Busy Central Otago contractor David O’Neill has a fleet of eight Massey Ferguson and seven Fendt tractors, but tractors are not the only AGCO machinery his business runs. He also has four Massey Ferguson square balers and a Massey Ferguson telehandler.
David O’Neill Contracting Ltd is based at Omarama and offers a range of services from baling, to spreading to cultivation and direct drilling.
His newest big square baler is a Massey Ferguson 2250 TPC bought last season. It’s his fourth MF baler, and it makes 875mm x 880mm bales.
The TPC stands for tandem (axle) and packer cutter. This is the first baler David’s had with a packer cutter. Instead of a rotor feeding the crop into the chamber it has a packer.
David says a rotor works fine for round balers because they need a continuous flow of crop, but a square baler packs in the grass, compresses it, and then picks up more crops. Therefore it works better without a continuous flow.
“A rotor does a beautiful job when conditions are perfect, but not so good when you are outside the window. A packer copes better with variations in a crop.”
David likes the simplicity of his MF balers. “It’s a nice simple baler. If anything goes wrong, it’s easy to fix. Some of the European balers have fancy drive shafts and clutches and are more complicated with more things to go wrong. We like to keep things simple up here.”
For 90 percent of its life the MF 2250 TPC makes baleage from grass or lucerne. It does a tiny bit of straw and hay and all up makes about 10,000 bales per season.
The operator sets the bale density from the cab, but other than that the baler sorts itself out. It beeps when it has tied the bale and beeps as it is ejected.
Square balers aren’t renowned for their stability, but the tandem axle makes a big difference. “The tandem is really good. It sticks to the side of the hill better. We pull the MF 2250 with a Fendt 818.”
David also has an older model MF 2150T baler. It is packer baler with no cutter.
“It’s a good simple baler and easy to operate. This last year it was on straw duty and made about 3000 bales.”
Another recent piece of kit is the Massey Ferguson telehandler that David bought in autumn 2015. He already had two telehandlers, which he used to load the wrapper and fert trucks, but the workshop boys also wanted one.
A salesman from JJs in Timaru dropped off the MF 9407S telehandler for them to try and it never left. Its main job now is loading the bale wrapper during the season, while one of the older telehandlers is busy unloading trucks at the workshop and any other lifting job required in a busy workplace.
The MF 9407S is 130hp with a max lift of 3.5 tonnes up to 7.0m. It has hydrostatic transmission with two speed ranges – paddock and road.
There are three ways to steer it: two wheel, four-wheel steer and crab. Most of the time David and his crew have it in four-wheel steer for easy manoeuvring, but occasionally in tight spots it’s in crab to go sideways.
It has plenty of safety features with a roll over cab roof and protection from falling items. It has a series of lights on the dash indicating safe position for the load. If a load is approaching a dangerous position, the lights approach the red, and the driver has time to change their mind.
David has bought all his AGCO equipment from JJs Timaru. He says it is actually hard to judge the quality of the back-up service JJs provides as nothing seems to go wrong with their products.
“They rarely come out here as we don’t seem to need it. But when we bought something completely different, like the telehandler, then they came out to show us all the things on it.”
David and Prue O’Neill have 16 tractors and 10 trucks driving their Central Otago business, David O’Neill Contracting Ltd. They include eight Massey Ferguson and seven Fendt tractors, all from JJs Timaru.
David O’Neill Contracting is based at Omarama and with their fleet of tractors they provide a full range of services including cultivation, baling, silage, direct drilling and mulching. At the height of the season they employ up to 22 staff.
David grew up on a farm in the North Island and his father always had Massey Ferguson, so naturally that was the first tractor he bought.
“I started contracting when I was 16. I had two tractors when I was still at school.”
Since then he’s owned more than 20 ‘Fergies’.
His oldest is a 2002 MF 8240. It’s 180hp and has worked 13,000 hours. “I keep it because it is a good old, simple tractor. I don’t use it much now, but it can do anything, and it’s a back up.”
Another Massey Ferguson they use as a back-up tractor is a 2008 MF 7495. It used to run the triple mowers, but now it tows a heavy roller and does some discing.
The newest is a 2015 MF 7618 with a Dyna-6 transmission. It spends most of its life pulling a four-rotor rake.
The three latest – the MF 7618 and two MF 7622 feature the latest SCR technology to cut exhaust emissions and improve fuel economy, and David says they are as fuel efficient as his Fendts.
He started buying Fendt tractors about 10 years ago. “They are supposed to be the best, so we trialled one and kept it for six years. Then we got another.”
For several years in a row he added one or two more to his fleet.
David says he likes the reliability and the comfort of his Fendt tractors, as well as the 50 kph road speed. His drivers travel up to 110 km to get to clients, so that road speed matters. And the Vario transmissions in the Fendt tractors make every job easier.
“Drivers generally stay with the same tractor, and adjust it to suit themselves. They also save the settings for particular implements.”
David O’Neill Contracting’s clients are mostly sheep and beef farmers with paddocks on the flats. The paddocks are usually quite large, which means David has wide implements such as a 5.0m direct drill. The heavy work is done with the four large Fendt tractors, which are 240hp-270 hp.
The oldest one is a 2010 Fendt 818.
“It does a bit of mulching, and we might chuck it on the square balers or the triple mowers. It runs the cultivator drill and it weighs 6.5 tonnes empty.”
Recent additions include a Fendt 824 and Fendt 927. The 927 runs the 5.0m direct drill for most of the year, putting in up to 3000 ha. During winter it switches to the 4.5m cultivator.
Hydraulic oil flow is 120 litres/min, which is more than enough for anything David needs.
“Three of our drills are air seeders and all have hydraulic fans. The fans can be going 14 to 16 hours a day and the Fendts handle all that hydraulic power as good as gold.”
Another plus is the comfort of Fendt cabs, which makes life easier for all drivers.
“Fendts have the most comfortable cabs out of all the tractors I have ever owned or driven. The 900 Series models are far superior with its independent front suspension. It is so good that you want to keep going,” David says.
“The cab is so quiet that when I ring the guys on the phone, it seems to be too quiet for them to be working.”
Three of the Fendt have SCR systems to reduce exhaust emissions and gain corresponding savings in fuel. “Our drill man goes three days on a tank.”
All of the Fendt tractors have front linkages, which are used to run the triple mowers, push-off stacker or for carrying front weights.
“You can drive a Fendt and not worry about the computer stuff and settings. You just drive it like a manual car. It’s easy to get a driver started on them, and then teach them the fancy stuff later.
“They don’t need to know it at the beginning. You don’t need to be an astronaut to drive a Fendt. I am still learning about them and guys driving them three years or more are still discovering new things they can do,” David concludes.
With the introduction last winter of the new world-class Massey Ferguson 4700 Series tractors, the industry finally has a utility tractor designed for heavier and larger implements, draft work and demanding applications that require more strength and power.
Now, Massey Ferguson is once again turning heads with the new 4700 Series cab, which was introduced just a few months ago. “This will offer greater comfort and extended use to many more customers who operate in less-than-ideal conditions,” says Warren Morris, AGCO tactical marketing manager, under 100-HP tractors. “Compared to other utility tractor cabs in the industry, it is not only larger, but even quieter.”
The new cabs feature a design based on larger-model tractors. The result is a utility tractor with mid-range comfort. As proof, the 4700 Series cab boasts 96.4 cubic feet of cab volume, compared to 89.2 cubic feet from one of the tractor’s major competitors.
In addition, Morris explains, the 4700 Series cab registers a quiet 75 decibels, which is actually lower than the average telephone dial tone. “A quieter cab and roomier operator environment equates to less fatigue at the end of a long workday,” he says.
The new cab will be available in two versions—Classic and Deluxe. Both will offer unmatched visibility and a console that conveniently groups all major controls on the right-hand side of the operator’s seat. However, the Deluxe version also includes a mechanical swiveling seat with armrests, a tilt and telescopic steering column, internal mirror, telescopic large side mirrors, and a rear wiper and washer. Options on both versions include an instructor seat and front fenders that pivot with the front wheels.
“With the introduction of a brand-new utility series in the 4700 Series and the update of our existing utility offering in the 4600M Series, Massey Ferguson now covers the utility tractor market more comprehensively than any other competitor,” Morris concludes.
For more information on the Massey Ferguson 4700 Series tractors or the new 4700 Series global cab, see your nearest Massey Ferguson dealer or visit online at masseyferguson.us.
In popcorn parlance, “old maids” are kernels that fail to pop. Devoted fans of the Tiny But Mighty brand learn about that and other kernels of popped corn wisdom when Gene Mealhow promotes his product as “Farmer Gene” in Whole Foods stores and at events across the country.
While his family left farming in 1989 during the farm crisis, Mealhow got back into production agriculture in 1990. The fourth-generation farmer bought 33 acres of the family’s land—all that he could afford—near Shellsburg, Iowa.
“I wanted to farm,” he says, walking into the former farrowing house where Lynn, his wife, and Mark Kluber, his brother-in-law, are packaging corn. Gene’s sister-in-law, Lori Kluber, and niece, Ashley Arp, also work for the family popcorn business. The Mealhows’ four sons, with careers in other fields, love to come home and help out when they can, too.
“If I was going to be a successful farmer on my small acreage, I knew I had to do something different,” Mealhow continues, taking his leave of packing and walking to the cornfield in front of his home. At first, he says, he tried growing tofu beans and herbs. “I went cold turkey not using chemicals and failed miserably,” he admits, chuckling. He eventually settled on “biologically based” growing methods, focusing on soil nutrients and soil balancing.
In addition to the 33-acre homestead Mealhow cultivates, “We have four contract farmers,” he says, all within a 75-mile radius, which allows Mealhow to be on hand during planting and harvest. On his acreage, Mealhow uses a 300 Massey Ferguson® combine, as well as an Allis Chalmers 185 tractor, both of which Mealhow says are wonderfully reliable.
The crux of Tiny But Mighty’s sales comes from retail outlets, such as Whole Foods Market, Fareway and Hy-Vee stores. “Most big popcorn companies are selling 10 million pounds of popcorn a year,” he says. “Our goal is to hit between 2 million to 3 million pounds this year. So in the world of popcorn, we are teeny tiny.” He adds, “But we’re growing.”
Danny Kornegay isn’t afraid to try new things.
Raising hogs, tobacco, sweet potatoes, cotton, watermelons, peanuts, soybeans corn and more, his 5,500-acre operation is about as diversified as a farm can realistically be. Danny even partnered with four other producers to build their own cotton gin and warehouse 26 years ago. Yet this year he’s made a new addition—asparagus.
Danny, 62, concedes he is no expert on asparagus. Fortunately, he and his family—his wife, Susie; son, Dan; and daughter, Kim Kornegay-LeQuire—have plenty of experience managing different operations and trying new things at their farm, Kornegay Family Farms & Produce, in Princeton, North Carolina.
The operation’s long-time success led to Danny being named the 2015 Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year at last year’s Sunbelt Ag Expo in Moultrie, Ga.
The family has weathered downturns in both the cotton and tobacco markets, yet both continue to provide good income. “The future for tobacco with regulations and demand doesn’t make it the most stable industry. We think there will continue to be a strong demand for healthy American-grown food like sweet potatoes and vegetables.”
Both Dan and Kim give credit to their dad for planning a farm for the future and working to make it all come to fruition.
“I think Dad has just had such great vision,” says Kim, who oversees the farm’s payroll, human resources and food safety program, among other duties. “He has not tried to be the biggest at everything, but always had a plan for steady and managed growth. And in the past 10 years, my brother has had a big role in that.”
Among other prizes for being named Farmer of the Year, Danny received a year’s use of a Massey Ferguson® 8737 tractor. He says about the MF8737: “It is well built. The Dyna-VT™ transmission is very nice because you don’t have to change gears … and the comfortable ride may be the best feature.”
See the full story about Kornegay, his farm and family: A Visit with Southeastern Farmer of the Year Danny Kornegay. For more information on the 2016 Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year award, held Tuesday, October 18, check out the Sunbelt Expo website.