These four crops are generating additional revenue for farmers. AGCO brands are helping make that happen.
What’s not to love about switchgrass? The perennial develops a strong root system that holds highly erodible land in place. Plus, those farmers who’ve already planted switchgrass know about its long-lasting stands—at least 10 years—and that it makes great wildlife habitat. Now there is better news: more biofuel markets in the future.
Since ample supplies of stover are a given, using corn stover for biofuel seems like the perfect plan. For 2013, corn acres in the U.S. were estimated at 97 million and Canadian acres at 3.6 million, with 2.5 million of those in Ontario. There isn’t much of a learning curve either. If you can grow corn, you automatically know how to grow stover.
Miscanthus, a perennial, is another up-and-comer for the biomass market. However, says Iowa State University Professor Emily Heaton, “I spend a lot of time managing grower expectations about the crop. If you want to plant a half-acre or an acre to play with, that’s fine. But let’s [watch what happens] with the corn stover market first.”
Sweet sorghum is tailor made for biofuel production. “It is easier to make ethanol out of it than [with] corn,” says University of Missouri extension agronomist Gene Stevens. “It is already in sugar form. Just add yeast to start the fermentation.” And as an annual, producers do not have to make a long-term commitment.
Massey Ferguson, a worldwide brand of AGCO (NYSE: AGCO), has celebrated the launch of an ambitious mission to drive a tractor to the Geographical South Pole, the fulfillment of a dream for a Dutch theatre maker that also aims to inspire others to dare to dream.
Antarctica2 follows in the footsteps of Sir Edmund Hillary, who drove a specially adapted Ferguson TE20 to the South Pole in 1958.
But the 2014 mission, which departs Cape Town on 15th September for the 2350km journey, has enlisted the help of leading industry partners to take a wheeled tractor to Antarctica for the first time.
The MF 5610, modified by the engineering team at AGCO’s Beauvais tractor plant, will be driven by Manon Ossevoort, better known as Tractor Girl, who has already driven a tractor from her childhood home in the Netherlands to South Africa.
“It was my dream to drive a tractor to the end of the world, and I was inspired by Sir Edmund Hillary’s mission,” Manon explains, “I found that along the way my journey inspired other people to talk about their own dreams, so I set about collecting these dreams with the goal of taking them to the South Pole with me.”
When her original mission – which was undertaken largely with only local support –ended with Manon unable to make the final leg to Antarctica, she remained convinced that she had to finish it. She approached Massey Ferguson via its distributor in Holland, Mechatrac, and was assured of the company’s commitment to help her follow her dreams.
Support for Antarctica2 will be provided by partners including Massey Ferguson, Trelleborg, Castrol, AGCO Finance, AGCO Parts and Fuse Technologies. There are still opportunities for additional partners to join this exciting project, which will reach a global audience.
Richard Markwell, Vice President and Managing Director of Massey Ferguson EAME,who handed over the keys to the MF 5600 to Manon in a special ceremony at Beauvais, said: “I congratulate our Engineering Project Manager Olivier Hembert and his team, who worked in their spare time, along with AGCO Power in Finland, to adapt the tractor for conditions that are probably the toughest in the world.”
“As John F Kennedy said about the mission to the moon in 1962 – ‘We choose to do these things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.’ This is Massey Ferguson, wanting to take on a challenge and work in the spirit to achieve not only easy things, but challenging things. On behalf of AGCO and the full team of sponsors, I wish Manon and her straightforward, dependable MF 5610 a safe and exciting journey to the South Pole.”
Expedition specialists Arctic Trucks will provide guidance and safety support with the help of two Toyota four- and six-wheel drive pick-up trucks, and has worked closely with Trelleborg and Massey Ferguson to develop tyre technology for the mission.
Gudmundur Gudjonsson, Arctic Trucks Project Manager for Antarctica explains: “Tyres are more efficient than tracks in this kind of expedition, being capable of higher forward speeds and using less fuel. They also provide suspension, which is beneficial to the environment as well as the vehicle and the driver.”
Under Arctic Trucks guidance, MF 5600 tractors have undergone extensive cold weather testing, while the expedition team has received polar training, including guidance from seasoned polar explorers Matty McNair and her daughter Sarah McNair-Landry who will be key team members for Antarctica2.
A technical support specialist and former Massey Ferguson photographic specialist Simon Foster complete the team.
The expedition will call on not only the straightforward and dependable engineering of the MF 5610 to endure temperatures down to minus 40deg centigrade, altitude of 3400m and deep, soft snow, but also AGCO’s impressive parts and technical capability.
Up to 1000kg of parts will be carried on the mission, a twice daily maintenance regime adhered to, and the Agcommand™ telematics system will relay performance information back to a 24 hour support team in Beauvais.
The latest broadcast and social media technology will also be employed in stark contrast to when Sir Edmund Hillary’s arrival at the South Pole was marked by at telegram of thanks to Harry Ferguson. Live streaming and regular updates via a dedicated website will keep the rest of the world in touch with the mission’s progress.When the MF 5610, with its Tractor Girl and her cargo of dreams on board, arrives at the South Pole around 7th December, it will be a testimony to the work of all the partners in the Antarctica2 project and their tireless commitment to its message – #BelieveInIt
The lights come up in the shop next to two of Bartlett Farms’ potato storage facilities on Spud Road, in the tiny town of Littleton. Row after row of antique tractors stand ready for their stories to be told. Bob Bartlett knows them all. There’s the Massey Harris 333, “the first one I bought,” he says. “That 44-6, the man I bought it from came to look over our place to make sure it was gonna have a good home. And when my wife, Jane, and I went to get it, his wife was out taking pictures with tears running down her cheeks ‘cause it was leaving the yard.”
It’s a large Massey collection of more than 40 pieces, most of them fully restored. Meanwhile, some 14 Massey Ferguson tractors make up the working fleet at Bartlett Farms. Among them is a Massey Ferguson 1100, bought new in 1969, that has 8,000 hours on it and “has never had a wrench in the motor,” says Bob. “That just tells you something about the longevity of these things.”
The potato harvester runs on an MF2745, “my pride and joy,” says Bob. Why? “Well, these tractors, they’re just like individuals,” he says. “That tractor just suits me. I just ‘sit good’ in it.”
When grandson John does need to work on a tractor, they use Genuine AGCO Parts and work with their dealership, Crown Equipment, in Caribou, Maine. “We just have a Massey heritage,” says John’s father, David.
Bob agrees, but it’s a little more personal for him. “I don’t hunt. I don’t fish. I don’t smoke. I don’t drink. So my tractors … it’s the only hobby I got.”
As we gear up for the 2014 Farm Progress Show, we’re excited to share the full schedule of our educational series, a new addition to the AGCO lineup. The Fuse Technologies Pavilion, located on lot #1002, will be hosting a number of presentations covering a range of issues concerning technology, productivity and profitability. Presentations include:
- Who’s Watching Your Data? Corporations are interested in your agronomic data. What’s your position? We’ll help you decide by offering perspectives on the issue of data privacy. Wednesday, 10:00 a.m.
- There’s a Problem with Your Shoe! The secret to minimizing grain loss and maintaining a clean sample in higher- yielding, higher-moisture corn is in managing your combine’s shoe load. In this session, AGCO’s Kevin Bien explains why and offers solutions. Tuesday, 11:00 a.m. and Wednesday, 3:00 p.m.
- Advancement of Rural Cell Internet Coverage. Expanded cell coverage will enable new technologies on the farm. How can you profit? Tuesday, 2:00 p.m.
- Getting the Most out of Tillage. An informative presentation on the history of tillage, alternative tillage methods and how to optimize your tool’s performance. Tuesday, 3:00 p.m. Wednesday, 11:00 a.m.
- Reduce Compaction. Increase Yield. Soil compaction has been proven to reduce yield by as much as 10 to 15%. In this session, we’ll talk about technologies that can help reduce compaction, including tracks systems, large flotation tires and automatic tire inflation. Tuesday, 10:00 a.m.
- It’s All About the Kitchen! Managing job stress is an important aspect of farmer health and productivity. Here we make the business case for operator comfort and discuss recent equipment advancements, including cab and front axle suspension, ballasting techniques and guidance systems. Wednesday, 2:00 p.m.
- Turning Trash into Treasure. There are dollars to be made with the trash your combine leaves behind. In this session, we’ll discuss the emerging biomass market – what it is, how you can profit and how to get started. Tuesday, 1:00 p.m.
- Right Place. Right Product. Right Time. Accurate product placement is critical to the successful growth of a crop. This session will not only discuss the various product delivery options available but a number of other application- specific technologies that help deliver higher yields. Wednesday 1:00 p.m.
Please make sure to come early as seating is limited.
Other important information:
2014 Farm Progress Show: August 26 – 28, 2014; Boone, Iowa
AGCO: Lot #1002
By: Robert C. Brown, Director, and Robert Mills, Communications Specialist, Bioeconomy Institute, Iowa State University
The use of fermentation to produce ethanol from corn and other biomass is well known in the agricultural world. There are, however, other technologies that can convert biomass into fuels and chemicals. Foremost among these are thermochemical processes, which use heat and catalysis to break down biomass to intermediates that can be upgraded to transportation fuels.
One advantage of thermochemical processing is that the end result can be “drop-in fuels,” those that are fully compatible with the existing fuel infrastructure. While not perfect, these drop-in fuels are good enough to run in today’s engines without modification.
Another advantage to thermochemical processing is that most systems can work with a variety of biomass feedstocks. Often the feedstock is lignocellulosic biomass, such as corn stover, switchgrass, miscanthus, wood, etc. But thermochemical processing can also use lipid-rich biomass such as distillers dried grains and algae as well as mixed wastes from commercial and municipal sources.
There are two basic types of thermochemical processing, indirect and direct liquefaction. Indirect liquefaction includes gasification, where the solid biomass is heated to create synthesis gas, or syngas, that is subsequently upgraded to liquid fuels. Various catalysts are then used to convert the gas into alcohols or hydrocarbons. The advantages of gasification is that the process produces a uniform product and it is commercially proven. Gasification, however, requires technologies to clean the gases, which are still under development, and the capital costs can be high.
Direct liquefaction uses heat and pressure to convert the biomass into liquids which can then be further upgraded into finished products. Direct liquefaction includes pyrolysis and solvent liquefaction. In the case of pyrolysis, biomass is heated in the absence of oxygen. The process yields bio-oil, syngas, and a solid product known as biochar. The bio-oil can be upgraded to drop-in fuels. Pyrolysis can be performed at relatively small scales, allowing it to take place close to the source of biomass rather than moving biomass to one large, centralized processing facility. One of the major problems with pyrolysis is that the bio-oil is unstable, complicating its conversion into fuels.
At Iowa State University, we have invented a process to condense the pyrolysis gases in fractions, resulting in better, more stable products. The economics of fast pyrolysis are promising. In addition to producing fuels and chemicals from the bio-oil, the biochar may also have economic value. Consisting mostly of carbon, biochar can be used a soil amendment, helping retain moisture and nutrients. There is also research underway to use biochar as a filter medium for purifying water.
Solvent liquefaction, or solvolysis, is similar to pyrolysis except that it is performed in a solvent at elevated pressure. Though the fundamental chemistry of solvolysis is not well understood, the technology has promising economics. The process can upgrade bio-oil in a way similar to oil refining, and it can create sugars which can be further upgraded without expensive enzymes.
In addition to extensive research into thermochemical technologies, there are also many efforts underway to commercialize these technologies. Like all start-ups, these efforts have met with various degrees of success. There are, however, several pilot-scale systems being tested and commercial plants being built.
Bioenergy is a complex topic. There are many pathways from raw material to finished product. What’s more, bioenergy technology must be viewed in context of larger energy issues and policies. You can learn more in a book written for the general public, “Why are We Producing Biofuels,” by Robert C. Brown and Tristan R. Brown. The book is available on Amazon. You can read the first chapter for free online at: http://www.brownia.com/content/whyareweproducingbiofuels_excerpt.pdf.