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Welcome home! Police escort through city streets for returning South Pole tractor hero

The MF 5610 tractor which spearheaded the gruelling Antarctica2 expedition to the South Pole in December received a rapturous hero’s welcome on its return home to the French City of Beauvais on 13 February.

Crowds turned out to honour the tractor at special homecoming ceremonies held at the AGCO manufacturing plant, where it was designed and built, and at the Town Hall where Madame Caroline Cayeux, Mayor of Beauvais welcomed it back on behalf of the City.

Left to right: Antarctica2 MF 5610 at the Beauvais 2 Training Centre. Simon Foster - Expedition Creative Director, Manon Ossevoort - Expedition Ambassador, Nicolas Bachelet - Expedition Mechanic

Left to right: Antarctica2 MF 5610 at the Beauvais 2 Training Centre. Simon Foster – Expedition Creative Director, Manon Ossevoort – Expedition Ambassador, Nicolas Bachelet – Expedition Mechanic.

Special guests at the ceremonies were the Antarctica2 Expedition’s Ambassador and Lead Driver, Manon Ossevoort, Lead Mechanic, Nicolas Bachelet and Cameraman, Simon Foster. In taking Manon safely to the South Pole, the MF 5610 not only helped her realise her 12-year dream to drive a tractor ‘to the end of the world.’ but also became the first standard farm tractor equipped with tyres to reach the Geographic South Pole overland.

At the Beauvais plant, Manon officially handed back the tractor’s keys to Richard Markwell, Vice President and Managing Director Massey Ferguson Europe, Africa and Middle-East, who had previously presented them to her on 29 July, 2014. “We are all so proud of our tractor and the incredible achievement of Manon and her Antarctica2 team,” said Richard. “Our warmest congratulations on their courage and their determination as well as, of course, their belief in the Massey Ferguson brand. Employees here at Massey Ferguson along with a global audience of millions followed the team’s battle across the ice as news of their exploits unfolded like an adventure story each day. It was exciting and inspiring to see one of the tractors designed and built in this factory making both history and headlines around the world.”

Thanking Massey Ferguson for believing in her dream and supporting the expedition with the supply of the MF 5610, Manon said: “It’s feels good to deliver the tractor safely back to its home. We drove it hard for 28 days across 5000 km and, overall, clocked up 760 hours engine running time – that’s more than many farms would do in two years of normal work. Throughout, it was strong, steady and sure – a tribute to the MF staff who design and build the machines here at Beauvais. Thank you for letting me borrow your brilliant tractor!”

After the factory ceremony, the tractor made its way under police escort to the Beauvais Town Hall plaza to be greeted by Caroline Cayeux, Mayor of Beauvais

“I know I speak for all our citizens in Beauvais when I say that we are brimming with pride to see a tractor produced here reach the South Pole. What an accomplishment!” the Mayor remarked. “Massey Ferguson is an industrial icon in our City and the Antarctica2 achievement is a true testimony to the skills and knowhow of the employees at AGCO Massey Ferguson in Beauvais. Bravo and congratulations from us all.”

The MF 5610 will be one of the star exhibits on the Massey Ferguson stand at the SIMA Show in Paris 22-26 February.

Baling Tips for Quality Hay

Custom baler Reuben Wood turns out around 20,000 large square bales and up to 50,000 small square bales annually.

Custom baler Reuben Wood turns out around 20,000 large square bales and up to 50,000 small square bales annually.

Making high-quality bales that preserve hay quality boils down to a few guidelines. Here are just a few from last year’s issue of BALE. The 2014 issue of BALE will deliver to customers in early June.

Bale quality begins in the windrow. If possible, make the windrow as wide or slightly wider than the baler pickup. This allows the crop to feed evenly across the full width of the bale. If it’s not possible, make it less than half the pickup width so the operator can weave from one side to the other. Otherwise, the pickup will result in a bale that is barrel-shaped.

Avoid baling when hay moisture is too low or too high to reduce leaf shatter and nutrient losses. In arid Arizona where Massey Ferguson customer Reuben Wood operates, chasing moisture means little sleep and good headlights. “Usually, it hits 15% between 3 and 5 a.m.”

Lawrence Drost, who uses two MF2170 models to annually bale about 42,000 bales near Hartley, Texas, says he remotely checks a humidity meter at each pivot location. Then, when the air humidity gets to around 50 to 55%, he physically checks the hay moisture.

Drost says he generally starts baling at about 13% at night when the dew comes on, and quits in the morning at about 11 or 12% as the dew goes off. “Sometimes we’ll add a little preservative with the HayBoss™ system, just to extend the window,” he says.
Keep up to date on regular maintenance. Ray Lynn Campbell, a Massey Ferguson customer and custom baler from Maypearl, Texas, either trades balers every year or completely rebuilds his machine in the off-season to ensure peak performance. While some of the maintenance is done by Livingston Machinery Co., his Hesston® by Massey Ferguson dealer in Chickasha, Okla., Campbell does much of the work himself, using only genuine AGCO parts.

“I’ve never used anything but replacement parts from the dealership,” says Campbell. “So I don’t have any experience with anything else.”

For more tips, see http://www.myfarmlife.com/features/baling-tips-for-quality-hay/.

A Family With Pull

It’s National Farm Machinery Show week, and that means we’re in Louisville, Kentucky, for the show and its Championship Tractor Pull. Here’s a little Throwback Thursday to our 2011 FarmLife story on the Haney family, pullers and Massey Ferguson dealers from Alabama:

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A determined and focused Louis Haney waits in line for the pull, wearing his fire-resistant hood. He drives the diesel version of Cujo, a tractor well-known for decades in pulling circles.

A determined and focused Louis Haney waits in line for the pull, wearing his fire-resistant hood. He drives the diesel version of Cujo, a tractor well-known for decades in pulling circles.

Louis and Leon Haney remember watching the froth-flecked Stephen King thriller Cujo back in the early 1980s. Leon, a master mechanic who works with his brother Louis at Haney Equipment Company in Athens, Ala., was already running a pulling tractor nicknamed Home Brew. But there was something about that rabid dog movie and its tagline, “Now there’s a new name for terror.”

It had bite.

Ask him about it, and Leon grins. “I thought to myself, ‘If I could build a tractor as mean as that dog …’” he says.

Well, mission accomplished.

Cujo, the Allis Chalmers D21 that is the namesake of the Haney family’s pulling team, is still a terror at tractor pulls across the South three decades later. The high point, brothers Louis and Leon agree, was “winning Louisville,” the showcase tractor pull at the National Farm Machinery Show, in 1995.

Cujo is still a hometown favorite, in both its diesel version and Leon’s latest creation, an alcohol-fueled beast called Cujo Unleashed. In Tanner, Ala., just down the road from the Haneys’ Massey Ferguson® dealership, is an annual tractor pull that draws thousands from around the South each summer and helps raise big money for Tanner High School’s athletic program.

The Cujo Pulling Team is a staple of the event, and last year was no different. They even brought along a Massey Ferguson 8680 from the dealership to display and pull in the farm stock division. The whole family turns out to hang around in the pit and work to get the tractors ready for their turn on the pull track.

The first run for Cujo Unleashed doesn’t go too well. It shuts down about a third of the way down the track. Cujo Unleashed is towed behind the bleachers, where Leon quietly inspects it. An onboard computer has recorded data from the run, but that’s no help tonight. Leon does get the machine cranked for a second run, but the result is about the same.

Besides the never-ending tweaks and repairs, the off-season gives Leon and Ann time to reflect on the realities of a life in the sport. Purses in the local and state pulls are light compared to the time and expense. Haney Equipment Company sponsors Cujo, but the bigger teams in the bigger pulls have high-dollar sponsors and more money to build and rebuild.

Leon and Ann talk about this, but not with regret. Pulling is a family thing. “The kids were born into it,” says Ann. “We’d go to pulls, and I’d have my foot on the stroller and holding a camera during a run.” Ann remembers that the kids, now both in college, were often given a choice between pulling and better cars, better vacations, a different life. “They chose pulling,” she says. “And I wouldn’t change anything,” Clay echoes.

Besides, pulling makes great advertising for Haney Equipment. And even though Cujo Unleashed had a rough weekend at Tanner, Haney Equipment had the last laugh. At the end of the night, Adam, Louis’ son, hooked the MF 8680 up to the sled and took it 6 inches short of a full pull. Leon ran it next, “as fast as it would go,” he laughs, and took it all the way.

Cujo might have been tame for that one night in Tanner, but his big red brother bared its fangs.

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For more about the Haneys and Cujo, and video interviews with the family, see http://www.myfarmlife.com/features/a-family-with-pull/.

Green Tractor to Red Tractor

Kirk Venvertloh and his father certainly have a lot in common and share a bond when it comes to the family farm. However, when it involves tractors, you might say Kirk is going in a different direction than his dad.

While his father Willie Venvertloh has been a lifelong John Deere customer, Kirk recently purchased a new Massey Ferguson® Model 7615, equipped with the optional Dyna-VT™ CVT transmission and a Massey Ferguson Model 961 loader. In effect, it replaced two older tractors, while improving both efficiency and versatility.

Kirk Venvertloh and his father

Kirk Venvertloh and his father

“I mainly use it for feeding cattle and haying,” relates Kirk, who says he purchased the MF7615 in large part due to the efficiency and ease of operation provided by the CVT. Yet, as much as he appreciates that continuously variable transmission for both fieldwork and loader chores, Kirk says he has since learned that the tractor does so much more than he even imagined.

“I love the Dynamic Tractor Management (DTM) system and the foot pedal mode, and the way they work together when I’m using the loader,” he says. “I just move the shuttle lever to change direction, and use the pedal to start and stop, and to control the speed.” Kirk says it is equally valuable on PTO-powered equipment, like their Hesston® by Massey Ferguson Model 2745 round baler.

“It’s great for going down the road too,” he continues. “We’re spread out quite a bit. We have one farm that’s 10 miles north of our main farmstead, and my house is actually 15 miles east; so the ability to travel between fields at around 32 mph is very helpful.

“At the same time, it’s been amazing on fuel economy,” he adds, pointing out how the engine automatically throttles down when power isn’t needed. “During one of the first hay cuttings this spring, I drove 17 miles to the field, cut about 13 acres of hay with the mower conditioner at about 6 mph and used a total of seven gallons of fuel. With any of the other tractors, we would have used at least 25 to 30% more fuel.”

To read more about the Venvertlohs and their farming operation, see http://www.myfarmlife.com/farmstead/young-farmers-get-a-helping-hand/.

Matteo Bartolini President of CEJA looks back on the Council’s achievements in 2014

MFVision_Beauvais_LaSalle_Press_Day_2014-7221_85781

Among the highlights of 2014 was the official launch of the CEJA-Massey Ferguson partnership. CEJA President, Matteo Bartolini (left) is pictured here with Richard Markwell, Massey Ferguson Vice-President and Managing Director Europe/Africa/Middle East at MF’s Vision of the Future event in Beauvais, France.

MF: Would you say that 2014 was a year of maintaining the momentum of CEJA’s work?

MB: 2014 has been a crucial year for CEJA. Following the achievements made in 2013 with the inclusion of a mandatory measure for young farmers in the new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), it was essential that we ensured the implementation of this historic political agreement in an effective and concrete manner. In a similar vein, it was also important that we made use of the momentum that the CAP reform negotiations had given CEJA the previous year, and that we maintained an increasing amount of visibility and awareness of the age crisis in European farming. This was despite the retreat that agriculture, due to the end of CAP discussions, made from the central position it had been occupying in EU current affairs for the last two years. Progress has been  made on the policy front even beyond the remits of the CAP, including  putting the need to strengthen EU policy for young farmers at centre stage within the agricultural priorities of the Italian Presidency.

MF: What else was notable in 2014?

MB:  2014 witnessed the official launch of the CEJA-Massey Ferguson partnership. Among several joint events, we held a CEJA working group at the MF tractor plant in Beauvais, France. The event also included a tour of the tractor production facilities for a number of leading young farmers from across the EU. 2014 saw the end of an era as the previous European Commissioner for Agriculture, Dacian Cioloş, was replaced by Irishman Phil Hogan. In addition,  we saw an array of newly-elected MEPs take their seats on the Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development in the European Parliament. As well as this, CEJA welcomed a new Secretary General a year ago to assist what was then the newly-elected Board, with me at the helm as the new President. Despite all these changes, CEJA accomplished a number of achievements over the last 12 months and I am proud to say that the issue of young farmers was still high on the political agenda right through to the end of 2014.

To read the full article please click here

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