By Dr. Bernhard Schmitz
AGCO’s Fuse® Technologies strategy and precision farming products were presented during the recent Future Farm opening in Zambia. Visitors learned about AGCO’s technology offerings that are currently available for the future farm:
- All technology enabled machines were equipped with Auto-GuideTM
- All technology enabled machines were equipped with AGCO’s telemetry system, AgCommand®.
- The open approach of the Fuse strategy was perfectly demonstrated with the presence of Precision Decision next to the Fuse tent. Precision Decision offers services around precision agriculture such as soil sampling.
The Future Farm perfectly showcases AGCO’s open approach by exemplifying how different agricultural business partners are brought together to connect and demonstrate the best farming practices for Africa.
To follow the latest updates about the Future Farm, connect with @AGCOcorp on Twitter and follow the hashtags #FutureFarm and #AGCOAfrica.
Dr. Bernhard Schmitz is a Commercial Manager for AGCO’s Advanced Technology Solutions group, focusing on Fuse precision farming products for the EAME region.
With 3,000 acres of alfalfa, much of which is grown on hilly land, David and Janice Estes put their equipment to the test. That includes their new Hesston by Massey Ferguson WR9870 self-propelled windrower.
“I think it actually gets a little better fuel economy than the WR9770 that we had before,” says David, whose operation is near El Reno, Okla. “Yet, the WR9870 has even more horsepower to handle heavy crops and rolling terrain.”
The WR9870, which delivers up to 225 rated HP and 240 boost HP from its 6.6-liter AGCO POWER™ engine, is one of three new models in the WR9800 Series. With a 4-cylinder QuadBoost engine, the WR9860 features 195 rated HP and 208 boost HP, while the WR9840 offers 137 rated HP and 148 boost HP. Complementing all that power, the WR9800 Series offers up to 17.5 mph working speed and 22 mph transport speed for improved efficiency.
“Like the previous WR9700 Series, it operates all hydraulic, engine and drive functions by means of an onboard virtual computer terminal,” says Kyle Kitt, AGCO marketing manager for hay and forage equipment. “The WR9800 Series improves efficiency and decreases operator fatigue,” Kitt continues. This allows the new Auto Load Control function to automatically adjust the windrower ground speed based on the engine load and the header drive pressure.
Referring to the OptiCruise™ function, Estes says,“Using two buttons on the back of the hydro handle, you can increase or decrease speed in increments of [0.6] mph in the field and 2 mph on the road.” The WR9800 Series also includes a new remote center link switch for adjustment outside the cab for faster, easier header hookup.
Adds Kitt, “When combined with the new Auto-Guide™ 3000 GPS-guided steering system … these new automatic features allow the machine to be operated virtually hands-free.” The series also features a new hydro handle with up to 16 programmable functions that can be set for an operator’s specific needs. Those include, says Kitt, “the engagement or disengagement of functions like Auto Load Control, head speed and flotation, and reel speed on the fly.”
Concessionaire Deena Coleman has run the Pokagon State Park Saddle Barn for the past 25 years, introducing thousands to her love of horses and the great outdoors. “Growing up, my childhood was filled with these types of experiences,” says Deena. “I feel bad that a lot of kids never get a chance to do it at all. I think that’s why I feel good about this,” she says about her work at the Saddle Barn.
Deena’s passion for horses has proved infectious. Most notably 32 years ago, when she won over Larry, the man who would be her husband. “About two months after I met him, he bought a horse,” Deena says.
As a couple, then as a family, when their daughter Kelly was born, the Colemans continued to keep and raise horses. Eventually, they landed the lease for the Saddle Barn and haven’t looked back.
Today, Larry and Deena maintain day jobs at the local post office while running the Saddle Barn. Deena’s dad, Eldon, does payroll, and they get a huge helping hand from their Massey Ferguson 1742 tractor and their dealership Harmony Outdoor Equipment, which provides on-time parts and service.
Yes, the hours may be long and the work hard, but the Colemans will tell you the Saddle Barn has become a hub for three generations of family and a dream realized.
Still in its early stages in North America, the harvesting and processing industry for cellulosic ethanol now has something to show for years of research and planning in the form of three new cellulosic ethanol plants.
Bill Levy, chief executive officer of PacificAg, believes the North American biomass industry is poised for growth. “Over the next decade or so, it will become a major market,” he says.
Two of the three new cellulosic plants are in Iowa—one operated by DuPont in Nevada; the other in Emmetsburg is run by South Dakota-based ethanol producer POET/DSM—and both process corn stover. The other facility—located in Hugoton, Kan., and run by Abengoa Bioenergy Biomass—uses some wheat straw in addition to corn and milo stover, all of which is supplied exclusively by PacificAg.
For every 180 bushels of grain, the average producer will have about 4.3 tons of stover. To maintain sufficient organic matter in the soil and to prevent erosion, the USDA advises leaving an average of 2.3 tons per acre on the ground. Studies have shown that leaving too much residue can increase the likelihood of disease the following spring, make planting more difficult and use up nitrogen.
“The biggest benefit we bring growers is an alternative method for managing high residue,” says Denny Penland, business development manager for DuPont Cellulosic Ethanol. “And it also produces a platform for producing next year’s crop of corn.”
In Canada, there are currently no biomass plants online or in the works, but Charles Lalonde, a project manager with the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, says he expects that’s going to change in the next few years. He says there will soon be demand for corn stover and wheat straw inside Canadian borders.
“With corn stover, we’re trying to develop a market for it in bioprocessing,” Lalonde explains. He anticipates that facility will focus on using cellulosic material to produce sugars for use in various biochemical productions.
U.S. plants making ethanol from grains, mainly corn, are currently at capacity, producing 12 billion to 13 billion gallons annually. “Right now, the industry is waiting for the cellulosic side of these projects to get up and running,” Levy says. By comparison, it’s estimated that the new plants will be able to produce around 75 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol a year.
Plans for seven new cellulosic ethanol plants have been announced by the USDA, three of which will use agricultural waste, while the others will use resources like wood chips, wood waste and municipal solid waste.
And while the bulk of the U.S. market now is corn stover, Glenn Farris, AGCO’s manager of segment strategy for biomass/industrials, expects a market for dedicated energy crops to emerge, such as Miscanthus and switchgrass.
Farris says he believes that by 2030 more producers will see 300 bushels of corn per acre. That means 8 to 10 tons of stover per acre on the ground within the next 15 years.
Says Levy, “I think we’re going to see a revolution in the biomass market in the years to come. As the world turns to renewable energy, agriculture is going to be a direct benefactor.”
AGCO engineers from around the globe participate in Plugfest to improve interoperability of precision equipment and data
By Ben Craker
AGCO engineers from around the globe recently participated in the Agricultural Industry Electronics Foundation (AEF) spring Plugfest in Lincoln, Nebraska. The annual event brings together tractor, terminal, and implement manufacturers from around the globe to test compatibility with each other under the ISO11783 standard for agricultural machine communications. Participants at Plugfest bring the terminals and Electronic Control Units (ECU) used in their machinery to test compatibly with other manufacturers. Historically there have been slight differences in interpretation of the ISO11783 standard between companies, sometimes resulting in incompatibilities. The event gives ag equipment manufacturers a chance to test with many different manufactures in one location to identify any issues.
The recent launch of the AEF ISOBUS Database website earlier this year at the SIMA show in France has given additional structure to the ISO11783 standard. Manufacturers that participate in the ISOBUS database must have their software and hardware conformance tested by independent third party test labs to verify adherence to the standards. The overall ISO11783 standard has been broken down into multiple, different functionality tests ranging from universal terminal support to automatic section control and georeferenced data logging. Using the database, farmers are able to select from machinery that has been conformance tested to see what functionalities will work with various different tractor and implement combinations.
In addition to the Plugfest event, several meetings took place during the week. The AEF organization is broken up into multiple different working groups, each with their own teams focused on specific projects. The working groups are composed of members from many different manufactures from all over the world; the event gives them an opportunity to meet face to face and work on their areas of focus. This year also saw a meeting between the AEF working group focused on Farm Management Information System (FMIS) communication and the AgGateway SPADE and ADAPT teams. The two groups identified areas where they can collaborate – minimizing the duplication of effort – while working toward better communication between manufactures to simplify the process of moving farmers’ data between different machines and software.
AGCO’s involvement in organizations like AgGateway and AEF and participation at events like Plugfest are examples of the Fuse® Technologies open approach and mixed fleet focus. These groups are continuously working so that precision farming technology will be easier to use when a grower has multiple brands of equipment. The work done by engineers and other personnel from AGCO and other companies moves the entire industry forward toward a goal of interoperability of precision equipment and data.
Ben Craker is a Manager for AGCO’s Advanced Technology Solutions group, focusing on Global Partnerships and Standards for Fuse Technologies. Connect with Ben on Twitter @crakerb.