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Rate and Section Control Technology Critical in the Next Wave of Precision Farming Evolution

By Matt Rushing

Rate and Section control technology is critical for farming in the future. Increasingly, it is becoming a requirement for farmers looking to reduce costs and improve yields. The adoption rate of this technology is high, but utilization is still low[1]. Why are farmers passing on the opportunity to lower their overall costs while also reducing negative impacts on the environment?  Education plays a major role, as does helping farmers understand what to do with the vast amount of data flowing from one stage of the crop cycle to the next.Rate and section control

Rate and section control is essential in controlling planting, seeding, pest management and nutrient application operations. Using Rate and Section control technologies such as Variable Rate Technology (VRT) and Automatic Section Control (ASC)  effectively allows the farmer to reduce overall costs by helping to avoid double applying inputs on areas the machine has already covered, as well as getting the right amount in the right place based on the field’s needs.

Variable Rate Technology (VRT):

  • Can help farmers optimize input costs by monitoring and varying different materials in the field to precisely plant seeds, apply fertilizer and chemicals based on prescriptions developed with the farmers trusted advisors
  • Variable rate systems also record how those inputs were applied. This information can then be used to create prescriptions for subsequent operations and track the effectiveness of different crop management strategies.

Automatic Section Control (ASC):

  • Avoid double coverage and eliminate wasted inputs due to overlap, field topography, soil conditions and obstacles
  • Makes managing headlands and pivot rows easier when planting and spraying
  • Allows spinner speed control for spreader application systems when applying fertilizer
  • Improves yield by preventing overcrowding point rows with plants when seeding

In planting, both of these technologies allow real-time monitoring of seeding or fertilizer delivery information and can help identify planter malfunctions by catching them early before they cause huge yield reductions. By seeing the results of singulation analysis, skips/multiples, spacing and quality of spacing, the farmer can make better decisions and implement corrective actions faster to improve overall efficiency and yield.

In spraying herbicides and pesticides, overlapping inputs increases chemical costs while risking potential harm to the environment. Effective use of these technologies also contributes to managing impacts to zones negatively affected by chemicals such as waterways and public areas. The reduced use of fuel and more economical application of fertilizer under precision agriculture indicate rate and section control technologies have the potential to play a huge role in reducing air and water pollution[2].

Rate and section control technology is one important piece of AGCO’s approach to precision agriculture, known as Fuse.  There are many opportunities for the industry and AGCO to teach and show the benefits of rate and section control technologies and encourage their adoption at a much faster rate through education and data management services.

To learn more about how AGCO is helping growers optimize operations and increase efficiency, visit


Matt Rushing is the Vice President for the Advanced Technology Solutions group (Fuse), responsible for AGCO’s Global ATS Product Line.




The Promise of Prairie Strips

Pressured by downstream property owners and their own desire to conserve their soil and keep their water drinkable, many farmers are looking for conservation programs that are both affordable and effective.

One such potential solution, under development for about eight years now, is called STRIPS—an acronym for Science-based Trials of Rowcrops Integrated with Prairie Strips. The program, researched at Iowa State University, involves sowing native prairie plants on carefully selected parcels of farmland. These “strips” of grasses, forbs (non-grass flowering plants) and other plants have been proven to slow, even stop, runoff of soil, as well as phosphorus and nitrogen.

Tim Youngquist, a fifth-generation Iowa farmer and farmer liaison on the STRIPS team, says, “Not a single farmer wants to see the soil wash away, or to see nitrogen and phosphorus in the rivers. No one wants that.”

Says Iowa State University Associate Professor Dr. Lisa Schulte Moore, one of the STRIPS team leaders, “The big picture is that we are trying to get the most conservation bang for the buck on private lands, recognizing right now that corn and soybeans pay the bills for farmers in the Corn Belt. We are trying to figure out, how do we meet our water quality goals, and how do we maintain our soil?”

Data from STRIPS plots first established in 2007 has provided a sort of ground floor for the initial phase of the study. Results were unprecedented and definitive. Between 2007 and 2012, strategically placed prairie strips covering 10% of a field were able to reduce soil sediment runoff by 95%, phosphorus by 90% and total nitrogen by 84%, when runoff was compared to that from a field of no-till row crops with no remediation.

Massey Ferguson and our exclusive customer magazine, FarmLife, are committed to providing farmers with big-picture ideas and best practices. See much more from customers and experts at

Massey Ferguson 9505 Series: Heir to the Throne

The newest in a long line of industry-leading combines, the Massey Ferguson 9505 Series promises increased comfort and enhanced grain-saving features. “Customers will still enjoy the tremendous throughput and enhanced grain quality provided by the Trident™ processor that we introduced in the 9500 Series,” says Caleb Schleder, senior tactical marketing specialist for AGCO brand combines. “The same goes for our unique V-Cool™ cooling package. The 9505 Series simply builds on that technology with new features that improve performance and further reduce grain loss.”

Massey Ferguson engineers started up front with an enhanced header drive system that offers increased durability and additional muscle to the header. Modifications include a variable-speed header drive, heavier drum bearings, a double clutch, and a three-groove header drive pulley and belt.

Massey Ferguson 9505 Series

Massey Ferguson 9505 Series

For improved cleaning performance, the 9505 Series machines also enhance the proven Massey Ferguson Trident processor with a new variable-speed hydraulic-drive fan that offers a wider speed range—from 100 to 1,350 rpm. The extended fan-speed range eliminating the need for a fan choke and removes that setting to simply adjusting to various crop types, while providing enhanced performance for harvesting grass seed and canola.

To provide better control of material distribution on the shoe and to enhance rotor and shoe performance, corn/soybean models have also been equipped with perforated left-side rotor panels, complete with removable covers. The panels also provide better distribution of material in the separation and threshing area.

“One of the unique new features is an optional powered grain saver that is installed on the end of the unloader tube,” Schleder adds. “Acting much like an internal gate, it rotates open and closed when the unloading auger is engaged or disengaged to eliminate grain loss, especially when unloading on the go.”

Cab features include a more spacious layout, ergonomic control placement and a new steering column. A new option is an Ag Leader® kit that allows for a yield-monitoring technology upgrade.

For full details about the new MF9505 Series combines—which comprises two models, the 460-HP MF9565 and 375-HP MF9545—see a Massey Ferguson dealer or log onto

Increase Baler Uptime

Gary Berrington knows the importance of keeping his balers in top condition. Based near Wellington, Nevada, Berrington uses 10 Hesston and Hesston by Massey Ferguson three-twine small rectangular balers to handle 6,000 to 7,000 acres of alfalfa—going through 80 to 100 pallets of twine in the process.

“I have two mechanics plus myself who go through the balers every year,” he explains, noting that he buys any needed parts from Ott’s Farm Equipment, his Massey Ferguson dealer in Fallon, Nevada. “We generally start by checking all the wear parts in the bale chamber, including the plunger bearings. After that, we move to the knotters, where we check everything from the bill hooks to the tensioners and guides.”

news_030815_procutBerrington insists any grooves worn into the twine guides can impair the flow of twine from the twine box to the knotters, potentially leading to a miss-tie, which, in turn, leads to lost time. He has also found through years of experience that some brands and types of twine cause more wear than others. So it’s important to check knotter components often.

“Finally, we’ll move to the front of the machine where we check the stripper plates, cam bearings, pickup tines, etc.,” he continues.

It’s not that Berrington doesn’t trust his dealer to make the necessary repairs, though. He insists distance is one factor, since Ott’s Farm Equipment is nearly 80 miles away. However, he believes the customer is in the best position to know his equipment and the types of wear to expect, based on conditions and use.

“The dealership may have plenty of experience with repairs,” he says. “But their mechanics aren’t the ones out here doing the baling. I feel you have to have some experience with maintenance on your own to know what needs to be replaced and what can wait.”

To help with maintaining your balers, check out our list of 20-plus checkpoints for round and/or square balers at

AGCO’s Harvest Promise is back for 2015

As a demonstration of our commitment to delivering exceptional aftersales service, AGCO Parts are once again running the highly regarded AGCO Harvest Promise programme during the 2015 harvest season*.

“Our unique AGCO Harvest Promise is our commitment that, in the exceptional situation where we can’t deliver critical parts** within 24 hours***, then AGCO will pay for a contractor to step in and harvest your crop until you’re up and running again****” says Falk Seidenfaden, Director Global and EAME Harvesting Parts.


This Harvest Promise assurance has been added to the great range of services, products and back-up already available through AGCO’s industry-leading aftersales support. AGCO makes major investments to deliver this exceptional Aftersales service. Our technical training schemes ensure that every Dealer technician knows your harvesting machine inside out. Our Dealers also have access to AGCO’s vast stocks of genuine replacement parts which are shipped using cutting-edge logistics. All of this is driven by one single goal – to keep you harvesting when your crop is ready to be harvested. Without compromise.

The programme is available in certain markets for specified current production harvesting machines. To register for the programme contact your local Massey Ferguson Dealer.

harvest promise table 0715

*The 2015 Harvest Promise programme is available 1st May to 31st October 2015 for registered machines only
**Your dealer can advise which parts are classified by AGCO as ‘critical’
***48 hours for offshore islands
****Maximum refund amounts apply; €3,500 for combines and €2,000 for large square balers


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