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Innovative Storage, Handling and Tractor Solutions from AGCO

With ever-increasing pressure for greater efficiencies on the farm, Stephen Sork decided to take charge of every variable he could. In the process, he switched much of his farm equipment to AGCO brands, as well as expanding his GSI-made grain storage and handling facilities.

Not only is soil compaction reduced from use of Challenger track tractors, but Stephen and Ernie Sork (at right, respectively) also see lower fuel costs, and their crew enjoys enhanced cab comfort.

Not only is soil compaction reduced from use of Challenger track tractors, but Stephen and Ernie Sork
(at right, respectively) also see lower fuel costs, and their crew enjoys enhanced cab comfort.

Steve, who owns and operates Sork Farms in southeast Illinois with his father, Ernie, likes the ability to do nearly everything—planting, harvesting, spraying and fertilizing—in-house. These days, AGCO tractors and sprayers are integral to making it all happen.

A former Deere customer, Steve first tried a Challenger track tractor nearly 10 years ago and was sold on the concept and the results. “We really liked them,” says Steve. “Their ability to reduce compaction in our 20-inch rows has meant no emergence issues with corn or soybeans.”

Steve, who owns six Challenger tractors and two RoGator® 1100 sprayers, says he’s also seen a savings in total fuel use, as well as increased comfort. “These machines are a really smooth ride over rough terrain, whether going over a ditch or working through washouts.”

The quest for greater efficiency and control, however, didn’t end with tractors and sprayers. Over the past 10 years, the Sorks have nearly doubled the storage and handling capacity on their farm.

In addition to stronger bin designs from GSI that can be built taller than previous models, their system features GSI En-Masse conveyors and a Hi-Flight pit conveyor. Now, the Sorks’ handling system moves grain faster and with less damage than augers or air systems.

For more, CLICK HERE to see the whole story on the Sork operation at http://www.myfarmlife.com/features/storing-profits-on-the-farm/.

Storing Profits on the Farm

Stephen Sork knew from the time he was in fifth grade that working on the farm—being with his father, Ernie, grandfather, Marshall, and uncle, Vernon Gwaltney—was the life for him. “Dad and my uncle always let me help out,” says Steve, still a youthful-looking 45. “I loved it.”

Stephen Sork

Stephen Sork

What goes around comes around. Now Steve and wife, Amy, can foresee the day when their children might want to be a part of their Fairfield, Ill.-based Sork Farms. Their five children are all waiting in the wings.

Generally, producers who want to accommodate additional generations have to grow, monitor expenses and maximize income. Steve, who is now partner in the operation with Ernie, is doing all the above.

For instance, during the past few years the two Sorks grew commodity corn, soybeans and wheat—with an occasional small foray into specialty crops, such as food-grade corn—on about 5,500 acres. That’s nearly double what they were farming 10 years ago.

In addition to farming more acreage, income growth has also come by watching markets. To hold their grain until the price is right, the Sorks have 500,000 bushels worth of storage, enough to hold 75% of the corn they harvest in an average year. Half that capacity was added methodically over the past decade.

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Bringing Storage Technology to Life in Mkushi, Zambia

By Louisa Parker, Manager External Affairs, Africa & Middle East

central province_b2b_demo

In June Bags2Bulk held its first demonstration day showcasing the bulk storage technology to grain traders. GSI Africa and the installation team worked tirelessly to have the demo unit ready for the event held In Mkushi which was well attended. It was great to see the response of the traders now that they have been able to see and touch the technology as the project team was pleased to receive the local Agricultural Commissioner Mr. Luka Mwamba as guest of honour at the event.

This is the first of several demonstration events that will take place at five locations throughout Central and Eastern province in Zambia during the course of the pilot. The team is now following up on a number of sales leads and GSI is now looking at several candidates to take forward the role of sales assistant to support the project.

Speaking at the event, the Commissioner noted that he had seen the GSI technology and was impressed by what he’d seen.  He said “previously, this technology has only been available to large commercial farmers.  I am pleased that now this is available to farmers and traders both large and small.”  While he praised the technology, he was quick to state that the government supports the Bags2Bulk initiative and encourages other players in the agriculture industry to come on board.  Still, he cautioned “Of course nothing comes for free.  Financing will be key to accessing this technology.  It is good to see the banks here today.  My message to you is work hard to develop a finance solution so that the farmers can take advantage of this new technology.”  To the traders, he reminded them that farming is a business not a charity.  In closing, the Commissioner said “we look forward to seeing many shiny new silos on the small scale farms across Mkushi district in the months to come”.

For more information about upcoming Bags2Bulk events, please contact Louisa Parker:  louisa.parker@agcocorp.com.

Mkushi’s Agricultural Commissioner, Mr Luka Mwamba shakes hands with Louisa Parker of AGCO.  To their right, they are joined by Musika Central Region Manager, Mr. Mabvuto Chisi.

Mkushi’s Agricultural Commissioner, Mr Luka Mwamba shakes hands with Louisa Parker of AGCO. To their right, they are joined by Musika Central Region Manager, Mr. Mabvuto Chisi.

AGCO Bag2Bulk Roadshow Kicks Off in Central Province, Zambia

By Louisa Parker, Manager External Affairs, Africa & Middle East

Central Province Bag2Bulk roadshow - March 2014 018

To support AGCO’s new partnership with USAID on the Feed the Future Partnering for Innovation project in Africa, the first kickoff Bags2Bulk Roadshow event was held in May and attended by grain traders from Central Province in Zambia.  Working with our Zambian distributor GSI Africa and local partners Musika and Ybema Grain Services, we were able to share details of the Bags2Bulk project and educate the traders on the benefits of moving from bagged storage for maize and soya to bulk storage via the GSI technology.  Benefits will not only be gained by the mid-size trader, but pass along to the small farmer as well – in the forms of reduced grain loss and better grain quality for longer storage periods allowing the trader to sell when the timing is optimal.

Traders received short presentations from a number of supporting organisations including two of the largest grain commodity traders in Zambia. The larger traders are keen to see this shift from bag to bulk as it also improves the efficiency of their operations. Ultimately, it means they can buy and sell more maize in a season also. For smallholders, the benefits are threefold 1) improved connections to the market, 2) greater transparency on pricing, 3) being able to recycle their grain bags and use them more than once.

Of course, we learned as much from the traders as they learned from us.  We got a much better understanding of the challenges they have with logistics, commissioning trucks, aggregating the harvested maize from the small holders and trading their harvest in time to hit the trading season all while monitoring the quality of the grain they are trading.  All of these aspects can be improved by moving to bulk storage and adding a portable auger.  Additionally, they’ll enjoy the added bonus of dramatically reducing post-harvest losses which continues to plague Africa today.

Next stop, Mkushi, Zambia.  Central Province Bag2Bulk roadshow - March 2014 013

AGCO Partners with USAID to Introduce New Technologies to Zambia

Louisa Parker from AGCO kicks off first Bag2Bulk roadshow with the Mkushi District Commissioner Mr Luka Mwamba and Mabvuto Chisi from Musika.

Louisa Parker from AGCO kicks off first Bag2Bulk roadshow with the Mkushi District Commissioner Mr Luka Mwamba and Mabvuto Chisi from Musika.

AGCO is pleased to announce that we’ve partnered with USAID on a project  in Africa. USAID’s Feed the Future Partnering for Innovation program, the U.S. government’s global hunger and food security initiative which supports country-driven approaches to address the root causes of hunger and poverty. Through this Presidential initiative, the United States is helping countries transform their own agricultural sectors to grow enough food to sustainably feed their people. The idea is to take new technology into new markets. In this project, called Bag2Bulk, AGCO will be introducing GSI Africa (our local GSI distributor) to mid-sized grain traders in Zambia.

To complement AGCO’s current long-term vision in Zambia, over the next 18 months, AGCO and our partners will hold select activities at the AGCO Future Farm in Lusaka. These events will provide education and demonstrate the benefits of our GSI storage technology. Additionally, topics by our partners will cover grain marketing best practices, financing and more. The goal is to sell a minimum of 40 metal grain silos to grain traders in Zambia which will benefit some 12,000 smallholder farmers who represent 80% of the maize production in the country. Since current on-farm storage options and off farm facilities are sub-optimal resulting in annual post-harvest losses of over 30% from insect, rodent and rot, the grain quality of will not only improve overall trade prices, but will allow traders to handle cereal crops more effectively, store for longer periods of time and sell when prices are optimal.

AGCO’s project partners are:

  • Musika is a Zambian non-profit company that works to stimulate private sector investment in the smallholder market.
  • Sierk Ybema Grain Services is a grain management training and development provider.
  • GSI Africa, our local GSI distributor.

Look for updates following these exciting events from Louisa Parker, Manager External Affairs, Africa & Middle East.