White haze filters the bright light around Freedom Hall in Louisville on the first night of the National Farm Machinery Show. Thousands of fans shout approval as 12,000-HP monsters drag a weight-transfer sled down a 245-foot dirt track on the arena floor. The sled weighs 15 tons when the tractor driver hooks up to it. By the end of the run, it weighs triple that. The modified tractors pulling that sled are burning more than 20 gallons of alcohol fuel in the eight-second trip.
“Call it the Super Bowl, the World Series, whatever,” says the event’s announcer, Dave Bennett, a former puller who was also the parts department manager at Livingston Machinery, the AGCO dealership in Chickasha, Okla., for 25 years. “It’s the only pull of its kind.” Eight classes of tractors compete over the four-day event, with preliminaries on the weeknights during NFMS and the finals on Saturday night.
“Run what you brung,” says four-time Louisville Grand Champion Joe Eder, “and hope you brung enough.”
Besides his own pulling prowess, Eder, now 43, is a renowned chassis builder (his customers count among them 21 Grand National championships) and he runs a two successful ag businesses—a custom harvesting enterprise and a mulch operation. And, when he’s in the field or atop a mountain of mulch, what brand of tractor does the power-hungry tractor-pull champ use? Massey Ferguson.
In fact, Eder has just taken delivery on two brand-new Massey Ferguson 8727s. In the mulch business, the MF8727 pushes material, and he uses it for mowing, merging and fieldwork in the custom harvesting business. “Going up the steep slopes of this mulch [mound] requires an immense amount of traction and power to ground,” Eder says. “And other ‘colors’ that don’t have this transmission, they’re not putting the horsepower to the ground, meaning there’s slippage.
“The CVT transmission and the horsepower in these big-frame tractors is the ultimate combination,” says Eder, who knows something about horsepower and chassis design. “It’s the same idea as 12,000 HP in the chassis design we produce” with Eder Motorsports, he says, which has built 92 pulling tractors for teams around the world. “I don’t care if one is 225 horse and another is 12,000 horse; you have to get it to the ground,” Eder says. “That’s where this transmission and motor combination is paying off.”
In recent posts, we shared our vision for the AGCO Future Farm concept, and in May we celebrated the official opening of our first Future Farm in Lusaka, Zambia. Today, we’d like to introduce one of the team members making this project successful: Farm Manager Richard Chapple.
Originally from the UK, Richard came to Zambia in November 2008 to visit family, but he was offered a job running a flight charter company and stayed. With a background as an agricultural contractor in the UK and experience sub-contracting combines in Zambia on behalf of a company called African Harvesters, he was a natural fit for AGCO and joined the Future Farm team in 2012.
Although every day on the farm is different, a typical morning for Richard starts at 7:30 a.m., when he has a meeting with his team of 32 workers. They allocate jobs based on what is planned for the day, from spraying programs to planting a variety of crops around the farm.
The Zambia Future Farm includes a state-of-the art facility designed to accommodate both small-scale and large commercial farmers, as well as education and training programs to provide hands-on experience with technology and utilize Africa’s agricultural resources more effectively. Chapple says this is reassuring to local farmers. “No matter what tractor you’re driving, it’s all about the support you’re receiving.”
Chapple has been involved with the Future Farm project since its inception in 2012, and he said the team experienced a great sense of achievement at the official launch on May 27. “In a small space of time, we’ve done a huge amount of work,” he said. “It’s like a jigsaw puzzle and all the pieces came together.”
What does Chapple find most rewarding about his job? “For me, it’s development, and not just of the farm itself,” he said. “When we took over the farm, we also took over the workforce that was here already. It’s the personal development of the workforce on the farm, the capacity building, and getting better relationships. I’ve learned a fair bit, as well.”
Zambia has huge potential in terms of resources to be tapped, and Chapple appreciates the opportunity to play a role the development of agriculture in the country. “I’m very excited and happy to be a part of it.”
By Amanda Wemette
Several recent news stories have highlighted a sobering statistic that global food production must increase 50-70 percent by the year 2050 to feed a projected population of 9 billion people. From tech firms and tech investment firms, to governments and a recent book entitled The End of Plenty, the public is beginning to rally behind an issue long familiar to those in the agriculture industry – we must do more with the land we have.
Around this subject, popular topics often include:
- The usage of fertilizers
- Water usage
- Big Data
- And more
Yet precision farming technology is often conspicuously absent in these discussions about how technology will help the planet become more productive. Those in the food and fiber production industries know technology plays a critical role in the future of agriculture. Diamond V®, an all-natural animal food manufacturer, cites “…food production must be the world’s new high-tech industry. An estimated 70 percent of the future increases in food production capacity need to come from new and improved agricultural technologies.” A recent study by the Boston Consulting Group also confirms the importance of precision farming for the future of agriculture.
Precision farming technology helps growers maximize productivity and increase uptime. It’s about increasing yields and reducing inputs through careful monitoring and optimization. Companies like AGCO have identified precision agriculture products and services as critical components for business success, and—more importantly—for successfully feeding the world. AGCO reaffirmed this mission with the launch of Fuse® Technologies in 2013.
Farm technology today is addressing pressing concerns such as labor shortages and environmental factors. For example, automatic guidance helps growers reduce overlaps and skips in the field, helps reduce operator fatigue and enables longer working hours. Telemetry and fleet monitoring help farmers optimize their machines and their operation as a whole. Downtime is reduced through logistics coordination and by carefully monitoring machine health. Growers can work smarter, not harder to grow more with what they have.
Guidance and telemetry are just two among many solutions available to farmers today that help them to be more productive. There are numerous solutions currently available, and future capabilities are limitless, especially as Silicon Valley and tech investment firms take notice. AGCO is thinking beyond more traditional opportunities too. The company is a proud partner in the Farm2050 initiative, which is dedicated to advancing the future of food through supporting AgTech entrepreneurs and startups. AGCO is also working to increase agricultural production in previously under-utilized lands, leading with the Future Farm opening in Africa, which includes precision farming offerings.
Advancing precision farming technology not only leads to increased efficiencies – it also leads to increased sustainability by reducing waste. For example, farmers apply fertilizers and pesticides in a purposeful manner based on crop need, instead of uniformly spraying an entire field.
There is no “silver bullet” to solve our agricultural challenges. Precision farming solutions are but one component of a very complex system, and should be included in the broader discussion as the public, the media and the technology sector take an interest in the challenge to feed our world.
Amanda Wemette is a digital marketing specialist for AGCO’s Advanced Technology Solutions group, focusing on delivering the Fuse Technologies message to customers, dealers, employees and investors. Connect with Amanda on Twitter @AmandaWemette.
 According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization
Massey Ferguson-supported heavyweight Alex Curletto clinched first place in the semi-finals of Italy’s Strongest Man competition in Pisa. This puts him in a front-running position as the Championship moves onto the finals in Florence in September.
Alex works for Massey Ferguson’s parent company, AGCO as an Accounts Payable Analyst based at the Company’s UK operations at Abbey Park, Stoneleigh in Warwickshire.
“It was a double victory for me personally as also I beat the Spanish champion who was the clear favourite to win the Pisa contest,” says Alex who trains for two hours a day, five days a week. “I won Italy’s Strongest Man title last year and I’m fully-focused on retaining my title. I’d like to thank Massey Ferguson for its continued support.”
“My training regime includes weight lifting and cardiovascular work. Right now, I’m consuming 5000-8000 calories daily to maintain my strength and size, and currently weigh in at around 160kg (26 stone). After the Italy Finals in September, I’ll be setting my sights on the World’s Strongest Man Championship 2016.”
Good Luck to Alex for his next test of raw power in Florence!
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There are a number of factors to consider when placing fertiliser with seed according to Dr. Mike Stewart from the International Plant Nutrition Institute in Norcross, Georgia, USA.
Placing fertiliser in-furrow with the seed during planting is a common practice in small grain production and to some extent in row-crop production. Placing fertiliser with the seed can be an effective and beneficial management practice, but over- application and mismanagement can result in seedling damage, and ultimate stand and yield loss. The type of crop, fertiliser source, row spacing, and soil environment all affect how much fertiliser can be safely applied with seed.
Type of crop: Some crops are more susceptible to injury from in-furrow fertilisation than others. Oil seed crops are particularly sensitive; therefore most guidelines allow no fertiliser placed with the seed of these crops. The general order of sensitivity (most to least) among major crops grown on the Great Plains in the United States is soybeans > sorghum > corn > small grains.
Type of fertiliser: Fertilisers are salts, and these salts can affect the ability of the seedling to absorb water… too much fertiliser (salt) and seedling desiccation or “burn” can occur. Some fertiliser materials have a higher salt index or burn potential than others. Salt index values are usually included in basic agronomic texts, or are available from fertiliser dealers or extension resources such as government bodies or universities. As a general rule, most common nitrogen (N) and potassium (K) fertilisers have higher salt indexes than phosphorus (P) fertilisers; therefore, a common predictor for the potential for salt damage is the sum of N+K2O per acre (0.4 ha) applied with the seed. For example, most guidelines for corn (maize) in 30 inch (76.2 cm) rows will allow for no more than 10 lb (4.5kg)/A of N+K2O in medium to fine textured soils — assuming no urea-containing products are used.
Ammonia formation potential of fertiliser: Fertilisers that have the potential to release free ammonia can cause ammonia toxicity to germinating seeds or young emerging seedlings. Thus, extra caution must be used with in-furrow placement of urea-containing fertilisers. In some cases urea-ammonium nitrate (UAN) or urea can be applied successfully in-furrow in small grain production, but this requires careful consideration of several factors including those discussed below.
Row spacing: For a specific set of circumstances (i.e. crop, soil conditions, etc.) the safe rate of in-furrow fertiliser increases as row spacing narrows or decreases. A narrowing row space has the effect of diluting fertiliser over more linear feet (metres) of row.
Soil type and environment: Soil conditions that tend to concentrate salts, or stress the germinating seed, increase the potential for damage. So, the safe limit for in-furrow fertilisation is reduced with sandier soil texture and in drier soil conditions. Also, environmental conditions that induce stress and/or slow germination (e.g. cold temperature) can prolong fertiliser-seed contact and thus increase the likelihood of damage.
Seed bed utilisation: The more scatter there is between seed and fertiliser in the seed band or row, the more fertiliser can be safely applied. The type of planting equipment and seed opener influences the intimacy of seed-fertiliser contact. The concept of “seed bed utilisation” (SBU) has been used to address this factor. SBU is simply the seed row width divided by the row width (i.e., proportion of row width occupied by seed row). The wider the seed row for a specific row width the greater the SBU. As SBU increases so does the safe rate of in-furrow fertilisation.
* Reprinted from the International Plant Nutrition Institute, Plant Nutrition Today Series by Dr Mike Stewart. http://www.ipni.net/pnt