his family’s Michigan farm.

The farm kid saw an opportunity and turned into a tech entrepreneur. His goal: Create a solution to make crop management easier for farmers like his parents. The result: In 2012, Vollmar launched FarmLogs to help, he says, “farmers digitally manage their farms and to leverage data from their fields to improve their operations.”

The company, according to Vollmar, has developed new technology, including web and mobile field monitoring software that notifies farmers when yield threats are detected. FarmLogs also automatically records field activities and provides instant access to field-specific rainfall data, soil maps, yield maps and growth stage estimation.

While inspiration for the startup was rooted in his farm experience, Vollmar knew he needed funding, advice and connections for FarmLogs to grow into a thriving startup. Along with business partner Brad Koch, Vollmar applied to Y Combinator, a prestigious startup accelerator in Mountain View, Calif., to help launch FarmLogs.

For four months, the pair lived and worked in California, devoted 24/7 to developing the software and preparing to roll it out to farmers and investors. As part of the program, FarmLogs received $20,000 in startup capital and access to mentors who offered advice on all aspects of business development. It was the first ag tech startup accepted into the accelerator.

Since graduating from Y Combinator, FarmLogs has, according to Vollmar, raised $15 million in capital and captured about one-third of the market among row crop farmers with 100-plus acres in production. “We started [FarmLogs] before ag tech was a trend,” Vollmar notes. “No one could have even conceived of this five years ago, and now we’re growing at a pace that’s mind-blowing.”

For more, see http://www.myfarmlife.com/features/ag-accelerators-revving-up-innovation/.

Crop Tour 2016: Indiana Edition

By Darren Goebel

Greetings once again from Crop Tour 2016.   During the last week of July, I travelled to the Kevin Trimble farm in Amboy, Indiana, about an hour north of Indianapolis.   While most of the Midwest has been getting plenty of rain, this pocket in north central, Indiana is super dry.   In fact, Kevin told me that his farm has not received any appreciable amount of rain since the latter part of June.

Crop Tour Sign

As a result of the dry weather, the crop is showing signs of stress, highlighting some key differences in our plots.

DeltaForce left-400# right

This is the split between automatic hydraulic downforce (DeltaForce) on the left and 400# downforce on the right.    Notice that the corn on the right is showing more drought stress; lower leaves are brown and desiccated with overall lighter plant color.   This is a result of heavy in furrow packing that created compaction in the root zone.  While you would not normally see this in a whole field, differences show up very clearly in the plot.  In a three-year study, growers that used DeltaForce averaged 11 bushels per acre higher yield.  I suspect the yield difference will be much higher in this field, but we will have to wait until fall to know for sure.

Compaction problems quickly show up when moisture is limiting.

IMG_2132

Kevin drove his backhoe along the end to demonstrate how automatic hydraulic down force can adjust to differences in soil bulk density.  Above: The crop is suffering in the compaction zone.  Below: Planting Map showing compaction zone.

Compaction zone

This report shows that compaction from backhoe path prior to planting caused Deltaforce to react at planting.

The depth of planting study is showing some interesting results.  Many growers plant corn shallow because they believe there is less risk in stand establishment.  Unfortunately, shallow planting can cause as many problems as it solves.   Most agronomists recommend a minimum of 1.5” planting depth with 2” preferred.  Of course, soil type and moisture level should be taken into account.  One great thing about White planters is that depth control can be calibrated to ensure consistent planting depth across the entire width of the planter.  In this case, the planter planted the corn consistently at 1” deep.  Unfortunately, there wasn’t uniform enough moisture at 1” to get all of the seed up consistently.

1_ planting depth - note runts

This is the split between 1” planting depth on the right and 1.5” planting depth on the left.  The 1” planting depth is exhibiting runt plants as a result of delayed emergence due to dry soils at that depth after planting.   These runt plants will not produce an ear.   The 1.5” and deeper planting depths do not have any issues with runt plants.   Stand establishment is similar at all planting depths (1.5, 2.0, 2.5, and 3.0) except 3.5” depth.   The 3.5” planting depth is suffering about a 10% reduction in stand.  We will take these plots to yield and share results in an upcoming report.

Stand uniformity in corn has been getting a lot of attention since the late 90s.   Most farmers and agronomists know there are heavy yield penalties for skips and doubles making planter performance absolutely critical.   Making things even more challenging, seed companies can’t always guarantee requested seed sizes for that hot new hybrid; and refuge in the bag is a whole other story since seed from different lots must be blended in the same bag.   The 9800VE series incorporates meters that can accurately singulate and row units that can accurately plant any corn seed size.

Near picket fence stand

Above:  Near picket fence stand.  Below:  Doubles and Skips from a poorly adjusted planter.

Skips and Doubles

During the last two weeks of August, a team of Agronomists and Product Specialists will be travelling throughout the Midwest speaking at Crop Tour 2016 plot locations. RSVP to attend a Crop Tour event near you: http://agcocropcare.com/crop-tour-rsvp/!

AGCO and SDI: More Power, Less Compaction

Nate Ray has some 25,000 hungry mouths to feed—all of them the bovine beauties at De Jager Farms’ eight dairies in California’s Central Valley. Specifically, Ray oversees operations on De Jager’s 17,000 acres of farmland, most of which is used to grow corn, wheat and alfalfa.

Over the years, Ray has helped introduce new practices at the farm, including subsurface drip irrigation (SDI). Yet, as is often the case, one change begets another, as when the use of SDI created an even greater need to reduce compaction.

Ray found the solution in the form of a Challenger® MT865E. “We chose this Challenger track machine for our minimum-tillage operations,” says Ray, “and basically it was to reduce our compaction and just to give us more power to the ground that we weren’t getting with our John Deere machines. The Challenger,” which he says has also reduced fuel usage, has “provided more torque, more pulling power and greater efficiency.”

Ray and De Jager also recently switched to AGCO windrowers. “Over the course of two years,” says Ray, “we tried out just about every brand on the market, from New Holland to John Deere to MacDon to Case, and we pretty much fell in love with the AGCO machines.”

In the course of making the change—to two Challenger and two Massey Ferguson® WR9760 self-propelled windrowers—Ray was also able to actually reduce the number of windrowers from six, while making the seven to eight cuttings of alfalfa per year on the same acreage in less time and using less fuel. What’s more, he says, the quality of the cutting is “on par, if not better, with the AGCO rotary heads.”

As for his AGCO dealership, “We’ve been working with Holt of California for about four years now, and their service has been excellent. Their expertise and knowledge of the machines has enabled us to run them to their maximum performance. And we’ve just had a great working relationship with them. They’ve provided excellent customer support.”

For more, see http://www.myfarmlife.com/features/going-underground-irrigation-breakthroughs-in-drought-stricken-california/.

Farm Marketing: Reaching A Hungry Public

East Fork Farm in Madison County, N.C., earns 90% of its revenues from farmers markets. To stand out from other vendors, farmers Stephen and Dawn Robertson hand out samples and provide recipe cards.

“When I give someone a sample and a recipe card, I sell double,” says Dawn. “It takes the burden off of them to figure out how to use our products.”

Dawn Robertson looks after chickens.

Dawn Robertson looks after chickens.

Until 2013, the couple sold their eggs, chicken and lamb at four markets per week. Sales were great, but the commitment left the couple burned out and struggling to keep up with farm chores. To maximize revenues and minimize their off-farm commitments, the Robertsons dropped down to one weekend market and built a farm store.

Dawn turned to social media to build buzz about the farm, sharing photos and updates on Facebook and Instagram, and started sending a monthly newsletter with information about product availability.“People want to know what’s happening on the farm,” she says. “It’s a new way for us to market our proteins.”

Digital media is an important tool in connecting with customers, as are other technologies, such as electronic payment options and SNAP/WIC benefits. Programs like Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) and mobile farmers markets have also been embraced by producers.

But such new methods of reaching customers are not for everyone. Some farmers, such as Ron Thompson of Rockwood, Ontario, stick to the basics.

Thompson doesn’t have a web site or social media presence to market the squash, green beans, Brussels sprouts, beets, Swiss chard and other vegetables he grows on his 9-acre farm in Rockwood, Ontario. He doesn’t send newsletters with updates about what he’s bringing to market.

Thompson is still marketing his vegetables the same way he did in the 1970s. “I go to the farmers market on Saturday mornings,” he explains.

Thompson has been loading his pickup truck with fresh produce and driving 45 minutes to the Brampton Farmers Market for almost four decades. In the early years, he harvested less produce and sold to fewer customers. Now, he’s racing to keep up with demand at the bustling market. “I haven’t changed what I’m doing, but, all of a sudden, the market is packed and people can’t wait to get farm-fresh vegetables,” says Thompson.

Regardless of the advent of new opportunities, Thompson believes that effective farm marketing comes down to one thing: “You have to raise a good product,” he says. “Without a good product, you might sell to a customer once, but you’ll never sell to them again.”

For more on how farmers are marketing their wares, see http://www.myfarmlife.com/features/farm-marketing-reaching-a-hungry-public/.

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