Started in 2002 by two Washington state producers, Shepherd’s Grain now includes about 60 wheat growers, mainly in the Northwestern U.S., with a few growers located as far away as Southern California and the Canadian Prairie. Although they’ve begun offering some of the milled grain at the retail level, the vast majority of what the group sells is to bakeries in Portland and Seattle. In 2015, the Shepherd’s Grain farmers produced a total of 673,000 bushels of wheat, a growth of about 720% since 2005.
“It really started,” says Mike Moran, the Shepherd’s Grain general manager, “when a lot of growers in our region realized that the way that the land had been farmed over the last few decades was not sustainable long term. In fact, because of wind and water erosion, particularly in the hilly areas of the Palouse, they were losing topsoil at a rate that meant that their families wouldn’t be able to continue to farm there if they kept doing what they were doing.”
To combat the losses, as well as improve soil health, Shepherd’s Grain farmers often work together, sharing information on what’s worked for them and what hasn’t. As a result, many have minimized, if not eliminated, tillage. For instance, Garry Esser and his son John use rotational and cover crops, and say they only till the ground every three to six years, unlike their previous practice of churning up the ground almost annually.
In addition to farming methods, Shepherd’s Grain also promotes a business model that is sustainable. Selling to bakeries via longer-term contracts, the group of farmers not only forge business relationships, but build bridges between different groups of people who often do not have much contact with each other.
“It’s really about … connecting farmers with consumers … and without that,” continues Moran, “we wouldn’t have that information flow from the consumer back to the farmer, and on the other side, really helping the consumer understand all of the complexity of farming.”
“The end users who have bought into Shepherd’s Grain have done so for a variety of reasons,” says John Esser, a Challenger customer who recently became a partner with his dad. “But I’d say at the top of the list is they’ve loved the relationship that they have with the growers.
“You know, for so many people, you go to the store, you buy bread, you go home, you eat it. Nobody really connects the farmer to the bread,” continues the younger Esser. “Shepherd’s Grain offers an opportunity for people to know the information behind where their food comes from.”
For more about how AGCO customers are involved with Shepherd’s Grain from our exclusive customer magazine, FarmLife, see http://www.myfarmlife.com/features/shepherds-grain-bridges-built-alliances-forged/.
While the skies above may look ominous in this picture, the tractors and equipment were in for a day of hard work ahead. Several weeks ago in American Falls, Idaho, AGCO dealer Agri-Service, LLC had its first of a series of events called Fall Tillage days. This is a chance for their customers and prospects get behind the wheel of our tractors and demonstrate them along with our tillage equipment. “In attendance at this particular event were approximately 18 guests representing about 8 local farm operations,” said Adam Hubbard, Marketing Manager at Agri-Service.
Available to demo were a Challenger MT685 pulling a Sunflower 4511 Disc Chisel, a Challenger MT765 pulling a Sunflower 1436 Disc Harrow, and a Challenger MT865 pulling a Sunflower 4630 Disc Ripper. Everyone in attendance was able to demonstrate each of these machines and Agri-Service salesmen as well as AGCO Product Specialists were on-hand to answer questions and point out key features of the equipment and highlight their benefits. All were able to easily demonstrate the ability to till under the crop residue while leaving an impressive finish.
As these machines were parked on a well-traveled road prior to the start of the day, there were some walk-ups inquiring about the impressive display including the static Gleaner Super Series S88 which was prominently showcased as well.
“We had positive feedback from all of the customers that attended. All were able to operate the equipment and were impressed by the tractors as well as the performance of each tillage piece. Some of them had used Sunflower [before] and some hadn’t,” stated Hubbard. When asked if anything in particular stood out to the guests, Hubbard replied, “the SF 4630, the big disc ripper and it performed very well in addition to the incredible ability and performance of the MT865 tractor.”
Agri-Service has three more upcoming Fall Tillage events in October. To learn more, click here.
Massey Ferguson, a worldwide brand of AGCO (NYSE: AGCO), is focused on developing straightforward, intelligent farm machinery with broad appeal in the quest to increase crop yields and produce higher quality food with less assets.
Giving details on the brand’s outlook to 6,000 visitors at the company’s Vision of the Future event in Beauvais, France, Thierry Lhotte, Vice President Marketing, Massey Ferguson Europe/Africa/Middle East remarked: “To produce more from less, bio- and agri-technology will need to work together to achieve the necessary increases in food production to feed the world’s growing population. At the same time, farmers will need to strike a balance between a profitable business and a sustainable environment. Farm machinery must deliver a good return on their investment.”
He explained that in order to boost production, the three key challenges for farmers were the soil; environment and sustainability; and information and integration. A further major issue was the pressing need to encourage young people into agriculture.
“Soil is a key asset. It has to sustain crop growth, support larger loads to enable mechanisation, and permit infiltration and storage of water. In order to preserve soil and tackle the problems of compaction, erosion, water and nutrient management, a farmer will need to be more of an agronomist than ever before,” said Thierry.
“On the subject of environment and sustainability, the important areas are selection of the correct seed varieties, detailed land surveying and the optimum use of fertiliser which must come from the right source and be applied at the right rate, at the right time in the right place,” he continued.
“The entire food chain – from production to distribution – will benefit from increased information and integration. Collection and analysis of data from the field, for example, are crucial to develop optimum crop strategies and make the most of available land.”
“The entry of young people into farming is essential for agricultural security and must be encouraged,” Thierry emphasised. “The percentage of farms operated by under 35- year-olds in the EU is just 6%. Research has shown that farmers under 35 are one third more productive than their older counterparts.”
He then went on to give an insight into farm equipment developments of the future. “While power will continue to increase, ever-bigger monster machines are not the only solution,” he remarked. “Tractors below 100hp still account for 90% of the market in Africa and Middle East, 75% in Russia and just over half in Europe. The new farmer generation will continue to rely on these machines as all-round workhorses.”
“At Massey Ferguson, our aim is to produce dependable machines with broad appeal across all farm types. While they are straightforward, these machines are also smart – employing the most appropriate mechanisation and technology to suit a huge diversity of needs,” he said.
“Worldwide, the major trends are for modular and versatile machines, more comfort, ease-of-use and low cost of ownership. For emerging markets, the key issues are ease-of-use and repair, automation and connectivity, fuel efficiency and the requirement for engines to be less sensitive to fuel quality.” Looking further ahead, Thierry revealed some exciting ideas that could develop into the tractors of the future such as modular units with ‘add-on’ power units which could be used elsewhere on the farm for electricity supply. He also showed examples of tool carriers, master/slave concepts, hybrid/hydrogen engines, four-wheel-steer and an immersive cab.
“At Massey Ferguson, we don’t believe in technology simply for technology’s sake. Machinery is a big outlay and any engineering developments must provide farmers with a good return on their investment and help boost efficiency,” he said. “We will continue to stay close to our customers, listen to their ideas and ensure that our solutions are consistent with their expectations for farming in the real world.”
Another Farm Progress Show has come and gone, and what an accomplishment it was! This year visitors noticed something different on the AGCO lot. We turned the entire AGCO lot into a scaled-down version of a farm to demonstrate new ways to tackle the complex challenges of farming. We offered up the latest innovations from our brands, plus we showed how to get more from your operations using AGCO’s next-generation approach to precision ag technology.
Massey Ferguson, a worldwide brand of AGCO (NYSE: AGCO), has celebrated the launch of an ambitious mission to drive a tractor to the Geographical South Pole, the fulfillment of a dream for a Dutch theatre maker that also aims to inspire others to dare to dream.
Antarctica2 follows in the footsteps of Sir Edmund Hillary, who drove a specially adapted Ferguson TE20 to the South Pole in 1958.
But the 2014 mission, which departs Cape Town on 15th September for the 2350km journey, has enlisted the help of leading industry partners to take a wheeled tractor to Antarctica for the first time.
The MF 5610, modified by the engineering team at AGCO’s Beauvais tractor plant, will be driven by Manon Ossevoort, better known as Tractor Girl, who has already driven a tractor from her childhood home in the Netherlands to South Africa.
“It was my dream to drive a tractor to the end of the world, and I was inspired by Sir Edmund Hillary’s mission,” Manon explains, “I found that along the way my journey inspired other people to talk about their own dreams, so I set about collecting these dreams with the goal of taking them to the South Pole with me.”
When her original mission – which was undertaken largely with only local support –ended with Manon unable to make the final leg to Antarctica, she remained convinced that she had to finish it. She approached Massey Ferguson via its distributor in Holland, Mechatrac, and was assured of the company’s commitment to help her follow her dreams.
Support for Antarctica2 will be provided by partners including Massey Ferguson, Trelleborg, Castrol, AGCO Finance, AGCO Parts and Fuse Technologies. There are still opportunities for additional partners to join this exciting project, which will reach a global audience.
Richard Markwell, Vice President and Managing Director of Massey Ferguson EAME,who handed over the keys to the MF 5600 to Manon in a special ceremony at Beauvais, said: “I congratulate our Engineering Project Manager Olivier Hembert and his team, who worked in their spare time, along with AGCO Power in Finland, to adapt the tractor for conditions that are probably the toughest in the world.”
“As John F Kennedy said about the mission to the moon in 1962 – ‘We choose to do these things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.’ This is Massey Ferguson, wanting to take on a challenge and work in the spirit to achieve not only easy things, but challenging things. On behalf of AGCO and the full team of sponsors, I wish Manon and her straightforward, dependable MF 5610 a safe and exciting journey to the South Pole.”
Expedition specialists Arctic Trucks will provide guidance and safety support with the help of two Toyota four- and six-wheel drive pick-up trucks, and has worked closely with Trelleborg and Massey Ferguson to develop tyre technology for the mission.
Gudmundur Gudjonsson, Arctic Trucks Project Manager for Antarctica explains: “Tyres are more efficient than tracks in this kind of expedition, being capable of higher forward speeds and using less fuel. They also provide suspension, which is beneficial to the environment as well as the vehicle and the driver.”
Under Arctic Trucks guidance, MF 5600 tractors have undergone extensive cold weather testing, while the expedition team has received polar training, including guidance from seasoned polar explorers Matty McNair and her daughter Sarah McNair-Landry who will be key team members for Antarctica2.
A technical support specialist and former Massey Ferguson photographic specialist Simon Foster complete the team.
The expedition will call on not only the straightforward and dependable engineering of the MF 5610 to endure temperatures down to minus 40deg centigrade, altitude of 3400m and deep, soft snow, but also AGCO’s impressive parts and technical capability.
Up to 1000kg of parts will be carried on the mission, a twice daily maintenance regime adhered to, and the Agcommand™ telematics system will relay performance information back to a 24 hour support team in Beauvais.
The latest broadcast and social media technology will also be employed in stark contrast to when Sir Edmund Hillary’s arrival at the South Pole was marked by at telegram of thanks to Harry Ferguson. Live streaming and regular updates via a dedicated website will keep the rest of the world in touch with the mission’s progress.When the MF 5610, with its Tractor Girl and her cargo of dreams on board, arrives at the South Pole around 7th December, it will be a testimony to the work of all the partners in the Antarctica2 project and their tireless commitment to its message – #BelieveInIt