Butch Gist and Marvin Davis are something of a dynamic duo. Together, they own D&G Chopping, a silage harvesting and packing operation, and run the latter’s family business, Gist Farms, a conglomeration of trucking, rail, equipment repair and farming.
Having worked together for 40-plus years, the two have weathered the ups and downs that buffet any business. Having experienced it in the fast-paced, topsy-turvy environment that is California agriculture, it has at times seemed more like a super roller-coaster ride, complete with barrel rolls and loop-de-loops.
They’ve seen business models and farms come and go. Yet, they’ve adapted and survived, even thrived. “We’ve seen a lot of changes in farming,” Davis says. “But we’ve found our way … found a way to adapt as the business changed.”
For instance, some 20-plus years ago, dairies began replacing many row-crop operations in California’s Central Valley. Running a custom harvesting operation, Davis and Gist realized they needed to change their focus, too. “The dairy industry just exploded in our area,” Davis says. “They were moving everything over to chopping, to silage. By the end of that first season, we had three new choppers … and basically a new business.”
D&G Chopping was born. “That was 25 years ago,” continues Davis, “and since then we’ve begun packing that silage for our customers, and all along watching for other opportunities.”
Yet, one of their secrets to success is not jumping into new ventures too quickly. Another is finding the right partners, which Davis and Gist say they have in many facets, including their choice of AGCO and their Challenger MT955E. They use the latter in packing silage and are extremely happy with its comfort, fuel efficiency, durability and power.
Another ingredient, says Gist: “It all goes back to the saying that I always felt was important: ‘The secret to success is putting your shadow on your business … across what’s going on.’ You just have to make sure you’re there watching and stay in touch.”
The new Challenger 1000 Series tractors are more than a new line of high-horsepower machines. They also represent an engineering breakthrough, offering tech-savvy solutions for today’s agribusiness operations.
“The Challenger 1000 Series is a completely new class of tractors,” says Josh Keeney, Challenger tactical marketing manager for North America. Each of the four models in the series, he says, “delivers more for less, with high efficiency and incredible power … all while offering intelligent, superior engineering, and exceptional road speed and operator comfort.
Ranging from 396 to 517 HP, the four models in the 1000 Series are the most versatile standard tractor on the market. Weighing in at an agile 30,864 pounds, they can fill the row-crop and transport needs commonly delegated to a conventional tractor. An easy ballasting system gives each vehicle the potential to be loaded with up to 50% of its base weight for use in heavy draft applications typically reserved for small-frame articulated tractors.
“One key to the Challenger 1000 Series performance is an advanced step-less drivetrain called AccuDrive,™” says Keeney, “designed for high torque, independent of ground conditions, while keeping engine speed especially low.” The 1000 Series tractors reach their maximum speed of 31 mph at a fuel-saving 1,200 rpm, and deliver up to 1,770 feet-pounds of torque (model 1050) at just 1,100 rpm.
The efficient and ergonomic cab environment even ensures all controls in the cab are color-coded for function, including engine and transmission, hydraulics, PTO and electronics—an incredible advantage when training new operators.
For more information on the new Challenger 1000 Series tractors, see your nearest Challenger dealer or log on to challenger-ag.us.
“Our topography is pretty steep,” says Garry Esser about the less-than-level land he farms. “It’s a challenge, but,” he says with a grin, “you’re never bored.”
Raising a variety of crops, including wheat, barley and canola, as well as peas and pulse crops, Esser and his son John farm land in the ever-undulating Palouse region of western Idaho. It’s a tough assignment for most tractors, according to Esser, who farms on some steep slopes.
That’s one of the reasons he runs Challenger® track tractors, including an MT855. “They just stick there like glue … and they’re light and nimble,” he says.
Esser notes that with the rubber-track Challengers, “You’ve got the speed of a wheel tractor for moving up and down the road, and yet still have the benefits of the tractor sticking to the hills. And, they get power to the ground per weight like nothing I’ve ever driven.”
Due to a need to reduce compaction, weight is a particular concern for Esser. “In the spring, when we’re fighting compaction, we can lighten this tractor up … and still pull our equipment because the Challenger line has done a real good job of getting [power] to the ground.” He adds that “a lot of the competitors’ tractors weigh 60,000 pounds when they’re delivered, and you really can’t do a lot with that. That’s just heavy.”
Running just two tractors, uptime is critical for the Essers. They rely on Agri-Service in Pasco, Wash., for parts and service. “We’ve known them a long time,” Esser says. “Their guys are sharp. They’re real responsive. We’ve been very pleased with their service.”
AGCO is collaborating with Beck’s Hybrids to demonstrate yield and productivity advantages of the new Sunflower 9830NT. The 9830NT was featured at a recent Beck’s field day (Becknology Days) in Henderson, KY. Throughout the course of the day, hundreds of growers went through the Equipment Innovations class and then stopped by to look at the iron. The theme was technology-enabled productivity that is providing the most accurate seeding system for wheat, early soybeans, and double-crop soybeans.
Beck’s is very interested in plot work that will help farmers make the right decisions about agronomic inputs as well as equipment decisions. The 9830NT can put down fertilizer with wheat in the fall, which can improve yields by 5-10 bushels per acre. It is also the best drill on the market for seeding into heavy wheat residue. Alex Long of Beck’s talked about the trial work Beck’s is conducting that examines seeding accuracy at 6, 8, and 10 mph compared to a Kinze planter. Results will be available this fall.
Working with companies like Beck’s is a great way for the equipment industry to stay connected with independent agronomic testing and to be able to share our products with a diverse group of customers.
In addition to support and testing of the 9830NT, Beck’s is promoting AGCO’s X-Edition MT700E and MT800E tractors.
Beck’s has more Becknology days coming up. Follow the link below for dates in your area: http://www.beckshybrids.com/About-Us/Becks-Field-Shows.
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 http://www.myfarmlife.com/features/going-underground-irrigation-breakthroughs-in-drought-stricken-california/.