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Crop Tour 2016: Indiana Edition

By Darren Goebel

Greetings once again from Crop Tour 2016.   During the last week of July, I travelled to the Kevin Trimble farm in Amboy, Indiana, about an hour north of Indianapolis.   While most of the Midwest has been getting plenty of rain, this pocket in north central, Indiana is super dry.   In fact, Kevin told me that his farm has not received any appreciable amount of rain since the latter part of June.

Crop Tour Sign

As a result of the dry weather, the crop is showing signs of stress, highlighting some key differences in our plots.

DeltaForce left-400# right

This is the split between automatic hydraulic downforce (DeltaForce) on the left and 400# downforce on the right.    Notice that the corn on the right is showing more drought stress; lower leaves are brown and desiccated with overall lighter plant color.   This is a result of heavy in furrow packing that created compaction in the root zone.  While you would not normally see this in a whole field, differences show up very clearly in the plot.  In a three-year study, growers that used DeltaForce averaged 11 bushels per acre higher yield.  I suspect the yield difference will be much higher in this field, but we will have to wait until fall to know for sure.

Compaction problems quickly show up when moisture is limiting.


Kevin drove his backhoe along the end to demonstrate how automatic hydraulic down force can adjust to differences in soil bulk density.  Above: The crop is suffering in the compaction zone.  Below: Planting Map showing compaction zone.

Compaction zone

This report shows that compaction from backhoe path prior to planting caused Deltaforce to react at planting.

The depth of planting study is showing some interesting results.  Many growers plant corn shallow because they believe there is less risk in stand establishment.  Unfortunately, shallow planting can cause as many problems as it solves.   Most agronomists recommend a minimum of 1.5” planting depth with 2” preferred.  Of course, soil type and moisture level should be taken into account.  One great thing about White planters is that depth control can be calibrated to ensure consistent planting depth across the entire width of the planter.  In this case, the planter planted the corn consistently at 1” deep.  Unfortunately, there wasn’t uniform enough moisture at 1” to get all of the seed up consistently.

1_ planting depth - note runts

This is the split between 1” planting depth on the right and 1.5” planting depth on the left.  The 1” planting depth is exhibiting runt plants as a result of delayed emergence due to dry soils at that depth after planting.   These runt plants will not produce an ear.   The 1.5” and deeper planting depths do not have any issues with runt plants.   Stand establishment is similar at all planting depths (1.5, 2.0, 2.5, and 3.0) except 3.5” depth.   The 3.5” planting depth is suffering about a 10% reduction in stand.  We will take these plots to yield and share results in an upcoming report.

Stand uniformity in corn has been getting a lot of attention since the late 90s.   Most farmers and agronomists know there are heavy yield penalties for skips and doubles making planter performance absolutely critical.   Making things even more challenging, seed companies can’t always guarantee requested seed sizes for that hot new hybrid; and refuge in the bag is a whole other story since seed from different lots must be blended in the same bag.   The 9800VE series incorporates meters that can accurately singulate and row units that can accurately plant any corn seed size.

Near picket fence stand

Above:  Near picket fence stand.  Below:  Doubles and Skips from a poorly adjusted planter.

Skips and Doubles

During the last two weeks of August, a team of Agronomists and Product Specialists will be travelling throughout the Midwest speaking at Crop Tour 2016 plot locations. RSVP to attend a Crop Tour event near you:!

AGCO and SDI: More Power, Less Compaction

Nate Ray has some 25,000 hungry mouths to feed—all of them the bovine beauties at De Jager Farms’ eight dairies in California’s Central Valley. Specifically, Ray oversees operations on De Jager’s 17,000 acres of farmland, most of which is used to grow corn, wheat and alfalfa.

Over the years, Ray has helped introduce new practices at the farm, including subsurface drip irrigation (SDI). Yet, as is often the case, one change begets another, as when the use of SDI created an even greater need to reduce compaction.

Ray found the solution in the form of a Challenger® MT865E. “We chose this Challenger track machine for our minimum-tillage operations,” says Ray, “and basically it was to reduce our compaction and just to give us more power to the ground that we weren’t getting with our John Deere machines. The Challenger,” which he says has also reduced fuel usage, has “provided more torque, more pulling power and greater efficiency.”

Ray and De Jager also recently switched to AGCO windrowers. “Over the course of two years,” says Ray, “we tried out just about every brand on the market, from New Holland to John Deere to MacDon to Case, and we pretty much fell in love with the AGCO machines.”

In the course of making the change—to two Challenger and two Massey Ferguson® WR9760 self-propelled windrowers—Ray was also able to actually reduce the number of windrowers from six, while making the seven to eight cuttings of alfalfa per year on the same acreage in less time and using less fuel. What’s more, he says, the quality of the cutting is “on par, if not better, with the AGCO rotary heads.”

As for his AGCO dealership, “We’ve been working with Holt of California for about four years now, and their service has been excellent. Their expertise and knowledge of the machines has enabled us to run them to their maximum performance. And we’ve just had a great working relationship with them. They’ve provided excellent customer support.”

For more, see

Farm Marketing: Reaching A Hungry Public

East Fork Farm in Madison County, N.C., earns 90% of its revenues from farmers markets. To stand out from other vendors, farmers Stephen and Dawn Robertson hand out samples and provide recipe cards.

“When I give someone a sample and a recipe card, I sell double,” says Dawn. “It takes the burden off of them to figure out how to use our products.”

Dawn Robertson looks after chickens.

Dawn Robertson looks after chickens.

Until 2013, the couple sold their eggs, chicken and lamb at four markets per week. Sales were great, but the commitment left the couple burned out and struggling to keep up with farm chores. To maximize revenues and minimize their off-farm commitments, the Robertsons dropped down to one weekend market and built a farm store.

Dawn turned to social media to build buzz about the farm, sharing photos and updates on Facebook and Instagram, and started sending a monthly newsletter with information about product availability.“People want to know what’s happening on the farm,” she says. “It’s a new way for us to market our proteins.”

Digital media is an important tool in connecting with customers, as are other technologies, such as electronic payment options and SNAP/WIC benefits. Programs like Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) and mobile farmers markets have also been embraced by producers.

But such new methods of reaching customers are not for everyone. Some farmers, such as Ron Thompson of Rockwood, Ontario, stick to the basics.

Thompson doesn’t have a web site or social media presence to market the squash, green beans, Brussels sprouts, beets, Swiss chard and other vegetables he grows on his 9-acre farm in Rockwood, Ontario. He doesn’t send newsletters with updates about what he’s bringing to market.

Thompson is still marketing his vegetables the same way he did in the 1970s. “I go to the farmers market on Saturday mornings,” he explains.

Thompson has been loading his pickup truck with fresh produce and driving 45 minutes to the Brampton Farmers Market for almost four decades. In the early years, he harvested less produce and sold to fewer customers. Now, he’s racing to keep up with demand at the bustling market. “I haven’t changed what I’m doing, but, all of a sudden, the market is packed and people can’t wait to get farm-fresh vegetables,” says Thompson.

Regardless of the advent of new opportunities, Thompson believes that effective farm marketing comes down to one thing: “You have to raise a good product,” he says. “Without a good product, you might sell to a customer once, but you’ll never sell to them again.”

For more on how farmers are marketing their wares, see

Spectacular pageant of 70 tractors marks 70th anniversary of the Coventry produced Ferguson TE20

Massey Ferguson reports that enthusiastic crowds turned out to see the historic ’70 Tractors for 70 Years’ parade through the streets of the City of Coventry on 30 July.


The cavalcade and display of machines old and new was staged by Culture Coventry to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the start of production of the iconic Ferguson TE20 tractor. In July 1946, the first Ferguson TE20 tractor, affectionately known as the ‘Little Grey Fergie’, rolled off the assembly line at its former Banner Lane manufacturing plant in Coventry in the UK. The tractor was the brainchild of engineer and inventor, Harry Ferguson, a founder of the present-day Massey Ferguson, one of the world’s foremost   producers of farm machinery for global markets.

’70 Tractors for 70 Years’ parade through the streets of the City of Coventry on 30 July.

’70 Tractors for 70 Years’ parade through the streets of the City of Coventry on 30 July.

The tractors for the event were brought together by the Friends of Ferguson Heritage Club. Led by a 20.3hp 1947 Ferguson TE20, equipped with a 2-furrow plough, and the mighty 400hp MF 8737 – the most powerful tractor in the current Massey Ferguson line-up – the procession wound its way through Coventry finishing at Millennium Place outside the Transport Museum. Unusually, it was not the familiar Massey Ferguson red livery for the MF 8737. Instead, it had been especially prepared by Massey Ferguson with striking black paintwork – paying homage to the prototype Ferguson Black tractor of 1933 which was the first to incorporate Harry Ferguson’s pioneering ideas for a three-point linkage system to connect tractor and implement.  In a tribute to the manufacturing legacy of the Banner Lane plant, Massey Ferguson named the black MF 8737 the ‘City of Coventry’. Seated in the cab for the duration of the parade was the Lord Mayor of Coventry, Councillor Lindsley Harvard.

Lord Mayor of Coventry, Councillor Lindsley Harvard, seated in the black ‘City of Coventry’ MF 8737.

Lord Mayor of Coventry, Councillor Lindsley Harvard, seated in the black ‘City of Coventry’ MF 8737.

“It was a marvellous event and wonderful to see this pageant celebrating the brilliant engineering of the Ferguson TE20 which changed the world of farm mechanisation.” says Campbell Scott, Massey Ferguson Director Marketing Services (who himself drove a 1949 TEA20 tractor in the blue livery of Brighton Corporation).  “We are so proud of this superb legacy of practical and innovative technology which continues to inspire our design engineers and is at the heart of Massey Ferguson’s 21st century mission to produce straightforward, dependable equipment to increase the efficiency and productivity of farmers all over the world. Today, more than 200,000 tractors bearing our famous Massey Ferguson ‘Triple Triangle’ brand are built every year for global markets.”

Tractors taking part in the pageant showcased a wide range of Ferguson, Massey-Harris and Massey Ferguson machines produced since 1946. The tractor coming from furthest afield for the event was a 1949 Ferguson TEA20 fitted with half-track equipment which travelled nearly 200 miles from Exeter in Devon. From much closer to home was a 2015 MF 5610 Dyna-4 on turf tyres based in Finham, Coventry. A beautifully-restored, prize-winning MF 65 industrial tractor painted in the requisite yellow from Skipton, Yorkshire represented the non-agricultural ranges.

’70 Tractors for 70 Years’ parade through the streets of the City of Coventry on 30 July.

’70 Tractors for 70 Years’ parade through the streets of the City of Coventry on 30 July.

Over half a million Ferguson TE20 tractors (Tractor England) were built at the Banner Lane plant between 6 July 1946 and 13 July 1956.  Key to the global success of the tractor was its unique three-point linkage implement attachment system controlled by the tractor’s hydraulics. Designated the ‘Ferguson System,’ this effectively turned the tractor and implement into a single working unit, replacing the previous cumbersome trailed method of implement operation.

Massey Ferguson is a leading global farm machinery brand producing a full-line range of tractors, harvesting equipment and agricultural implements. Its well-known red-liveried equipment is distributed in 140 countries.

Established in 1994, The Friends of Ferguson Heritage Club has over 5000 members worldwide who are dedicated to all things Ferguson, Massey Ferguson and Massey Harris.

The Ferguson TE20’s 70th anniversary inspired Culture Coventry’s current ‘Tractors – From Factory to Field’ exhibition at Coventry Transport Museum (runs until 19 September) and the public display of the Daniel Massey Bronze Sculpture at the city’s Herbert Museum and Art Gallery. Culture Coventry manages three of Coventry’s major visitor attractions including Coventry Transport Museum, Herbert Museum and Art Gallery and the Lunt Roman Fort.

Celebrations for a Production Milestone

67,000th combine harvester to be manufactured at AGCO Breganze plant in Italy is a Massey Ferguson BETA 7370.

Massey Ferguson is celebrating production of the 67,000th combine harvester at AGCO’s Breganze Manufacturing Facility in northern Italy.

MF Beta 7370, the 67,000th combine harvester to be manufactured at the Breganze plant in Italy

MF Beta 7370, the 67,000th combine harvester to be manufactured at the Breganze plant in Italy

The 67,000th machine to roll off the assembly line is a 360hp MF BETA 7370 combine destined for work in Sweden.

The 25ha Breganze site is AGCO’s Harvesting Centre of Excellence and produces a full range of MF combine harvesters suitable for small farmers through to the high-capacity models required by large-scale agribusiness customers. Along with the MF BETA combine, these include the MF ACTIVA, MF ACTIVA S, MF CENTORA and MF DELTA.

The MF BETA 7370 taking the title of 67,000th combine is bound for Massey Ferguson Dealer GH:s Traktorcity in Östergötland, Sweden.

“Massey Ferguson combines have had a highly successful year in Sweden seeing a doubling in the number of units sold,” explains Adam Sherriff, Market Development Manager, Massey Ferguson Harvesting. “The MF BETA 7370 is our best-selling combine model in the country and features the acclaimed Skyline cab which provides excellent visibility, ergonomically-positioned controls and superb comfort to make the operator’s job easier and more productive.”

Multi-million dollar investments in recent years have transformed the AGCO Breganze plant into a world-class site. Certified to ISO standards, some of the most recent developments at the 65,000 m2 factory have seen a complete reorganisation of the supply chain and production process, the installation of new rolling and panelling machines, robot welding automated systems, a state-of-the art paint-shop and the opening of the magnificent AgriDome Visitors Centre.

Massey Ferguson combines have been in production at Breganze site since 2004. In June 2007, this partnership was further strengthened when AGCO acquired a 50% stake in Breganze-based Laverda S.p.A from the Italian Argo Group. AGCO fully acquired the plant in 2010 bringing over 50 years of combine manufacturing experience in Italy into the AGCO family. The current site was opened in 1979.

Find out more about AGCO’s Breganze Manufacturing Facility


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