Members of the Duluth Chapter of AGCO’s Global Women’s Network (AGWN) recently visited the Heifer International Ranch in Perryville, Arkansas March 10-12, 2017 and participated in the annual Lambing Weekend. During the spring lambing season, women from across the country visit Heifer Ranch to watch a lamb take its first steps and reflect on the new beginnings that Heifer International brings to millions of families worldwide. Participants attended sessions on sustainable agriculture and livestock practices while performing daily farm chores, such as caring for the farm animals and gardens. These activities help participants understand and appreciate the lives of those helped by Heifer.
Susanne Lauda, AGCO’s Global Project Lead in Manufacturing Automation, initiated and led the 2015 North American AGWN community outreach program and the 2016 Duluth fund raiser to benefit Heifer International along with Megan Weiland, Global Supply Chain Sustainability Manager and former co-lead of Duluth AGWN, to benefit Heifer International. Through combined efforts, AGWN has raised almost $18,000 for Heifer International, which resulted in education opportunities for young women, as well as providing farming communities in need with a wide variety of livestock and equipment.
“AGCO’s vision is to help professional farmers feed the world which aligns with Heifer’s goal to end world hunger and poverty. We believe our affiliation with Heifer International will improve the lives of farmers in America and developing countries across the globe”, states Susanne.
AGCO Duluth participants in the Heifer Lambing Weekend include: Susanne Lauda, Nancy Ford, Jennifer Parillo, Corina Ardelean, Elisa Townsend, and Diane Solomon.
By Matt Rushing
“Technology leapfrogging” refers to the adoption of advanced or state-of-the-art technology in an application area where immediate prior technology has not been adopted. Discussions of Information and communication technologies (ICT) leapfrogging have largely focused on developing countries, which generally lag behind on technology adoption, and unlike the developed countries, are not inhibited by entrenched intermediate technology. New and advanced technology provides developing countries with the opportunity to accelerate economic development…In addition, the advancement of ICTs has reduced costs and imposed lesser demands on the skill of the users due to user-friendly features…1
Last month, AGCO held its sixth annual Africa Summit in Berlin, Germany, where I was honored to give a short presentation about how precision farming can help solve many of the challenges facing today’s growers.
What is especially exciting for Africa is that the new generation of growers has the opportunity to “leapfrog” farming practices of old and start with the best technology AGCO can offer. For example, they can skip manual planting and fertilizing practices and go straight to mechanical and automated rate and section control, in the same way many developing countries never fully developed a traditional telecommunications infrastructure, but skipped straight to mobile phones.
Although there are challenges such as climate volatility and agronomic know-how, the future is bright and opportunities are boundless to take advantage of the last several decades of agricultural technology leaps and apply them in a fresh environment. AGCO’s Fuse precision farming technologies can help growers reduce waste and maximize yields from the smallest subsistence farmers to the largest corporate farming operations.
To learn more about the Summit and view the event gallery, visit http://agco-africa-summit.com/.
To learn more about Fuse, visit http://www.agcotechnologies.com/about-fuse/.
Matt Rushing is the Vice President of AGCO’s Global Fuse Product Line. Learn more about AGCO’s precision farming technology solutions by visiting www.AGCOcorp.com/Fuse.
When people hear “Madagascar”, the first thing that comes to their minds is the famous cartoon. However, it is a country – the country where I come from. I cannot tell you how happy I was when I received the final e-mail announcing that I was elected as the AGCO Africa Ambassador 2017 – I jumped for joy! At the same time I was afraid because a great responsibility had been given to me to represent a country, a continent.
And then, things went so fast! I prepared my trip with the help of my team, my family and friends. Then I took off to Berlin via Mauritius, then Paris. Far away from our sunny days, it was the first time I have faced such a cold, I assure you. Once I arrived in Berlin, I was welcomed warmly with honor by the organizing team of the AGCO Africa Summit and I was accommodated in a sumptuous hotel – “comfort guaranteed”.
There I met Tosin Odunfa, the AGCO Africa Ambassador of 2013 – what a great speaker. He supported and helped me in my preparations for the Summit. Together we visited Berlin, its tourist places, its urban sides and its gastronomy. If you can spend one day in Berlin, do not forget to taste their bread and their beer. What a magnificent city!
The evening before the conference we had a Speakers’ dinner and I had the first opportunity to get to know and chat with the speakers and senior officials from AGCO.
On the morning of the 6th AGCO Africa Summit I was really nervous: I had the honor of being the host of the event. But I had the support of the whole AGCO team and two excellent moderators: Dr. Amrita Cheema from the famous TV channel DEUTSCHE WELLE (a really lively and talented woman), and Jeff Koinange from KENYA’S TELEVISION NETWORK (a voice so deep that when he speaks you’re obliged to turn around). To my surprise, I also met Jean Kaahwa, the winner of AGCO Africa Ambassador contest 2015, who also supported me and gave me courage.
I was amazed that so many people were mobilized to discuss the future of agriculture in Africa. The AGCO Africa Summit brought together so many personalities who are directly involved in agriculture (bankers, entrepreneurs, officials from public administration), as well as young people involved in activities and projects for the development of agriculture in Africa. This experience allowed me to establish professional relationships for our project LEGUMA. I was also able to meet His Excellency Christian Wulff, the Former Federal President of Germany and President of the Euro-Mediterranean Arab Association. The topics discussed during the Summit were exciting and unfortunately the day went by very quickly. By the end of the conference, I was surprised by Nuradin Osman, Vice President and General Manager Africa for AGCO Corporation, who called me on stage to thank me for my participation. The event ended with a dinner where everyone gathered around a good meal and we were able to appreciate talented African musicians who made us dance and vibrate until the end of the night.
The next day I prepared my suitcase to return blessed and safe to Madagascar. I would like to congratulate AGCO for this inspiring event and the possibility to get to know all these important people. I hope that we will go further together in promoting agriculture in Africa.
AGCO AFRICA AMBASSADOR 2017
By Glenn Farris
What do you do when your business plan calls for over 100,000 tons of densely packed corn stover … and you will process that quantity of corn stover every year–adding value to the local economy in a sustainable way?
It’s not like you can call your local supplier to fulfill the order. No one has that volume of square bales available.
That was the challenge Pellet Technology USA’s (PTUSA) founder Russ Zeeck and Business Strategy Manager Joe Luna faced when they were mapping out their idea for a new company, just a few short years ago.
Luna came to PTUSA from the West Coast. There, he worked in ag, finance and technology. He knew of AGCO and our industry expertise.
He heard that AGCO had been perfecting the process of collecting large quantities of stover and making them into high-density bales. That early work was mainly being done to in the energy market.
Zeeck then stepped in. A 30-year vet of the ag and energy industries, he drove and developed his idea to create pellets from corn stover for use as a green energy supplement or as a consistent animal feed product.
But the numbers that came out of the production equations were staggering. Could they actually secure this volume of stover? How would it be harvested? How would it be transported to the facility for processing? Most importantly, could it be delivered year-over-year?
There were so many moving parts that had to be coordinated. Who has the equipment, technology and expertise to make it happen?
“I knew of AGCO from previous projects,” said Luna. “So when we met, they came at this project with the attitude of a partner. They not only have a lot of equipment but they also have a lot of expertise. Remember, we’re still a young company. But to be successful, my thinking was to ‘stand on the shoulders of giants.’ AGCO has several hundred thousand tons of experience, and we wanted to build on that.”
So, the AGCO Biomass Solutions team went to work. Together with the PTUSA team, we mapped out the strategy to secure the plentiful ag residue. From providing the hundreds of pieces of equipment needed from Massey Ferguson tractors, to Hesston windrowers, Hesston high-density square balers, and finally, transportation, our strategy took shape.
Our goal is to help our customers – like PTUSA – create something. And that “something” is changing the way that we think about ag residue.
PTUSA is creating a business of collecting what used to be considered “trash” in the fields – that left over corn stalk material. In the past, farmers would collect it and use it as bedding for their livestock or to cover the dirt floors of their barns. Or, they would just till it back into the ground. We’ve now found this practice does more harm than good (more on that in a later column).
Once we map it all out, it’s quite literally a “symphony” of collecting the “trash” across a 50-mile radius of fields in Nebraska. But, there is just a 30-60 day window for the AGCO Biomass team to do it all – cut, windrow, bale, pick-up and deliver. And, we’re on track to do just that.
It means that the 100,000-plus tons of high-density bales that the PTUSA team was imagining – which will fill a 50-acre field, seven bales high – will be sitting next to their new facility in York, in just a few short weeks. And, it’s enough stover to last all year long. Sixty days of hard work for a year’s worth of supply? Not too shabby.
We’ve solved that problem. However, knowing that within a 50-mile radius, there is estimated to be 2.5MM tons of available ag residue, it begs yet another question on this biomass project. What impact would it have on the local economy, if we could harvest that 2.5MM tons?
We’ll look at that next time.
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.
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.
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.