By: Ben Craker
Recently I had the opportunity to talk with Kevin Harwood and Ryan Considine, the hosts of Mutual Mobile’s Tech Table podcast. Mutual Mobile is a consulting firm specializing in mobile solutions and is one of AGCO’s key partnerships for delivering best-in-class precision farming technology solutions to AGCO’s customers and dealers. Normally the podcasts feature guests discussing topics related to Android, iOS, the web and where new technology is headed. For my recent visit the hosts branched out a little to learn how farm technologies are changing, and the impact the Internet of Things (IoT) will have on the day to day life of the average farmer. We talked about how products like Auto-Guide™ and VarioGuide have become must-haves for farm operations of nearly any size.
Data, of course, was a main topic of discussion. We talked about the coming evolution in the way farms are managed, such as how innovative products like Go-Task™ and VarioDoc allow farmers to get information to and from machines easily so they can pass it securely to the software tools and trusted advisors they choose. Enabling data to flow to the right places for quick and accurate analysis will enable growers to manage their fields on a nearly plant by plant basis. We also discussed how the stream of information coming off machines and into tools like AgCommand® will allow new levels of uptime and productivity. Should farmers elect to share this machine information with their dealers, a new level of uptime can be unlocked through remote monitoring and analysis of machine performance.
So if you are interested in technology and the future of farming from data to drones, check out the February Tech Table podcast from Mutual Mobile to see what we discussed. There is also a great archive of other podcasts covering a wide variety of technology innovation with topics like the connected car, the Internet of Things and technology in healthcare.
For more information about Fuse, AGCO’s open approach to precision agriculture, visit www.AGCOcorp.com/Fuse.
Ben Craker is a Manager of Product Management Data, Partners and Standards for AGCO’s Advanced Technology Solutions group. Connect with Ben on Twitter @crakerb.
The last two winters on Prince Edward Island have been epic. Just ask Jamie Fox, who not only lives on PEI, but owns a truck stop that—no matter the depth of the snow—he keeps open 24/7.
How does he do it? He gives a chunk of the credit to his Massey Ferguson tractor.
Last winter, Fox could often be seen clearing drifts that were 4 to 5 feet above the tractor, an MF1635. “It’s so user-friendly,” he says. “It’s a pleasure to drive. The cab has plenty of visibility, and it has a much shorter turning radius than most tractors, which makes it easy to maneuver around the fuel pumps and service islands.
“I bought the tractor in 2011 and it already has close to 1,100 hours on it. Yet it’s never once failed me,” he adds.
Although the MF1635 that Fox uses is no longer part of the Massey Ferguson lineup, Brandon Montgomery, AGCO product manager for <160 HP tractors, says the MF1700 Series that replaced it is equally adept at snow removal.
“We’ve had customers buy a whole fleet of them just for that purpose,” he relates. “The MF1736 through MF1759 models are all available with a very large cab that provides excellent visibility, while blowing and pushing snow. Plus, they have a good transport speed for moving from one job to the next,” he adds, noting that the excellent power-to-weight ratio has also been beneficial in snow removal applications.
Kristin Pyle says her dad tells a story about a cross-country drive from Boston to San Francisco “sometime in the 70s,” when he fell in love with Iowa.
“He was driving, and all of a sudden everything was green and pretty, and he just thought it was the prettiest place he’d ever seen. “Most of my life, growing up, we heard ‘We’re going to move to Iowa,’” she says.
Farmers in Iowa know that everything is green because of fruitful black dirt, quite an upgrade (at least for growing corn and beans) from the red clay where Kristin Pyle’s family lived in North Carolina. That’s where Kristin grew up on a family farm with her two sisters, her mom, Nancy, and her Iowa-loving dad, Bill Tucker, who, back then, was also a cardiovascular surgeon.
When Bill retired from medicine, it was Iowa or bust—he and Nancy wanted to be full-time farmers. He now owns 645 acres just a few miles outside Colo, Iowa. He rents another 80 from a neighbor.
After decades of dreaming, it makes sense Bill would be driving a pickup across Iowa acreage today. What takes a little explaining is how Kristin ended up riding here with him, after leaving the farm in North Carolina for college “with no plan to come back to the farm at all … not at all,” she laughs.
A self-described “math and science nerd,” Kristin studied civil engineering, then spent a summer on the new Iowa farm helping oversee construction on her parents’ house. “I met an Ames man,” she says, and moved to the college town—home of Iowa State University—in 2009.
It was fate. Kristin, now 32, is wrapping up her second growing season working with Bill. She and her parents make no big deal at all of her desire to be a female operator in a male-dominated industry, still the case in U.S. farming, where less than 14% of farm operators are women.
“Every engineering company I’ve worked for, at some point I’ve been the only female engineer in the office,” she says. “And, my engineering background gives me a different perspective on how to do things.” The message is clear: Not an issue.
“She knew she was going to have to use her [education],” says Nancy. “It is a tremendous advantage to have that mechanical ability, and she’s got it.” Thanks in part to the family’s AGCO equipment, including a Gleaner S77 combine and AGCO tractors, as well as Sunflower and White Planters tools, Kristen has been able to rise to the physical challenges of the job. “I think the equipment and technology has made it less of a man’s world because it takes some of the physicality out of it,” says Kristin.
By Nyasha Mudukuti, AGCO Africa Ambassador 2016
‘Okay, the mic is set Nyasha, are you ready?’…. l looked at the AGCO team and simply nodded, l could feel my adrenaline level rising up. Just across me stood Jean Kaahwa, AGCO Africa Ambassador 2015, with an encouraging look. Couple of minutes later l was on stage with Prof. Martin Richenhagen, CEO of AGCO, and Dr. Rob Smith, AGCO‘s Senior Vice President and General Manager, Europe, Africa and Middle East. l could not believe l was sharing the stage with these two great men.
l hardly remember what l said on stage, but l vividly remember opening my eyes, standing in front of hundreds of guests. Not just ordinary guests, these were key stakeholders and major players in the agricultural sector. Most of which l had only read about, and never ever dreamt l could be able to shake hands and later on dine with. This is the beauty of being the AGCO Africa Ambassador….. lol.
Unlike Joy and Jean, the previous Ambassadors, my journey to being the AGCO Africa Ambassador had it’s own hurdles. It took me two years to stand on that stage, and I am glad l did not give up. So here l am in Berlin, super cold, first time in Europe and first snow experience. Fast forward to my hotel room, couple of hours after arriving, Sue Musunga Chuzu, the first AGCO Africa Ambassador checked on me and by default she babysat me. She shared with me her moderation experience, toured Berlin with me and let‘s not forget about that crazy shopping experience. Later in the evening I had my first meeting with the rest of the AGCO team welcoming me aboard.
So back on stage, I was listening to every panel discussion and thought about how relevant the issues were to my continent. The best part of the conference for me was listening to the success stories of two young agri-preneurs Eric Kaduru, the Founder of KadAfrica, and Ally Angula, the Co-founder and Managing Director of Leap Holdings. A revolution is not a revolution without young people and these two stories together with AGCO, Rabobank, Bayer CropScience made me realize that the transformation of the African agricultural sector is here and it‘s NOW!!!!
Stretching from South Dakota down to Texas, the Ogallala Aquifer has helped turn the land it irrigates into some of the world’s most agriculturally productive. Yet many farmers, researchers and others are concerned about recent signs that the aquifer is being depleted.
So what can be done to conserve those reserves? Many approaches, both new and old, are being researched, but one method of particular interest is subsurface drip irrigation (SDI). Whether or not SDI can replace center-pivot irrigation in field crops to improve water conservation and increase yields is a question Ricky James, a Plainview producer and Massey Ferguson customer, set out to answer.
James, whose brother Jerry operates the AGCO dealership James Bros. Implement, farms 2,600 acres. A little more than a decade ago, he decided to give SDI a try on 40 rented acres. Back then, most SDI was put on 80-inch spacings. “But then we hit the 2011 drought, with only 7 inches of rain that year, and those 80-inch centers wrecked us,” he says.
So the producer, who also sits on the Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board, was left scrambling to add in the tape necessary for 40-inch centers. “Then the cost of that thing ran way up,” he says.
Lockney, Texas, drip installer Dusty Cornelius concedes that cost does intimidate some producers. He estimates $1,700 to $2,200 an acre for installation on 40-inch centers. By way of comparison, a half-mile pivot system generally runs $70,000, or about $218 an acre.
In addition to price, there are some barriers that make drip less effective than pivot systems or other methods. Rolling terrain may present a challenge to establishing equal water pressure, and fields often need to be subdivided, which ups the cost. Rodent damage can be problematic; and, since the soil surface stays dry, SDI can affect seed germination.
Rick Kellison, project manager of the Texas Alliance for Water Conservation (TAWC), did his own comparison between methods with more cost-effective results. Three fields utilized drip. The other three used LEPA center pivots, outfitted with bubbler nozzles, “a sprinkler that delivers water straight to the soil in a narrow band, reducing the propensity for wind drift or evaporation,” Kellison explains.
According to Kellison, the amount of water used in SDI and LEPA was the same. At the trial’s conclusion, the corn yield from SDI was slightly higher, but, Kellison says, it was only “a half-bushel of a … difference in yield.”