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Get to Grips with Soil Compaction

How do you protect your soils from yield-sapping hardpan?

“Soil compaction is one of the most common problems farmers face today – it severely limits yields and impacts margins,” says Cameron McKenzie, Seeding & Tillage Product Marketing Manager for the farm equipment brand, Challenger. “However,  key steps can be taken to deal with it through the use of proper soil management.”

CompactionIMG_0383[1]

“As the name implies, compaction occurs when soil particles are compacted together, restricting the amount of space for the air and water needed for optimum plant growth. Compaction can occur naturally or be caused by farming practices. Most often, compaction is created by today’s modern heavy equipment traffic. The key to controlling it is to understand your farm’s soils, ascertain the root cause of compaction and learn how to reduce its costly effects.”

“Compaction tends to build up over time and gets worse every time you work your fields -  most particularly in wet conditions,” he says. “If you haven’t deep-ripped your fields for example, compaction from a wet spring three years ago can dramatically lower yields further down the line.”

Certain soils compact more easily than others. Soils made up of particles of about the same size compact less than soils with particles of varied sizes. Wet soils compact more easily than dry, while soils high in organic matter have a better structure and are more likely to resist compaction.

Some important things to remember:

  • Most compaction is caused by equipment traffic
  • Up to 80% of compaction in the field occurs on the first pass  of the season
  • Surface compaction is caused by high ground pressure created by reduced contact area
  • Deep compaction is caused by high axle loads
  • Slip compaction is caused by low surface contact areas and smearing of the topsoil
  • Pinch-row compaction is caused by dual or triple wheels as ground pressure from the tyres shifts from the centre of the tyre to the outside

To read the full article, please click here

Massey Ferguson Helps Showcase Innovations From a Small Island

Massey Ferguson helped provide a taste of British farming and food production to more than 250 leading journalists attending the International Federation of Agricultural Journalist’s Congress in North East Scotland.

‘Innovations from a Small Island’, the congress provided a packed programme of seminars, visits and events showcasing the UK’s world-leading farming, food and drink producers. As a principal sponsor of the event, Massey Ferguson ensured these influential writers and photographers from around the world not only learned about the UK advanced food and farming industry, but passed it on to their global farming audience.

DSC2279_ifajvisit_harvesting_mikemclarensfarmMassey Ferguson sponsored the ‘Market Makers’ farm tours that demonstrated how its equipment is being employed by producers of diverse range of crops and livestock north-east Scotland. These farms are renowned for the highest quality potatoes, fruit, berries and vegetables as well as cereals and beef and lamb.

“We are honoured to help showcase the work of some of not just Scotland’s, but Europe’s leading farmers,” says Campbell Scott, Massey Ferguson’s Director, Sales Engineering and MF Brand Development. “It was a pleasure to see how these leading journalists were eager to see these progressive, professional businesses and learn more about their knowledge of agriculture and see examples of the finest crop and animal husbandry.”

The European Commission is Set to See a New President & New Commissioners – Q & A With CEJA

In this month’s regular column from CEJA (European Council of Young Farmers), President, Matteo Bartolini discusses the prospects under the new regime.

Jean-Claude Juncker

Jean-Claude Juncker

MF: Can you give us a brief description of the role of the European Commission?

MB: This is the EU’s executive body and stands for the interests of Europe as a whole. It is led by one President and 27 Commissioners (one from each of the 28 EU member states), known as the ‘College of Commissioners’ which meets once a week. A new team of Commissioners is appointed every five years, with the next one due to start their term on 1 November 2014. The President-Elect Jean-Claude Juncker has already been nominated by the Council, elected by the European Parliament and has, in turn, chosen all 27 nominees from candidates put forward by their member states and assigned them a policy area. This list must now be approved by the European Parliament.

MF: What is Jean-Claude Juncker’s background?

MB: Mr Juncker is an experienced politician with 17 years as Luxembourg’s Prime Minister under his belt as well as institutional experience in terms of his background as President of the Eurogroup. He is said to be an idealist and European federalist, but also a deal-broker with a knack for achieving consensus. The President of the Commission is arguably the most influential position of all institutional jobs, considering that the European Commission has the sole right of initiation of all EU law. However, there is a close second in the form of the President of the Council. This is a leader who sets the agenda for the work of the European Council and brokers consensus between member states. A few weeks ago, Donald Tusk, Poland’s Prime Minister, was elected by the Council to be the head of the Euro Summit as well as Council President.

For the full article, please click here
If you would like to get in touch with Mr. Bartolini or CEJA, email allusers@ceja.eu.

AGCO Joins National Technician Accreditation Scheme

AGCO is pleased to announce that technicians employed by dealerships handling one or more of its four principal machinery brands within the United Kingdom and Ireland will be able to register on a nationally-recognised technician accreditation scheme developed and backed by the AEA and IAgrE, with support from BAGMA.

AGCO Training Centre

AGCO Training Centre

Known as the Landbased Technician Accreditation scheme (LTA), the programme has become available to all AGCO dealer technicians following independent assessment and accreditation of the training and facilities provided by AGCO to technicians supporting its Challenger, Fendt, Massey Ferguson and Valtra farm machinery brands.

The move to have AGCO’s training programmes recognised at a national level, accredited to the same standards of other leading farm machinery manufacturers and suppliers, was spearheaded by Freddie Pullan, Manager, Technical Training UK and Ireland for AGCO Ltd.

“The LTA Scheme provides a clear and accepted means of benchmarking, monitoring and assessing the competence of technicians employed nationwide within the landbased sector,” commented Mr Pullan. “AGCO was keen to ensure that the training it provides to technicians employed by Challenger, Fendt, Massey Ferguson and Valtra dealers matched this standard, providing a clear and documented career path for AGCO apprentices and technicians wishing to progress within the agricultural engineering industry.”

In consultation with scheme administrator, IAgrE, AGCO’s training programmes were scrutinised and fine-tuned to ensure that they satisfied the accreditation criteria laid down by the LTA scheme. Independent assessment was carried out on behalf of IAgrE by consultant, David Kershner, with accreditation centre approval being granted to AGCO, taking effect in September 2014.

Agricultural engineers employed by AGCO dealers are now able to follow a nationally-recognised four-tier progression from apprentice (LTA1) through to master technician (LTA4), passing through technician (LTA2) and advanced technician (LTA3) tiers as they progress.

Upward movement from one tier to the next involves satisfactory completion of a range of general and product-specific training courses across a number of different categories, as laid down by the LTA scheme. All technicians attaining LTA3 standard become eligible for IAgrE membership and Engineering Technician (Eng Tech) registration, on payment of an annual fee.

“AGCO is committed to supporting an initiative which provides encouragement and recognition for dealers and technicians who voluntarily commit to continual professional development.” commented Mr Pullan. “We believe that the Landbased Technician Accreditation scheme will bring sustained improved efficiencies within dealers’ service departments and further boost customers’ perceptions and confidence in technicians working on their tractors and other farm machines,”

“We are delighted that AGCO has joined the LTA scheme,” commented Alastair Taylor, chief executive of the Institution of Agricultural Engineers (IAgrE). “The move will give service engineering technicians employed across the AGCO network the opportunity to gain professional recognition nationwide for their important work.

“We very much look forward to welcoming AGCO’s first LTA3 technicians as members of IAgrE as well as handling their registration as Engineering Technicians with the Engineering Council. It is only right and proper that skilled technicians performing such important work are recognised as professionals. We believe that AGCO customers will reap the benefit of having their farm machinery serviced by technicians who are at the top of their game.”

Going It Alone

Larry Flom

Larry Flom

With 1,500 acres of corn and soybeans under a no-till and conventional-tillage program, Larry Flom, by many measures, is a typical Minnesota farmer. However, the fact that he farms all of it by himself, even during the busy planting and harvest seasons, puts Flom in an “above average” category that seems to be growing.

Flom wasn’t always alone in his endeavors, though. Up until about 13 years ago, he shared the family farm with his brother Steven. Steven was killed in a car accident in 2000, and shortly after that tragic event Larry trimmed the farm size by 500 acres and continued the work by himself.

Farms the size of Flom’s are disappearing at a rapid pace from the North American landscape. The number of midsize farms in the U.S. shrank by as much as 25% in some states from 1997 to 2007. The decrease in Canada was even larger, with mid-sized farms (those between 400 and 2,240 acres) dwindling by a whopping 38%.

The midsize farm frequently has the need but not the income to keep someone on the payroll.

“There have been times I could have used an extra person, and John Isaacson has helped on occasion,” says Flom about his friend and Massey Ferguson and AGCO dealer. “But most of the time, it’s just easier to do it myself than to find and train someone.”

“It’s not unusual for one person to farm 1,500 acres or for a father/son team to farm a few thousand acres,” says Kent Olson, professor of applied economics and Extension economist–farm management at Minnesota State University. “If they’re highly mechanized and have adopted labor-saving technology, such as Roundup Ready crops, it is possible in this day and age to handle that kind of acreage.”

For instance, Flom uses Roundup Ready corn and soybeans. Both are planted in 30-inch rows following preplant incorporation of a residual herbicide. Hence, the most that’s ever needed is a post application of Roundup.

Flom also credits the technology and capacity available in today’s farm equipment. His new Class 7 combine not only has the capacity to handle a 35-foot draper header, but it has a grain bin capacity of 330 bushels and an unloading time of only 83 seconds, so he can spend more time harvesting.

Other time-saving machines include a 16-row Model 8516 White planter, 54-foot Sunflower® Model 5055 field cultivator, and MF8670 tractor, which offers a 32-mph transport speed. “The farm stretches out over a 20-mile area,” Flom notes. “So the road speed certainly helps me get more done.”

By alleviating pressure on the bottom line, the fuel efficiency of today’s equipment is a huge help to farmers like Flom. As he says about his MF8670, “I just love the fuel economy. Most of the AGCO brand tractors have been pretty good, but between the CVT [transmission] and the e3 SCR system, this one’s even better, especially for the size. It just idles along when I’m planting, so I’ve been able to go for days without having to worry about fueling it up.”

Added together, the number and scope of these advancements from Massey Ferguson and other AGCO brands help Flom maintain the farm, all the while saving time and money. “Like a lot of farmers, I probably have more equipment than I actually need,” he confesses. “But when it’s just me doing everything, I want to be ready to go when I need to go.”

Read the full story at http://www.myfarmlife.com/features/going-it-alone/.

How do you improve efficiency on your farm?

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