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Fuel In The Field

If not in its infancy, biomass farming is perhaps still toddling along. Yet, most indicators point to a significant increase in production and an additional source of revenue for farmers, as well as a variety of other benefits, depending on the crop being grown.

Signs point to a number of infrastructure, process and equipment enhancements that will make the harvesting, transportation and storage of biomass much more efficient in the next few years, if not sooner.

Many areas in the Corn Belt actually produce higher yields if a portion of the stover is removed.

Many areas in the Corn Belt actually produce higher yields if a portion of the stover is removed.

For starters, consider the harvesting of corn stover, which in many areas of the country can increase corn yields for the following year. Also, perennial grasses such as miscanthus and switchgrass can be grown on marginal land, require little in the way of inputs, and offer a number of environmental benefits, such as helping to filter runoff and prevent erosion.

Among such biomass-producing crops, stover already has a foothold. It’s readily available in many parts of the Corn Belt, where a partial harvest does help yields.

Now farmers and the biofuels industry are looking ahead at increased production of all things biomass, including the crops mentioned above, as well as energy sorghum, woody biomass and more. The U.S Department of Energy predicts total crop- and pastureland planted in bioenergy crops will increase from less than 10 million acres today to between 60 and 80 million acres over the next 15 years.

As a result of this increased demand, new processes and technologies are in development to help make the gathering and transport of biomass, particularly stover, more efficient and profitable for the farmer. Especially promising is single-pass harvesting, which promises the operator considerable time and fuel savings over other methods currently in use.

“AGCO has a unique solution for single-pass harvesting equipment with their new series of combines that are single-pass compatible,” says Dr. Matt Darr, assistant professor of Agricultural & Biosystems Engineering at Iowa State University. “AGCO is also a leader in the industry with single-pass baling products to provide producers and large energy companies the opportunity to make single-pass harvesting a reality within a supply chain.”

The technology in Hesston® by Massey Ferguson balers is ready-made to handle stover, as well as other biomass crops. Already, the Hesston 2170XD large square baler has earned its stripes for how densely it can pack the bulky crops, says David Ibbetson, a Kansas-based custom baler who uses two 2170XD balers to bundle some 15,000 bales each year in Iowa. He also uses Hesston round balers to bundle another 1,500-plus bales closer to his home in Yates Center.

Several other pieces of equipment that will aid in the harvesting of residue are now in the pipeline at AGCO. One such tool is a corn header that can harvest upwards of 150% higher volumes of corn and MOG. Another is a receiver chute that’s attached to the front of the baler and allows it to take in MOG without it being deposited on the ground before baling. “By having the baler accept the residue directly,” explains Maynard Herron, AGCO’s engineering manager at its Hesston, Kan., plant, “you cut in half the amount of ash in the bale. Those cleaner bales, of course, are more valuable and make this approach to stover more profitable to the farmer.”

playstoverWatch a video of Iowa State’s Dr. Matt Darr explaining when harvesting corn stover can increase yields, save money and time, and generate revenue at http://www.myfarmlife.com/crops/the-case-for-stover/.

Continue the conversation: Do you harvest stover? If so, have you seen a benefit on your farm?

If you would like to learn more about AGCO’s Biomass Solutions, please visit: www.bit.ly/AGCOBiomass.

 

Massey Ferguson Children’s Character “Little Grey Fergie” Opens a Dedicated Attraction at Norway Theme Park

The Land of the Little Grey Fergie  – Gråtassland – opened in grand style in Stavanger Norway on 4 June.

This fantastic brand-new attraction area at the Kongeparken in Stavanger is a celebration of the children’s character ‘Little Grey Fergie’ (Gråtass) which is based on an original Ferguson TE 20 tractor. Over the last 20 years the original story of his adventures, written by Morten Myklebust, has grown into two feature film hits, a TV series, several stage shows and DVDs, plus a brand-new production filmed in England which is available on the itnernet and features a full-size live-action tractor.

Photo Kjersti R. DolvikUltra-modern technology has been employed at Kongeparken, one of Scandinavia’s foremost theme parks, to ensure Little Grey Fergie comes to life for visitors. “It’s like walking into the movie!” says Håkon Lund, CEO of Kongeparken.

Visitors will be welcomed by the character himself and will also be able to meet the animals on the farm at the petting zoo. An exciting tractor ride takes visitors through the captivating story of Little Grey Fergie and his friends. There are also play tractors and an old country store. Bringing things right up to date, there is the chance to experience one of the very latest Massey Ferguson tractors especially adjusted for kids.

Massey Ferguson Norwegian dealer – Eiksenteret – and the dealership chain are key partners in this exciting new project along with Fantasifabrikken A/S, the production company behind Gråtass.

With the opening of Gråtassland in Stavanger, the Ferguson TE 20 is effectively returning to its origins in Norway. More than 60 years ago not far from the town, Christian Eik started to import the tractor into the country from England. His pioneering work played an important part in laying the foundations for mechanised agriculture in Norway.

“As importers of Massey Ferguson today, we want to make sure that the history of the Little Grey Fergie is embraced, along with the Massey Ferguson brand name,” says Trond Kjempekjenn, General Sales Manager, AGCO Norway/ Eikmaskin a/s. “We have a very good partnership with Kongeparken – Fergie is in the best hands. Gråtassland will be a great place for the whole family to enjoy. Fergie has many fans both in Norway and abroad. Children and grown-ups alike can now share their fun with him as he returns ‘home’ to Stavanger.”

Find out more on Gråtassland at www.kongeparken.no
You can watch the live-action series at www.littlegreyfergie.com

Hay Equipment Maintenance Checklists

Downtime is costly for any producer, but it’s even worse for commercial operators who depend on quality hay for their livelihood. That’s one reason Larry Krepline goes through his two Hesston big square balers and Hesston windrower every fall with the help of Gruett’s Inc., his Massey Ferguson dealer in Potter, Wisc. That is, after he totally cleans each machine at the end of the season with compressed air and/or a power washer.

“One of their technicians actually comes out here to the farm and we go through the full checklist on each machine,” Krepline says. “After that, my crew and I will make most of the repairs ourselves based on the recommendations. At the very least, we’ll change all the fluids, including the oil in the cutterbed, and replace all the disc header knives, along with the bolts and bushings. I don’t need any of them breaking during the season.”

With three windrowers, two big square balers and ten 3-twine balers, Mark Atkinson, owner of Atkinson Hay Company in Dixon, Calif., has a big maintenance project each winter, too. However, by the time he and his crew finish, Atkinson says every machine they own has been restored to like-new condition.

“In fact, our dealer usually has somebody waiting for a machine when we trade it,” he adds. “We literally take every machine apart and rebuild it, replacing any part that we have doubts about. If there’s any question about whether it will make it through the next hay season, we replace it,” he adds, noting that replacement parts include everything from knotter bill hooks to bale chamber side plates. “Downtime is too expensive to risk it.”

Another tip, this one from Dean Morrell, product marketing manager for Hesston by Massey Ferguson hay products: “Months down the road it can be hard to remember that noise you wanted to check out before next season. By writing it down, when you notice what might be a problem, you have a big head start on maintenance that will leave your equipment in top condition, ready for another productive season.”

For detailed checklists for hay equipment maintenance, including a video from our own Dean Morrell, product marketing manager for Hesston® by Massey Ferguson hay products, see http://www.myfarmlife.com/advantage/hay-equipment-maintenance-checklists/.

Purpose-Built Power

In most instances, compromise is a good thing. That’s not necessarily true, however, when you are talking about agricultural engines. According to Matt Rushing, AGCO director of product management for global engines and global electronics, nearly every company but AGCO shares most of their engines with other applications. Consequently, trade-offs on performance and price are generally the result.

The AGCO Power 9.8-liter, 7-cylinder in-line diesel engine used in the Massey Ferguson 9500 Series combines as a good example of an engine built specifically for ag.

The AGCO Power 9.8-liter, 7-cylinder in-line diesel engine used in the Massey Ferguson 9500 Series combines as a good example of an engine built specifically for ag.

“That’s not the case with the AGCO POWER engines Massey Ferguson® uses to power the majority of its tractors and harvest equipment,” says Rushing. “We purposely build our engines for particular agricultural products.”

In contrast, Rushing says many of Massey Ferguson’s competitors are forced to build a line of engines for multiple applications—from excavators and marine usage to trucks and forestry machines. “They really have to design their engine families with those things in mind. When you do that, you’re going to have to compromise somewhere.”

As a result, he continues, “one group of customers is often penalized in terms of cost, size or performance, because the engine has to be built a certain way for another specific group of customers … whether that involves using a certain type of cooler, a certain SCR dosing system or even special internal components.” However, because AGCO POWER engines are designed and built for agricultural applications, the machines can often be built smaller to allow for greater ease of handling or provide greater visibility than if an off-the-shelf engine were fitted under the hood.

As one example, Rushing points to the AGCO POWER 9.8-liter, 7-cylinder in-line diesel engine used in the Massey Ferguson 9500 Series combines. “It’s basically one cylinder longer than the 8.4-liter engine we use in the 8600 Series tractors, so that gives us and our customers a lot more parts commonality for lower maintenance costs. Yet, the in-line design gives us as much torque and power as we had with the [12.5-litre] Cat, while leaving space for all the turbos, after-treatment components and in-line cooling systems that are required to meet current emissions standards.”

See more about how this saves farmer customers time, money and fuel at http://www.myfarmlife.com/advantage/purpose-built-power/.

Small Hay, Big Needs

Hammann walks with his son, Jason, who kicks in some much-needed help at harvest time.

Hammann walks with his son, Jason, who kicks in some much-needed help at harvest time.

Most days, from 5 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., you can find Galen Hammann working what might be called his first shift. He’s an assistant engineer at the Truman Hotel in his hometown of Jefferson City, Mo.

By mid-afternoon, he’s working closer to home on his 185-acre farm, where he raises about 80 head of cattle a year, as well as oats, wheat and hay—a mixture of fescue, orchardgrass, brome and clover—to use as feed for his cow/calf operation. No matter what he’s up to, the work usually doesn’t stop until dark, if not later.

That’s much the same story for Ken Thalman. Living and working about a three-hour drive east from Hammann, Thalman is a full-time postal employee in Centralia, Ill., who, in addition to his day job, grows grass hay on 18 acres of his 40-acre spread.

Thalman and Hammann are among the growing ranks of the do-it-yourself hay producers. One of the main drivers of the trend is that less hay is being produced, leading to higher prices.

Also, significant advances in equipment have made it more cost-effective for many farmers to grow their own as opposed to buying feed or hiring custom harvesters. Even growing hay on plots of land once considered too small to be worth the effort has become an increasingly popular solution for producers looking to squeeze the value out of every dollar, hour and acre.

To be sure, the rising cost of hay and the demand on custom harvesters have made the DIY option more cost-effective for greater numbers of small-acreage farmers. In addition, not only can they now grow hay themselves, small-acreage producers can also grow the quality their operations demand.

Both Hammann and Thalman battle hills and sharp corners that make operating with large mowers and balers difficult. That’s a big reason why they use small, nimble equipment that’s more suited for rolling land often carved into small parcels.

“The smaller length of the cutterbar on Ken’s Massey Ferguson® 1326 disc mower allows it to cover rough terrain,” says dealer Jeff Suchomski, of Suchomski Equipment. “And Ken’s Hesston® 1734 [round] baler, with the smaller overall size, can handle the terrain better too.”

Thalman checks over a 600-pound round bale made with his Hesston 1734 baler.

Thalman checks over a 600-pound round bale made with his Hesston 1734 baler.

Thalman can also pull his new equipment with relatively low-horsepower tractors. Considering many small-acreage farmers aren’t likely to own anything much larger, that’s a valuable feature.

“I don’t need a big tractor [for] farming,” says Thalman. “I’ve got my own tractor, and Jeff can match me up with equipment that will work with what I’ve got. It’s a win-win situation.”

Both Thalman and Hammann also have to travel over the road with their equipment to reach smaller patches of land they clear for neighbors. When he needs to be mobile, Hammann runs a Hesston 4550 square baler he purchased from Tom Lauf, of Lauf Equipment. “The square baler is built very compact compared to how it used to be built. It’s narrower and still makes a better bale than the old balers did,” Lauf says.

Thalman also likes the way his equipment handles in tight spots. “When I show you some of the places that I take hay off of, you’d think there’s no way you could get your equipment in,” he says. “I’ve got places up and down the road here with 4, 5 and 6 acres that I mow. And my equipment is small enough, I can just run right down the road.”

Read the full story at http://www.myfarmlife.com/features/small-hay-operations-have-big-needs/.

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