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The Role of Precision Farming in Meeting the 2050 Food Challenge

By Amanda Wemette

Several recent news stories have highlighted a sobering statistic that global food production must increase 50-70 percent by the year 2050 to feed a projected population of 9 billion people[1]. From tech firms and tech investment firms, to governments and a recent book entitled The End of Plenty, the public is beginning to rally behind an issue long familiar to those in the agriculture industry – we must do more with the land we have.

We must do more with the land we have. Source: 2013 Iron Solutions, Inc.

We must do more with the land we have. Source: 2013 Iron Solutions, Inc.

 

Around this subject, popular topics often include:

  • The usage of fertilizers
    and pesticides
  • Water usage
    and conservation
  • GMOs
  • Organics
  • Big Data
  • And more

 

Yet precision farming technology is often conspicuously absent in these discussions about how technology will help the planet become more productive. Those in the food and fiber production industries know technology plays a critical role in the future of agriculture. Diamond V®, an all-natural animal food manufacturer, cites “…food production must be the world’s new high-tech industry. An estimated 70 percent of the future increases in food production capacity need to come from new and improved agricultural technologies.[2]” A recent study by the Boston Consulting Group also confirms the importance of precision farming for the future of agriculture.

Precision farming technology helps growers maximize productivity and increase uptime. It’s about increasing yields and reducing inputs through careful monitoring and optimization. Companies like AGCO have identified precision agriculture products and services as critical components for business success, and—more importantly—for successfully feeding the world. AGCO reaffirmed this mission with the launch of Fuse® Technologies in 2013.

Trends that will shape crop farming through 2030

Trends that will shape crop farming through 2030 (Click to view larger)

Farm technology today is addressing pressing concerns such as labor shortages and environmental factors.  For example, automatic guidance helps growers reduce overlaps and skips in the field, helps reduce operator fatigue and enables longer working hours. Telemetry and fleet monitoring help farmers optimize their machines and their operation as a whole. Downtime is reduced through logistics coordination and by carefully monitoring machine health. Growers can work smarter, not harder to grow more with what they have.

Guidance and telemetry are just two among many solutions available to farmers today that help them to be more productive. There are numerous solutions currently available, and future capabilities are limitless, especially as Silicon Valley and tech investment firms take notice. AGCO is thinking beyond more traditional opportunities too. The company is a proud partner in the Farm2050 initiative, which is dedicated to advancing the future of food through supporting AgTech entrepreneurs and startups. AGCO is also working to increase agricultural production in previously under-utilized lands, leading with the Future Farm opening in Africa, which includes precision farming offerings.

Advancing precision farming technology not only leads to increased efficiencies – it also leads to increased sustainability by reducing waste. For example, farmers apply fertilizers and pesticides in a purposeful manner based on crop need, instead of uniformly spraying an entire field.

There is no “silver bullet” to solve our agricultural challenges. Precision farming solutions are but one component of a very complex system, and should be included in the broader discussion as the public, the media and the technology sector take an interest in the challenge to feed our world.

 

Amanda Wemette is a digital marketing specialist for AGCO’s Advanced Technology Solutions group, focusing on delivering the Fuse Technologies message to customers, dealers, employees and investors. Connect with Amanda on Twitter @AmandaWemette.

 

[1]  According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization

[2]  http://www.diamondv.com/about/who-we-are/

Tough guy Alex muscles up to retain Italy’s Strongman title

Massey Ferguson-supported heavyweight Alex Curletto clinched first place in the semi-finals of Italy’s Strongest Man competition in Pisa. This puts him in a front-running position as the Championship moves onto the finals in Florence in September.

All power to Alex Curletto who came top in the semi-finals of Italy’s Strongest Man Championship.

All power to Alex Curletto who came top in the semi-finals of Italy’s Strongest Man Championship. Photo courtesy of Salvatore Gioia.

Alex works for Massey Ferguson’s parent company, AGCO as an Accounts Payable Analyst based at the Company’s UK operations at Abbey Park, Stoneleigh in Warwickshire.

“It was a double victory for me personally as also I beat the Spanish champion who was the clear favourite to win the Pisa contest,” says Alex who trains for two hours a day, five days a week. “I won Italy’s Strongest Man title last year and I’m fully-focused on retaining my title. I’d like to thank Massey Ferguson for its continued support.”

“My training regime includes weight lifting and cardiovascular work. Right now, I’m consuming 5000-8000 calories daily to maintain my strength and size, and currently weigh in at around 160kg (26 stone). After the Italy Finals in September, I’ll be setting my sights on the World’s Strongest Man Championship 2016.”

Good Luck to Alex for his next test of raw power in Florence!

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Take care to apply the right amount of fertiliser when placing with seed

There are a number of factors to consider when placing fertiliser with seed according to Dr. Mike Stewart from the International Plant Nutrition Institute in Norcross, Georgia, USA.

Placing fertiliser in-furrow with the seed during planting is a common practice in small grain production and to some extent in row-crop production. Placing fertiliser with the seed can be an effective and beneficial management practice, but over- application and mismanagement can result in seedling damage, and ultimate stand and yield loss. The type of crop, fertiliser source, row spacing, and soil environment all affect how much fertiliser can be safely applied with seed.

Type of crop: Some crops are more susceptible to injury from in-furrow fertilisation than others. Oil seed crops are particularly sensitive; therefore most guidelines allow no fertiliser placed with the seed of these crops. The general order of sensitivity (most to least) among major crops grown on the Great Plains in the United States is soybeans > sorghum > corn > small grains.

Type of fertiliser: Fertilisers are salts, and these salts can affect the ability of the seedling to absorb water… too much fertiliser (salt) and seedling desiccation or “burn” can occur. Some fertiliser materials have a higher salt index or burn potential than others. Salt index values are usually included in basic agronomic texts, or are available from fertiliser dealers or extension resources such as government bodies or universities. As a general rule, most common nitrogen (N) and potassium (K) fertilisers have higher salt indexes than phosphorus (P) fertilisers; therefore, a common predictor for the potential for salt damage is the sum of N+K2O per acre (0.4 ha) applied with the seed. For example, most guidelines for corn (maize) in 30 inch (76.2 cm) rows will allow for no more than 10 lb (4.5kg)/A of N+K2O in medium to fine textured soils — assuming no urea-containing products are used.

Ammonia formation potential of fertiliser: Fertilisers that have the potential to release free ammonia can cause ammonia toxicity to germinating seeds or young emerging seedlings. Thus, extra caution must be used with in-furrow placement of urea-containing fertilisers. In some cases urea-ammonium nitrate (UAN) or urea can be applied successfully in-furrow in small grain production, but this requires careful consideration of several factors including those discussed below.

Row spacing: For a specific set of circumstances (i.e. crop, soil conditions, etc.) the safe rate of in-furrow fertiliser increases as row spacing narrows or decreases. A narrowing row space has the effect of diluting fertiliser over more linear feet (metres) of row.

Soil type and environment: Soil conditions that tend to concentrate salts, or stress the germinating seed, increase the potential for damage. So, the safe limit for in-furrow fertilisation is reduced with sandier soil texture and in drier soil conditions. Also, environmental conditions that induce stress and/or slow germination (e.g. cold temperature) can prolong fertiliser-seed contact and thus increase the likelihood of damage.

Seed bed utilisation: The more scatter there is between seed and fertiliser in the seed band or row, the more fertiliser can be safely applied. The type of planting equipment and seed opener influences the intimacy of seed-fertiliser contact. The concept of “seed bed utilisation” (SBU) has been used to address this factor. SBU is simply the seed row width divided by the row width (i.e., proportion of row width occupied by seed row). The wider the seed row for a specific row width the greater the SBU. As SBU increases so does the safe rate of in-furrow fertilisation.

* Reprinted from the International Plant Nutrition Institute, Plant Nutrition Today Series by Dr Mike Stewart. http://www.ipni.net/pnt

Danish cyclists all set for trip to Beauvais tractor plant

Sixty cyclists from Denmark are due to set off on the exciting ‘MF Tour de Beauvais 2015’ this Saturday 27 June.

MF_Danish_bike_tour_2249

In a trip scheduled to last seven days, the intrepid riders will be pedalling 1226 km from Brørup in Southern Denmark to the AGCO manufacturing facility in Beauvais France, centre of Massey Ferguson tractor production in Europe.

From Denmark, the tour will pass through the Netherlands and Belgium before crossing the border into France at Hestrud. We’ll keep you up to date with their progress and you can also follow their journey on the Massey Ferguson Global Facebook page.

Antarctica2 South Pole MF Tractor-trek leader awarded a World Record

Massey Ferguson reports that the Antarctica2 expedition to the South Pole by MF 5610 tractor spearheaded by Manon Ossevoort has been officially recognised by Guinness World Records.

Manon Ossevoort, AKA Tractor Girl, is proud to receive her Guinness Book of World Records Certificate confirming Antarctica2 as the first expedition to the South Pole in a wheeled tractor

Manon Ossevoort, AKA Tractor Girl, is proud to receive her Guinness Book of World Records Certificate confirming Antarctica2 as the first expedition to the South Pole in a wheeled tractor

A certificate has been awarded to Lead Driver, Manon (aka ‘Tractor Girl’), confirming Antarctica2 as the first expedition to the South Pole in a wheel tractor.  The certificate officially details that she “left Novo Runway in Antarctica on 22 November 2014 driving a Massey Ferguson 5610 farm tractor to complete a 4,638 km round trip to the South Pole that lasted 27 days, 19 hr 25 min.”

“We are thrilled that the amazing Antarctica2 adventure has been recognised as a world-first,” says Campbell Scott, Massey Ferguson Director Marketing Services. “We are all so proud that our MF 5610 tractor was chosen to make the trip and that it excelled in every way to ensure that Manon and her team safely reached their destination. It was an awe-inspiring mission that is now firmly part of Massey Ferguson’s story of achievement.”

The expedition was a tough ride for the MF 5610 tractor and Antarctica2 team who faced bitter cold, high altitude, solid ice, snowdrifts and the most extreme, remote terrain. Their daily adventures and emotional arrival at the Pole were followed by millions worldwide on social and broadcast media.

For customers keen to share in the adventure, Massey Ferguson has recently launched an MF 5610 Antarctica2 Special Edition tractor to celebrate the South Pole trek. With the emphasis on high performance, comfort, safety and control, the Special Edition machine is equipped with a package of unique features and exclusive design attributes which reflect the many challenges of the battle across the ice. The features package includes a superdeluxe air-suspended seat, mechanical cab suspension, six LED lights, 540/540E/1000 rpm PTO and Massey Ferguson’s high-spec off-road audio entertainment system.

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