Quite possibly better educated and prepared than any generation before them, young producers still face major challenges in getting off the ground. For this FarmLife Special Report, we asked several young farmers about their challenges and goals, then listened as each spoke of hard lessons learned, their passion for farming and hopes for the future.
Three families are featured in profile stories and video interviews: the Skobergs, who grow peas, wheat and canola on Twin Oaks Farm in Lougheed, Alberta; the Robertses, who farm and run a fencing and custom gate business in Pittsylvania County, Virginia; and the Boeres, whose dairy operation is in Modesto, California. Each has a unique story to tell, including the innovative ways they have made a life and a living on the farm.
To go along with the family profiles, the Young Farmers Special Report includes advice from parents, resources to help young and new farmers, a look back at our previous special report and more.
In the article “Raising Farmers,” father Jerry McDonald and son Jon—now a father himself—offer advice on preparing the next generation for a career in agriculture. You’ll also read about how the National Young Farmers Coalition works to connect beginning farmers with resources, such as information on loans and subsidies.
See the entire special report, including video interviews: Young Farmers: Growing Their Future And Ours
167 farm workers are injured on a farm and a worker dies in a farm accident EVERY DAY.
38 children are injured on a farm EVERY DAY and a child dies in a farm accident EVERY THREE DAYS.
Farm safety is important to every farmer and operator. AGCO® works hard to deliver safe equipment and operating instructions on how to use our equipment most effectively. In recognition of National Farm Safety and Health week AGCO offers the following guidelines to help make sure EVERYONE stays safe during harvest:
- Manual and Safety Signs. Read your operator’s manual and safety sign information. They are packed with information to help you be more productive, increase the life of your equipment and keep you, your family, and workers safe.
- Maintenance. Keep all machinery serviced and maintained properly.
- Guards. Make sure all guards and shields are in place and secure.
- Turn the machine off when not operating. Put equipment in neutral or park, engage parking brake and turn off engine before dismounting. Wait until all mechanisms have stopped moving before attempting to service or unclog a machine.
- Working under the machine. Lock hydraulic cylinders or support the head prior to working.
- Crop Debris. Make sure all crop debris is removed at frequent intervals to reduce potential fire hazards and possible equipment damage.
- Fire Extinguishers. Keep and maintain suitable fire extinguishers on your combine. Make sure they are accessible from the ground.
- Children. Create a Safe Play Area for children on the farm that has effective adult supervision and safe play activities for children. Equipment cabs are not safe play areas.
- Bystanders. Keep bystanders and others away from the equipment operation area.
- Blind spots. Make sure the area behind the combine is clear before backing.
- Riders? Limit riders on equipment! Instructional seats are designed for training or diagnosing machine problems.
- Seat belts. Wear seat belts. ANYONE in the cab should have his or her seatbelt fastened. Do not lean against the windshield or rely on it to keep you in the cab.
- ROPS. Have rollover protective structures fitted on tractors.
- Towing. Always use safety chains for towed equipment.
- SMV. Always use a slow moving vehicle sign and flashing amber warning lights on public roads.
- Road Safety. Never travel left of the center of the road after dark, during poor visibility or when approaching the top of a hill or a curve.
- Stay alert. Be physically and mentally fit when operating machinery. Fatigue, stress, medication, alcohol and drugs can detract from safe equipment operation. Take breaks.
- Training. Train all operators to safely operate the equipment.
1 2012 Data from CDC website: https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/aginjury/
2 2014 Fact Sheet, National Children’s Center for Rural and Agricultural Health and Safety
For more information see the following websites:
Southland, NZ farmer Mark Dillon’s new Massey Ferguson 9560 combine harvester has sped up his harvesting operation considerably and cut down on the amount of labour he needs.
Mark and his wife Sonia took possession of the MF 9560 in February to use on their Riversdale cropping farm and their contracting business, MJ and SE Dillon.
The Dillons looked at several other brands of harvester before settling on the Massey Ferguson and they have not looked back since.
“We started harvesting on 10th of February and have done close to 600 hectares of barley, wheat and oats with it,” Mark says.
“It’s been really good. We had extra grain this year and we needed extra capacity. We wouldn’t have got the harvest finished without it.”
Mark had previously been harvesting with his MF 865, which was used together with his brother James’ MF 750.
The MF 9560 features a 12,333 litre (9.75 tonne) grain tank, which Mark says can be fully unloaded in less than one-and-a-half minutes. His old MF 865 could only unload 4.5 tonnes in three to four minutes.
“The new 9560 has really sped up the harvesting. One day we did 30 hectares, which was 350 tonnes in an afternoon. We could’ve done that before but we would’ve used both headers and had more staff and tractors and trailers and it would’ve been a big day.”
Mark says the 9560 has done a great job on his wheat, barley and oat crops.
“They have been big wheat crops that we are putting through that have gone flat but it’s handling the straw well,” he says.
“Some of the wheat was 23 percent moisture plus, and it went through the harvester alright. Some people were sceptical about how a rotary would go down in Southland because of the wet but it is handling the conditions no problems. We’ve headed in the rain for 10-15 minutes and it still handled it.”
The MF 9560 is also doing a good job on flat barley crops. Mark says autumn barley crops have been 9-10 tonnes per hectare, which is no trouble for the harvester.
“We’re down to 480 revs with the barley and it’s still threshing the grain out and leaving the crop in reasonable condition for baling,” he says.
“For oats I went through the factory settings and modified it to suit and the sample is good.”
Mark is a particular fan of the MF 9560’s Flex front, which follows the contours of the ground well.
“Some of our country is quite undulating. The harvester follows the ground contours pretty well. That was my concern going from a 16-foot front to 30-foot, but it’s following the rolling ground pretty well,” he says.
“The front lifts up four foot high for moving paddocks so you don’t have to take it off, which also saves time.”
The MF 9560 is built strong. It has minimal moving parts so it is simple to operate, and it is easily adaptable to multiple crops. It features auto lube and V-Cool, which keeps the engine and radiator clean, making it easy to service.
Mark says his new combine is reliable, has plenty of power for big jobs and has good fuel efficiency, with a simple efficient rotor drive.
“It does everything you need from a modern combine but it’s not too complicated. It only has nine belts and three chains on the whole machine and it’s built with plenty of steel,” he says.
The MF 9560 has also been designed with comfort in mind. The quiet, airconditioned cab is well laid out and easy to navigate, with operator foot rests for long days in the cab.
Access to all functions are carried out through a touch screen, with frequent adjustments having an additional dedicated out-of-screen adjustment source. Guidance runs on the same screen.
When Al Sheahan purchased a 12-row corn head last year to replace the six-row head on his combine, he had more than increased capacity in mind. He was also taking one more step toward implementing a controlled traffic farming (CTF) program and reducing compaction on the 2,800 acres he farms in partnership with neighbor Todd Myren near Nelson, Wis.
CTF systems, which have been more prevalent in Canada, Europe and Australia, are now gaining additional converts in the U.S., and for good reason. Research in tilled soils shows approximately 75 to 80% of the increase in soil density and 90% of wheel sinkage—both of which can ultimately limit plant growth—are caused during the first pass. However, CTF can limit the compacted area to less than 15% of a given field, compared to more than 50% from some uncontrolled traffic systems.
The benefit is to a farmer’s bottom line. Australian research over 20 years has shown CTF can improve grain quality and has the potential to increase grain yields by 2 to 16%.
There are other benefits, including improving fuel and other input efficiencies. Yet, CTF often requires an investment of time and money on the front end. For instance, Sheahan and Myren have purchased a variety of equipment that allows them to confine their footprint to the fewest traffic lanes. “Because all of our machines are set up for GPS-guided autosteering on an RTK system, we can use the same wheel tracks for just about every pass,” says Sheahan.
“A lot of our equipment already fits a 30-foot pattern, so the combine was just the next step,” Sheahan says of the Massey Ferguson® 8780 he bought used. “We try to plant no-till as much as we can and limit any other tillage to vertical tillage or a field cultivator. Still, our tillage equipment is 30 feet wide; our 12-row planter covers 30 feet; the sprayer covers 60 feet; and our RoGator,® which we use to apply liquid nitrogen, spans 90 feet.
“We have everything set up for 30-inch rows, with four rows between the tires on just about every machine,” he explains. “We realize, of course, that there will be more compaction on those wheel-track rows, but at least it will be limited to those rows.”
For more advice on how to limit compaction, including how to set tire pressure and the benefits of the front-axle suspension system on Massey Ferguson and other AGCO equipment, see http://www.myfarmlife.com/advantage/fighting-compaction-tread-lightly/.
Massey Ferguson, a worldwide brand of AGCO (NYSE: AGCO), has introduced the innovative Harvest Promise compensation scheme for operators of current production MF combines.
In the event of eligible MF combines being immobilised due to non-delivery of critical parts within 24 hours, the scheme compensates the customer should a contractor or replacement machine need to be hired to continue the harvest. Under the scheme, a refund of 35 Euros/ha will be made to the customer up to a maximum total of 3,500 Euros.