Gleaner will help bring the story of Dust Bowl recovery to audiences across the country as a major sponsor of “Harvesting the High Plains,” a film documentary. The documentary details the story of two men who began farming in 1933 in Dust Bowl–stricken western Kansas. Using never-before-attempted crop production practices, they overcame what were thought to be impossible challenges to reclaim the Plains. In 1947, they harvested one of the largest wheat crops ever raised by a single farming operation of that era.
Produced by Inspirit Creative in cooperation with Wichita Public Telecommunications, the film debuted during November at select theaters in Kansas and Nebraska. Gleaner’s sponsorship of the film documentary is a natural fit, according to Kevin Bien, Gleaner brand marketing manager with AGCO in Duluth, Ga.
“Gleaner combine harvesters were born in Nickerson, Kansas, and the innovation in these early harvesting machines is very much a part of the story told through ‘Harvesting the High Plains’,” says Bien. “This story will resonate with farmers and their families across the nation; and though the time may be different, the challenges remain today. It is a great story of farmers’ perseverance and overcoming insurmountable odds to raise a successful crop.”
Narrated by Mike Rowe, creator and host of the Discovery Channel’s “Dirty Jobs,” and directed by Colby, Kan., native Jay Kriss, “Harvesting the High Plains” brings to life the story of two men who lived in western Kansas during the 1930s. The story is told through the letters between the men that describe in detail each challenge, failure and triumph of their farming ventures — over 10,000 pieces of correspondence in all. By working with methods such as summer fallow and other dryland wheat farming techniques, the men restored the land and reclaimed the High Plains, helping to make the region the breadbasket of the world.
Gleaner was one brand that brought mechanization to the farm, helping forge change in the agriculture of that day. “The Gleaner name was very prominent throughout our research of this time, and we were thrilled to include a restored Gleaner model ‘A’ in part of the film,” says Kriss. “If you can imagine, at one point during the 1947 harvest, GK Farms had more than 130 custom-operated combines cutting on one given day.”
“Harvesting the High Plains” is currently airing on regional public television stations in the High Plains, and will air nationally on public television in early 2013. For dates and times the film documentary airs, check online at harvestingthehighplains.com.
AGCO is a proud supporter of the National FFA Organization and the National FFA Collegiate Scholarship Program. During the 2012-2013 FFA scholarship year, AGCO and 60 local Challenger, Massey Ferguson and Gleaner dealers will distribute a total of 120 scholarships in the amount of $1,000 each. The local scholarship program which AGCO launched in 2011 has seen tremendous support from dealers with four new dealerships joining the effort for the 2012-13 scholarship year.
“Our dealership has supported FFA in Idaho since the business was founded in 1990. We do so because FFA is a program that addresses the agricultural interests of young people in our communities, many of whom are going to be our top farm operators and customers in the future,” says Cleve Buttars, president/CEO, Agri-Service, a participating dealership headquartered in Twin Falls, Idaho. “AGCO couldn’t have chosen a better agricultural youth organization to support. The company’s sponsorship of local scholarships fits in perfectly with what we were already doing, giving us an additional opportunity to support these youngsters through college.”
On a national level AGCO will distribute 12 scholarships and AGCO Finance will distribute six scholarships in the amount of $2,000 each. The 2013 Scholarship application process opens online November 15, 2012, and applications must be submitted by 5:00 p.m. EST February 15, 2013. For more details on the scholarship program and a list of participating dealerships offering local scholarships, visit www.ffa.org/scholarships.
“The young men and women involved in FFA are the future of the agricultural industry and are the key to feeding the world whether they return to the family farm after college or get involved with other areas of agriculture,” says Jason Marx, vice president of marketing at AGCO. “We salute FFA for its fine work and are proud to be a part of the National FFA Collegiate Scholarship Program that recognizes and supports these students.” Through the FFA scholarship program Massey Ferguson, Challenger, and Gleaner dealers financially support students through post secondary school to help launch their careers in the agricultural industry. “Agriculture constantly faces new challenges and provides new opportunities, and these scholarship recipients are the future of our industry, thanks in part to the role FFA has played in their lives,” says Marx.
AGCO is one of FFA’s longest-standing sponsors with 2012 representing 67 years of support. During this time, AGCO has provided more than $1.2 million dollars in support of FFA, with individual dealers contributing in addition. Supporting the scholarship program is just one way the company and its employees express their appreciation for FFA and today’s youth. AGCO’s corporate involvement also includes the National FFA Convention in Indianapolis, Ind., and has a recruiting presence at the Collegiate Career Fair. Marx mentions that many AGCO employees credit FFA with helping them to develop their own skills and lifelong interest in agriculture.
Students receiving scholarships through the National FFA Collegiate Scholarship program are selected based on leadership they have shown in their schools and communities as well as academic performance. Planned majors include engineering, communications, education, business management and economics. Supervised agricultural experience programs and future goals are also taken into consideration. FFA members are trained in leadership, goal setting, consensus building, and problem solving. These students are not afraid to work and know what it means to make a profit. Collectively, FFA members earn $4 billion annually through their hands-on work experience.
For more information about AGCO and its products, visit www.AGCOcorp.com.
James Petrich, much like the other AGCO Combine Harvest Support (“Tech Van”) interns, spent his summer months helping custom harvesters and learning as much as he can about Gleaner combines and keeping them out in the field.
Being brought up in a farming family that runs Gleaner combines, James was already familiar with the advantages they had and how they worked. Being able to work on the latest combines, he was able to learn tricks and techniques that he could bring back and share with the rest of his family back at home. During his time there, James worked with people from all backgrounds to learn about electrical diagnosis’ on combines, replacing worn injectors and accelerator rollers, among other more common repairs that has helped him gain a deeper understanding of the support needed to have a successful harvest.
In addition to the technical knowledge that was learned, the interns were able to see the country like most other Americans could only dream about and hear stories from the harvesters that would shock even the extreme. The intern’s experience came with costs—12 hour work days, 7 days per week for three months.
Overall, the harvest this year was a success, even with the drought which struck much of America’s Great Plains. The Tech Van crew noticed that even with increased hours from previous years, combines had superior uptime that helped to lead to a smooth harvest. This superior uptime was attributed to higher quality from the factory and better dealership pre-delivery inspections that when combines give customers the great AGCO experience they expect.
The Tech Van crew will be heading to Kansas soon to help with the final harvest of the year. During the winter months, the crew stays at their base in Hesston, Kansas where they will review the 2012 season and plan ahead for next year.
Going over notes taken from the harvest, they decide on what parts they need to stock in the trailer and clear out parts for combines that are over the 5-year mark to make room for new models. From there, they will start the cycle all over again next Spring in Texas, with the AGCO Combine Harvest Support team leading the way to another successful harvest.
The AGCO Combine Harvest Support Team has been following the wheat run over the past few months providing support to keep them running and on schedule. Four AGCO interns have been with the Combine Harvest Support team helping and gaining valuable first-hand experience working in the agriculture industry. One of the largest surprises for the interns was how a short drive to the next farm can drastically change crop conditions and yield. “In parts of Oklahoma, some of the harvesters were saying that it was the best [harvest] they had ever seen, while others said it was one of the worst,” explained Andrew Voegeli. Due to the warm spring, the harvest started two to three weeks earlier and has progressed extremely fast this year.
The weather plays a large part in the harvest, and when the weather is ideal the custom harvesters are out in the fields for 12 to 16 hours per day. With uptime being one of the most important things during a busy harvest, the Combine Harvest Support Team has been working hard to ensure that the combines are running smoothly. When a problem does occur, speed is the name of the game, and the harvesters are very happy and appreciate what the tech van is doing to help. “For instance, the support team put on new valves for the cylinder of a downed combine. After ten minutes, they were up and running again,” said Voegeli. That’s why many custom harvesters buy AGCO branded combines like Gleaner, Massey Ferguson and Challenger; they know that the AGCO Combine Harvest Support Team will be there when they are needed the most and can even repair competitor’s machines as well.