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.”
“The cure to most of our problems in agriculture could be sitting right in front of us,” says Jay Middleton. It’s a heavy thought, and one of the many reasons the agronomy senior at Murray State University (MSU) believes it’s important to point people toward an ag education.
Apparently, plenty of young people have followed that direction. MSU’s Hutson School of Agriculture, like so many North American ag schools, appears ready to burst at the seams. In a reversal from just a decade ago, agriculture is “in” and its future bright. Enrollment in colleges of agriculture in both the U.S. and Canada has experienced healthy upswings. Individual institutions, including MSU, are reporting record numbers.
Most of it boils down to “jobs, jobs, jobs,” says MSU Hutson School of Agriculture dean Dr. Tony Brannon. “There are lots of expanded job opportunities in fields relatively new to agriculture, such as biotechnology, veterinary technology and precision agriculture.” Coupled with a retiring workforce and an expanding market that includes positions for non-rural youth, Brannon believes this created “the perfect storm leading to increased enrollment in many sectors of agriculture.”
Because they offer a glimpse at agriculture’s future, we sat down with Middleton and a group of his ag school classmates to better understand what motivates, concerns and appeals to them about their chosen academic discipline and the profession for which they’re preparing.
Technology, a yearning to learn more, leadership, a desire to feed the world and much more is discussed in this FarmLife special report. What these young people have to say tells us the future is in good hands and that cure Middleton mentions could be just around the corner.
There is much more from current ag students as part of the special report from FarmLife, the Massey Ferguson customer magazine. Read more from them here, and browse the full package including video and infographics.