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Silage Chopping, Packing and Storage: Top of the Heap

Butch Gist and Marvin Davis are something of a dynamic duo. Together, they own D&G Chopping, a silage harvesting and packing operation, and run the latter’s family business, Gist Farms, a conglomeration of trucking, rail, equipment repair and farming.

Having worked together for 40-plus years, the two have weathered the ups and downs that buffet any business. Having experienced it in the fast-paced, topsy-turvy environment that is California agriculture, it has at times seemed more like a super roller-coaster ride, complete with barrel rolls and loop-de-loops.

They’ve seen business models and farms come and go. Yet, they’ve adapted and survived, even thrived. “We’ve seen a lot of changes in farming,” Davis says. “But we’ve found our way … found a way to adapt as the business changed.”

For instance, some 20-plus years ago, dairies began replacing many row-crop operations in California’s Central Valley. Running a custom harvesting operation, Davis and Gist realized they needed to change their focus, too. “The dairy industry just exploded in our area,” Davis says. “They were moving everything over to chopping, to silage. By the end of that first season, we had three new choppers … and basically a new business.”

D&G Chopping was born. “That was 25 years ago,” continues Davis, “and since then we’ve begun packing that silage for our customers, and all along watching for other opportunities.”

Yet, one of their secrets to success is not jumping into new ventures too quickly. Another is finding the right partners, which Davis and Gist say they have in many facets, including their choice of AGCO and their Challenger MT955E. They use the latter in packing silage and are extremely happy with its comfort, fuel efficiency, durability and power.

Another ingredient, says Gist: “It all goes back to the saying that I always felt was important: ‘The secret to success is putting your shadow on your business … across what’s going on.’ You just have to make sure you’re there watching and stay in touch.”

Read more: Silage Chopping, Packing and Storage: Top of the Heap

The Sunflower 6830 Series: A New Era in Tillage

With wet conditions impacting much of the corn and soybean-producing areas of Minnesota and Iowa, it has been tough to perform effective tillage. However, last week, the clouds parted for a few days and gave way to fair tillage conditions before the rains returned. During this time, I took the New Sunflower 6830 High-Speed Rotary Finisher for a trip across 230-bushel corn planted in the 36,000 to 39,000 plant population. I was very impressed with the tool’s performance in both sizing and mixing residue.

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The corn was harvested using a chopping corn head. Highest-yielding corn was in the range of 240 bushels with an average yield of 203. Row spacing was planted on 30-inch rows. Very soft field conditions were present during harvest leaving ruts 4 to 6 inches deep where the harvester and grain cart was run. Operating speed of the tool was at 11.5 mph. The depth of the 6830 was set and checked at 4 inches. The width of this unit was 29 feet. 11.5 mph x 29 feet = 333.5/8.25 = 40.43 acres per hour. The Sunflower 6830 was pulled with a Challenger 855E tractor, which burned 17 gallons per hour during this operation.

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I took a 5-foot by 6-foot area and painted it with marker paint to give a visual of the chopping, sizing and mixing the residue mat left on the soil surface.

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In the above picture, you can see the extraordinary job the Sunflower 6830 did in chopping, sizing and mixing the residue mat. In some areas of the country, this single pass will provide a sufficient job in allowing the residue to be broken down prior to the next planting season.  Although difficult to see, this picture was taken directly in the wheel track seen in the first picture of the painted residue.  Not only were the residue and soil mixed, but also completely leveled a 4-inch rut left by the combine.

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These pictures show the tool’s ability to manage the root mass that is left and needs to be managed before further tillage or planting the next crop. Not only are we managing the surface residue, but also the below-surface residue. The sooner we can start the incorporation of this residue with the soil and its many helpful microorganisms, the faster that residue can start the decomposition process.

I’m lucky enough to run several of these Sunflower tools. Sunflower 6830 High-Speed Rotary Finisher is one of the only tools that can prepare a seedbed in the spring by leaving a level seedbed to plant into. It can also perform the act of residue management in the fall and succeed at both.

Justin Remus

AGCO Product Specialist

I studied agronomy at South Dakota State University. I have several years of experience working with students, growers and my own family farm to develop practices that work in the real world.

Currently, I cover territories in Minnesota and Iowa for the AGCO Corp working on several projects related to the 2017 AGCO Crop Tour. In addition, I have been working with several of the new tools that AGCO has brought to market in the past 12 months; the White Planter 9800VE Series and the Challenger 1000 Series.

Visit http://agcocropcare.com/ for more information.

A Visit With Southeastern Farmer of the Year Danny Kornegay

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 Kornegay

Danny Kornegay

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.

The Kornegay family

The Kornegay family

“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.

Fendt 1000 Vario Tractor: Versatile, Powerful, Unique

The Fendt 1000 Vario tractors mark the beginning of a new power class for standard tractors. Ranging from 380 HP to 500 HP, the four new models in the series are big and powerful, yet remarkably compact, agile, fast and fuel efficient.

A breakthrough in class-leading intelligent design, the Fendt 1000 tractors are exceptionally versatile, capable of transport work at 31 mph (50 kph) and heavy draft work. Thanks to their relatively light 30,864 pounds and 60-inch row-crop-capable track width, all four fixed-frame models can fill the row-crop and transport needs commonly delegated to a conventional tractor. Yet, a flexible ballasting concept allows each vehicle to be loaded with up to 50% of its base weight for use in the heaviest draft applications typically reserved for 4-wheel-drive, track and articulated tractors.

“The Fendt 1000 Vario is also the first standard tractor line with a new Fendt iD comprehensive low-engine-speed concept,” explains Josh Keeney, tactical marketing manager for North America. “That means that all drivetrain components, as well as the hydraulics and cooling system, were designed to work ideally within the ‘high-torque, low-engine-speed’ concept to minimize fuel consumption and extend service life.”

As Keeney explains, in addition to Fendt iD, another groundbreaking component is a completely new stepless drive concept called VarioDrive. “Fendt has not only further developed the Vario transmission, but also developed a completely new drivetrain,” he says. “It’s the first drivetrain that drives both axles independently, providing optimized traction, automated 4-wheel drive and enhanced maneuverability.”

“Fendt tractors have always been appreciated by operators for their comfort, power, ease of use and technology offering. The 1000 Vario won’t disappoint, adding another level of precision capability to its operation,” Keeney says.

For more info on the Fendt 1000 Vario tractors, see your Fendt dealer or visit fendt.com/us.

See the full story and a video of the new tractor in action: Fendt 1000 Vario Tractor: Versatile, Powerful, Unique.

The Challenger 1000 Series: New Tractor, New Future

The new Challenger 1000 Series tractors are more than a new line of high-horsepower machines. They also represent an engineering breakthrough, offering tech-savvy solutions for today’s agribusiness operations.

“The Challenger 1000 Series is a completely new class of tractors,” says Josh Keeney, Challenger tactical marketing manager for North America. Each of the four models in the series, he says, “delivers more for less, with high efficiency and incredible power … all while offering intelligent, superior engineering, and exceptional road speed and operator comfort.

Ranging from 396 to 517 HP, the four models in the 1000 Series are the most versatile standard tractor on the market. Weighing in at an agile 30,864 pounds, they can fill the row-crop and transport needs commonly delegated to a conventional tractor. An easy ballasting system gives each vehicle the potential to be loaded with up to 50% of its base weight for use in heavy draft applications typically reserved for small-frame articulated tractors.

“One key to the Challenger 1000 Series performance is an advanced step-less drivetrain called AccuDrive,™” says Keeney, “designed for high torque, independent of ground conditions, while keeping engine speed especially low.” The 1000 Series tractors reach their maximum speed of 31 mph at a fuel-saving 1,200 rpm, and deliver up to 1,770 feet-pounds of torque (model 1050) at just 1,100 rpm.

The efficient and ergonomic cab environment even ensures all controls in the cab are color-coded for function, including engine and transmission, hydraulics, PTO and electronics—an incredible advantage when training new operators.

For more information on the new Challenger 1000 Series tractors, see your nearest Challenger dealer or log on to challenger-ag.us.

See the full story and the new tractor in action online: Challenger 1000 Series: New Tractor, New Future.