Dave and Kim Everett rely on a Massey Ferguson® GC1705, a 22-HP sub-compact tractor suitable for a variety of jobs. Seven months of the year it mainly helps mow 4 acres worth of grass on Big Sandy Mush Farm. “With a belly mower, the 1705 is just what we need to make short work of the lawn around the farmhouse and the grass on uneven terrain between our roads and fencelines,” Dave says. The tractor has also been used to skid steel feed troughs around their livestock pastures. “Ours has industrial tires, which provide great traction without damaging the ground,” he adds.
“It has the pulling power to handle the gamut of small tractor chores, including those requiring PTO attachments. “The diesel-fueled 1705, in terms of build quality and control setup, is entirely compatible with the bigger boys,” says Dave.
He also uses a 6-year-old MF1540 with 4WD. “The bucket attachment has moved many tons of dirt and manure and, literally, a couple of million pounds of field rock—all without problems,” Dave says. “The 1540 is our go-to tractor for use on sloped terrain,” and, he continues, the shuttle shift provides instant availability of proper speed ranges for the conditions on his farm.
Dave is just as effusive about his dealer, Western Carolina Lawn & Tractor in Sylva. “This business understands that great products need commensurately fine dealer representation in order to earn customer loyalty,” he says. “They couldn’t be easier or better people with whom to do business.”
In the bucolic Sandy Mush area, such preservation efforts are not as easy as they may sound. The region—actually two valleys with several coves in each—is within 15 miles of the bustling mountain tourist mecca of Asheville, N.C. Nearby mountains and valleys are prime targets for vacation and second home developments consisting of 3,500-square-foot “cabins.” Kim and Dave themselves first used the area as a getaway when living near Washington, D.C.
Simply put, the value of the land in the area is worth a lot more for development than it is for farming or open space.
Despite that, owners of nearly 25% of the valley’s land (approximately 7,000 acres) have placed their property in conservation easements.
“To me this is the embodiment of what we’re trying to do with our land,” Dave says, nodding toward the fields, woods and streams spread out below, much of which he and his wife have helped restore and preserve. “We said that we want this farm to be recognizable to folks who lived here 100 years before us.”
See more about their story at http://www.myfarmlife.com/features/preserving-a-farms-beauty-in-north-carolinas-big-sandy-mush/, and find out more about how conservation easements work at http://www.myfarmlife.com/asides/how-a-conservation-easement-works/.
This week’s coverage of the Crop Tour 2016 highlights some of the precision farming technologies that help farmers make their operations more efficient – from Fairmont, MN, to Rostov-on-Don, Russia. The Fuse open approach is making operational gains possible by leveraging partnerships to provide the most productive, accurate seeding equipment in the world.
AGCO’s Darren Goebel, Director – Global Commercial Crop Care, discusses how applying precision farming to planting is a worthwhile investment, by improving yields through more precise singulation. He also discusses how precision farming technologies can offset soil quality differences including soil texture, organic matter, and topography differences.
To learn more about Fuse, AGCO’s approach to precision farming technologies and services, visit www.AGCOcorp.com/Fuse.
By Darren Goebel
Greetings from Crop Tour 2016! Crop Tour is an initiative at AGCO in which we are gathering information throughout the growing season and demonstrating how different variables that farmers face every year can impact overall yield potential. As an agronomist I love the opportunity to get out to walk fields, observe crop progress, and talk to farmers. This week I was in North Dakota, Minnesota, and South Dakota. Two weeks ago I was in Russia. What is interesting about these two seemingly divergent locations is how similar farmers from Fairmont, MN, to Rostov-on-Don, Russia, are. Everywhere I go; farmers are looking for new techniques to increase production as efficiently as possible in order to improve their bottom line. AGCO is leading the precision revolution with Fuse® Technologies and the most productive, accurate seeding equipment in the world.
Following is my story of Crop Tour 2016 in photos:
Precision pays in Russia
Minnesota, the land of 10,000 lakes; 30,000 after a hard rain
Crops in Minnesota have had a tough time getting started due to cool, wet weather this spring. This week was no exception. The lake in the background of this picture is a result of over three inches of rain the night before. Pictured in the photo are Rick Sparks and John Menssen, both AGCO employees. Rick is an agronomist and product specialist for the region. John farms and is a Key Account Manager for Ziegler CAT. What I love about AGCO is the passion our employees have for agriculture. Here we were checking stands. This field was planted using prescriptions from Farmer’s Edge, in collaboration with Fuse Technologies for Crop Tour 2016.
Elevation map taken from “as applied” data collected from the GPS receiver, shown in FieldView. Agronomists use elevation data along with NDVI, yield data, and soil productivity information to make population decisions. Visualization above through Climate’s FieldView, a Fuse connected partner. Note the missing portion of the “as applied” map where the lake can be seen in the previous picture. Below you can see the variable rate prescription from Farmer’s Edge that was applied. Varying seeding rates increases yield on highly productive soils while not wasting seed on poorer soils. The red areas shown below were seeded at 20,000 plants per acre.
One of the most rewarding things about working in agriculture is the opportunity to interact with farmers around the world. They are working hard to sustainably produce crops so that future generations can continue to enjoy the lifestyle. It’s hard work but I have not met a farmer yet that would rather be doing anything else. More to come from Crop Tour 2016!
Darren Goebel is the Director Global Commercial Crop Care, for AGCO’s Global Product Management Group. Connect with Darren on Twitter @Agronomist_IN.
Jim Fontaine says he’s not interested in getting bigger as a business; he and his family have found an economic sweet spot in their dairy operation (see more about it here). But that doesn’t mean he and brother Steve aren’t growing their equipment inventory. In fact, their do-it-themselves approach to efficiency means the equipment needs to work harder, cost less to run and go easier on the operator.
That’s why they converted from another brand to a shop full of AGCO solutions, including equipment from Challenger,® Massey Ferguson,® Hesston,® Sunflower® and White Planters.™
“For the two bigger Challengers, we traded in two Case Magnums,” says Jim. “You feel like you got banged around in that [Case]. When you’re on the bunk and you’re shifting, you have to go through all those gears to shift, and it’s just a lot of jerking.”
Their Massey Ferguson and Challenger tractors share the CVT transmission, and with that, “the front-end suspension and the cab suspension, it’s just a good package because it’s all working together,” says Jim.
Adds Steve: “You get out of the tractor and you can stand up straight,” he laughs. “Nothing hurts on your body.”
The tractors work perfectly with their Sunflower 6630 tillage tool, yet another AGCO piece in their arsenal. “With another brand of tractor, when we would drop the implement in the ground, it would stall,” says Jim. Not so with the Challengers.
The experts at Java Farm Supply, the Fontaines’ dealership, also believed Jim and Steve would benefit from a larger hay baler; when the brothers were last looking for a baler, they decided on the Hesston 2170XD. “It makes a nice bale, it doesn’t fall apart, and it weighs 1,200 pounds versus the small ones that weigh 900. There are less bales to store and haul,” says Steve. And it’s better for bunk too. “You carry two bales out, and you have more hay on the bunk for the TMR mixer,” he says.
Jim and Steve don’t see themselves going back to “the other brand.” “The more you hop into the Challenger or the Massey Ferguson, the more comfortable you feel,” Jim says. “I told the dealership: ‘You should put one of these tractors on every farm.’”
Barry Schmitt puts a premium on having comfortable equipment. “During harvest, we spend long hours in the cab, and we move around a lot, going up and down the roads,” says the owner of Barr-Ag, one of Canada’s largest hay exporters. “I want my guys to be safe.”
They are, says Schmitt, because of good training and the use of his AGCO equipment. “We run Massey 4610 tractors on our rakes … and we use Fendt® to pull balers and air drills.” According to Schmitt, the tractors—including Fendt 700, 800 and 900 Series models—as as well as Hesston by Massey Ferguson® windrowers, handle well and are fuel efficient. “They are easy to learn to use and the visibility from the cab is very good.
“They are also exceptionally comfortable,” says Schmitt, “which helps minimize operator fatigue. You get done, a 12-hour day or a 15-hour day in one of these tractors, you can get out and you can still walk. I’m not all stiff from bouncing around. These [tractors] are very smooth, very comfortable. The noise level is small and they’re just very reliable and we enjoy running them.” [I added to get more in about comfort—we had to cut from print due to length.]
Schmitt uses nine large square balers, as well as seven 9870 and 9770 windrowers. “Like our tractors, they are reliable. We need that dependability with the hours we put on them each year. The balers give us a nice square bale, with consistent length … and on the [windrowers],” adds Schmitt, “the double conditioning rolls are second to none.
“These cutters do short crops, tall crops, heavy crops, light crops. You can cut it fast; you can cut it slow. Whatever we’re cutting, it lays well, dries good.”
Schmitt says his AGCO equipment is excellent, but the machines “are only as good as your dealer, and we have a fantastic dealer in Hanlon Ag Centre. They follow our work as we go across with our harvest. Mechanics are available basically 24/7 and they have good rapport with our guys for solving problems over the phone when we need them.
“What really makes it work,” continues Schmitt, “is the combination of good equipment, good dealership, good access to parts and people willing to go the extra mile. That’s what makes our harvest flow, and Hanlon is as big a part of our harvest as the weather and our neighbors.”