By: Melissa Runge
We have all seen the stereotype of a farmer being portrayed as an older gentleman with a pitchfork in his hand, right? Indeed, if you were to glance at the 2012 US Census of Agriculture report, it would quickly become apparent that some of those stereotypical characteristics are in fact true. This study reported the average age of a principal farm owner in 2012 was 58.3 years old which is up from the average age of 57.1 years in 2007. This increase in the average age of principal owners has been a trend for more than 30 years, with no perceptible reversal in sight. While most farmers are older than the average population, that doesn’t mean he is carrying a pitchfork; think more along the lines of an iPad.
What does this mean for the farming business? It means those who are farming are getting older and younger farmers are not lining up to enter the business. Times are changing and equipment manufacturers have an obligation to farmers to provide products that ensure this business stays relevant and exciting while not only providing value to existing customers but also attracting new customers. As with most generations, the younger set considers cash as the most important perk of a job. In 2013, Ernst & Young conducted a survey to determine which characteristics were prevalent by generation. This survey included 1,215 cross-company professionals and grouped them into three categories: Millennials–ages 18-32, Generation X–ages 33-48 and Boomers–ages 49-57. Overwhelmingly it showed that cash is still the king of perks.
All of this research suggests that younger generations aren’t lining up to enter the business of large acreage farming for one reason: LACK OF CASH. Not only is it expensive to start a farming operation, if grandpa wasn’t in the business, young people are even less likely to jump into farming. According to a 2016 report from Iowa State University which estimates the costs of crop production in Iowa, the average cost to farm an acre of land was between approximately $600 and $800 per acre. This includes the cost of machinery, seeds, chemicals, labor and land. These ongoing costs are quite substantial and do not include any startup costs, and taken together, they are proving to be intimidating to a young farmer.
AGCO understands the need to attract these potential customers, the young farmer, but also to make our existing customers, including the seasoned farmer, more successful. One way this can happen is through technology. Let’s face it: technology is here to stay and we must embrace it no matter what industry or generation we are in. We are all guilty of getting lost in our phone or computer from time to time; however, for Millennials this is how business is conducted. According to that same Ernst & Young survey, Millennials are regarded as the most tech savvy generation (78%) compared to Generation X (18%) and Boomers (4%). As AGCO continues to grow our Fuse Technologies product portfolio and dealers offer Fuse Connected Services, it is imperative that we keep these characteristics in mind.
By not only introducing new and updated Fuse technologies including guidance, telematics and applications to optimize the farm, the introduction of Fuse Connected Services provides customers service and support to ensure these products are being used correctly. These technologies and services are allowing farms to become more and more technology-driven, which suits the younger, future farmer demographic while also optimizing the farms of existing farmers to improve yields and profitability.
The end result for our customers of all generations will be the same– INCREASED PRODUCTIVITY AND INCREASED PROFIT which in turn will attract more new farmers into the business and keep farming relevant and exciting.
For more information on AGCO’s precision farming products, data management policy and Fuse Connected Services, please visit www.agcocorp.com/Fuse.
Melissa Runge is the global program manager for AGCO’s Advanced Technology Solutions group.
A Delegation of Chinese agricultural and engineering representatives recently toured AGCO Australia’s Sunshine distribution and corporate offices.
The study tour focused on the promotion of shared innovation and farming practices as China moves towards modernising its agriculture sector while balancing environmental and population challenges.
A vital industry in China, agriculture employs a staggering 300,000 million farmers – roughly 21% of its population, with a history stretching well into China’s ancient past. Rice has been cultivated in China for 7,700 years making it one of the oldest agrarian civilisations.
More contemporarily, China ranks highly in worldwide production of rice, wheat, potatoes, sorghum, peanuts, tea, millet, barley, cotton, oil seed, pork and fish. Accounting for 10 percent of arable land worldwide, China produces food for 20 percent of the world’s population – that’s 1.4 billion people.
Having also visited Europe and North America, the group were interested in analysing case studies of AGCO products that illustrate the real world benefits new technologies have had on farming operations in Australia and the adoption rate amongst local farmers.
China’s agricultural sector is large but also one of the least efficient in the world. The study group’s main focus was on farming methods that will help drive change in traditional methods.
The representatives came from a variety of regions in China, keen on gathering strong evidence of the benefits of different farming practices and their potential to transform traditional techniques, helping China forge ahead with modernisation while mitigating the worst effects of air and water pollution.
Emission reduction technologies and fuel efficient machinery were of particular interest to the delegation as China increases mechanisation of agriculture.
The contrast with Australia’s agricultural sector could not be starker. As a country with a small population, agriculture in Australia employs 307,000 people – that’s 1% of its population. The majority of farm output is destined for offshore markets with Australia ranking 5th in global wheat exporters.
The potential for improvements in Chinese farming practices is enormous and could have huge benefits for not only for China but also the world, as future food scarcity looms as a potential threat to the global population.
It is hoped that these experiences will help Chinese agricultural specialists and policy makers compare global agricultural practices and adapt new technologies to Chinese farming conditions.
With the addition of three new, large-frame models, the Massey Ferguson 5600 Series tractors now tackle an even wider array of jobs for a variety of operations. Ranging from 80 to 100 PTO HP, these new models, which include the 5611, 5612 and 5613, round out the MF5600 Series with features and capabilities never before found in the mid-range tractor market.
“Among the industry firsts in this power range is a new front axle suspension. Available as an option on 4-wheel-drive versions of the large-frame models, the new suspension maximizes traction and ride comfort,” says Taylor Grout, AGCO product marketing specialist for mid-range tractors.
The new models also come in a choice of Classic and Deluxe configurations, packaged with the needs of the customer in mind. The Classic models combine the power, performance and versatility customers expect of Massey Ferguson machines, and include ergonomic features such as a mechanical multi-function loader joystick. The Deluxe package offers premium features that enable the operator to work faster and to a higher standard with more accuracy, including an electronic multi-function loader joystick—another first for this size tractor.
With options that meet the needs of a wide range of operations, Massey Ferguson also offers choices in hydraulic systems: two open-center options, a standard (15 gpm) or Twin-Flow (26 gpm) configuration, or a closed-center hydraulic system, which delivers 29 gpm. The class-leading closed-center system offers improved efficiency by only pumping the amount of oil required when it is needed to meet the strenuous demands of larger implements and attachments.
With a full-time job and a 200-acre farm to manage, Gary Ellis has no time for downtime.
“I don’t have time to be repairing the tractors. Reliability is my main concern,” says Ellis, an electrical engineer who raises about 50 head of cattle on his farm near South Pittsburg, Tenn. “With the Massey Fergusons, I’ve had no maintenance at all on any of my tractors, on anything except the basic fluids. And that’s something I count on.”
In addition to three Massey Ferguson® tractors and one older AGCO-Allis model, Ellis has a Kubota M9000. “Compared to the Masseys, it’s a nightmare just to do your standard services. It’s really hard to reach and access the [serviceable components]. Masseys are a world of difference … and just a user-friendly tractor.”
Ellis also says of the Kubota: “The tractor is so lightweight that it really makes a mess out there in the fields. [You have] to engage the 4-wheel-drive just to get out of normal situations. I’m not having that problem at all with the Masseys; they’re heavy, well-built, large-frame tractors that have really been a joy to work with out in field conditions.”
I’m very happy with the tractors overall,” continues Ellis. So satisfied, in fact, he’s looking to purchase both a new MF4610—because of its “terrific versatility”—as well as an MF5610. “It’s got the Dyna-4 transmission, which, because you don’t have to push the clutch, is so easy to use for jobs like putting up hay, even on the hills we have here. The 5610 cab is roomy, too,” he continues. “It’s well laid out, and with lots of visibility.”
Good equipment and a top-notch dealer keep this rancher’s operation humming.
We recently introduced you to Dan Forsea in a blog post about his efforts to protect water on his Oregon ranch. His operation is in the thick of rugged terrain that includes as much as 20,000 acres of Bureau of Land Management land.
What brand of equipment does he rely on? To harvest hay for his 650-head of Angus-Hereford cows and complete a multitude of other chores, the cattleman depends on Massey Ferguson®.
Forsea has two Massey Ferguson 7480 tractors. He says they’re versatile machines, which he uses to put up and feed hay and drag his hay meadows. Last year, the rancher also bought a Massey Ferguson 1372 12-foot-wide swather disc mower. He puts up timothy, orchardgrass and clover hay, as well as some alfalfa, to winter his cow herd and to background his yearlings before he sells them.
This rancher depends on his Massey Ferguson equipment, in part because it’s as rugged as the land he works. Forsea expects a lot from his Massey Ferguson equipment and he appreciates his dealer, Robbins Equipment Company in Baker City, Ore., one of hundreds of AGCO dealerships in North America that keep their customers running and working with the most innovative and reliable farm equipment on the planet.
“As much as anything, I’ve had good luck with the dealer,” Forsea says. “I’ve dealt with Robbins since ‘82. I’ve stayed with them and they’ve stayed with me.”
He continues, “They stand behind what they sell, and they do what they need to do to keep me happy. They’ve been good to deal with. Whatever they sell, I buy. It has worked well for both of us.”