To some, it might seem odd that the Future Farmers of America (FFA) would recognize and reward musical talent. After all, the 85-year-old organization’s stated mission is to “prepare future generations for the challenges of feeding a growing population.”
Yet the organization’s Career Development Events program does spotlight the musical endeavors of its members, as well as other pursuits. Besides awards for swine and goat production, dairy evaluation and tractor driving, the National FFA Organization honors members who excel at such activities as public speaking and crime prevention.
“Everybody stereotypes ag, thinking it’s just cows and plows. If you look at the industry, there are more jobs in the world not directly producing food but manufacturing it, hauling it or marketing,” says Marty Myers, a high school FFA sponsor. “Ag teaches leadership, not just farming and plowing. It tries to get them ready for real life.”
Real life includes finding a balance, and music has always been a part of many farmers’ recreational time. That’s why the FFA at the national and state level holds competitions to help develop and showcase talent and leadership skills.
In 2014, the National FFA Organization is offering $2.1 million in scholarships. AGCO is part of this effort. During the 2013-2014 FFA scholarship year, AGCO and nearly 50 local Challenger®, Massey Ferguson® and Gleaner® dealers will distribute a total of 100 scholarships in the amount of $1,000 each.
Little known to our dealers and for many of our employees is the fact that our large square baler, the 2170XD and now the 2270XD, is recognized as the “King of Collection” for the baling of corn stover and wheat straw for the fledgling cellulosic ethanol industry. For over 5 years, AGCO has been working with both leading industry and university associates to develop an economical biomass feedstock supply chain. Now our balers are the centerpiece of the supply chain critical to the success of the first 3 major projects for the industry. These three projects are Abengoa’s Hugoton, KS project; Dupont’s Nevada, IA project; and POET/DSM’s project in Emmetsburg, IA. Each one is making ethanol from corn stover. Taken together these projects will require over 1,000,000 dry tons of material or roughly 1.8 million bales of which over 1.5 million will be large squares. With the corn harvest lasting only 6-8 weeks, to say there is intense activity for the baling of corn stover is a huge understatement.
Whether collecting this material for his or her self or having a professional harvester do it, this is a source of additional income for our farmers. Data has also shown an additional benefit resulting from this undertaking of residue management. With corn yields continually increasing, our farmers are producing rising amounts of corn stover as well. In fact so much residue is available after harvest that leaving it all on the field is not providing the same benefit it has in the past. The evidence is clear that removing some of the stover results in better yields in a corn on corn rotation. Uniformity of seed placement and depth, faster soil warming, less nitrogen fixing and less disease all help increase yields from 5-10%; this with the added benefit of less tilling.
Last year, during the 2013 corn harvest we had over 100 of our 2170’s and 2170XD’s at work making over 1,000,000 bales of corn stover for the ethanol industry. This amounted to over 90% of the large square balers working in this market. AGCO is working through product development to continue to improve our large square baler to support this dynamic new industry and our farmers. Better densities; data acquisition, management and evaluation; all helping to improve the operators of our equipment; and producing the most reliable and efficient large square baler in the market. This makes it easy to understand why our large square baler is considered the “King of Collection”.
If you would like to learn more about AGCO’s Biomass Solutions, please visit: www.bit.ly/AGCOBiomass.
By Louisa Parker, Manager External Affairs, Africa & Middle East
To support AGCO’s new partnership with USAID on the Feed the Future Partnering for Innovation project in Africa, the first kickoff Bags2Bulk Roadshow event was held in May and attended by grain traders from Central Province in Zambia. Working with our Zambian distributor GSI Africa and local partners Musika and Ybema Grain Services, we were able to share details of the Bags2Bulk project and educate the traders on the benefits of moving from bagged storage for maize and soya to bulk storage via the GSI technology. Benefits will not only be gained by the mid-size trader, but pass along to the small farmer as well – in the forms of reduced grain loss and better grain quality for longer storage periods allowing the trader to sell when the timing is optimal.
Traders received short presentations from a number of supporting organisations including two of the largest grain commodity traders in Zambia. The larger traders are keen to see this shift from bag to bulk as it also improves the efficiency of their operations. Ultimately, it means they can buy and sell more maize in a season also. For smallholders, the benefits are threefold 1) improved connections to the market, 2) greater transparency on pricing, 3) being able to recycle their grain bags and use them more than once.
Of course, we learned as much from the traders as they learned from us. We got a much better understanding of the challenges they have with logistics, commissioning trucks, aggregating the harvested maize from the small holders and trading their harvest in time to hit the trading season all while monitoring the quality of the grain they are trading. All of these aspects can be improved by moving to bulk storage and adding a portable auger. Additionally, they’ll enjoy the added bonus of dramatically reducing post-harvest losses which continues to plague Africa today.
AGCO is pleased to announce that we’ve partnered with USAID on a project in Africa. USAID’s Feed the Future Partnering for Innovation program, the U.S. government’s global hunger and food security initiative which supports country-driven approaches to address the root causes of hunger and poverty. Through this Presidential initiative, the United States is helping countries transform their own agricultural sectors to grow enough food to sustainably feed their people. The idea is to take new technology into new markets. In this project, called Bag2Bulk, AGCO will be introducing GSI Africa (our local GSI distributor) to mid-sized grain traders in Zambia.
To complement AGCO’s current long-term vision in Zambia, over the next 18 months, AGCO and our partners will hold select activities at the AGCO Future Farm in Lusaka. These events will provide education and demonstrate the benefits of our GSI storage technology. Additionally, topics by our partners will cover grain marketing best practices, financing and more. The goal is to sell a minimum of 40 metal grain silos to grain traders in Zambia which will benefit some 12,000 smallholder farmers who represent 80% of the maize production in the country. Since current on-farm storage options and off farm facilities are sub-optimal resulting in annual post-harvest losses of over 30% from insect, rodent and rot, the grain quality of will not only improve overall trade prices, but will allow traders to handle cereal crops more effectively, store for longer periods of time and sell when prices are optimal.
AGCO’s project partners are:
- Musika is a Zambian non-profit company that works to stimulate private sector investment in the smallholder market.
- Sierk Ybema Grain Services is a grain management training and development provider.
- GSI Africa, our local GSI distributor.
Look for updates following these exciting events from Louisa Parker, Manager External Affairs, Africa & Middle East.
Valtra’s Unlimited Studio has created a pink tractor that is all about “passion”, which is this year’s theme among the Young Farmers of Finland, an organisation of MTK (Central Union of Agricultural Producers and Forest Owners). The theme is reflected in both the interior and exterior styling of this customised tractor, which has been dubbed “Pink Cat”.
Options and features of the Pink Cat are designed together with Young Farmers representatives and Valtra Unlimited Studio. The tractor is a four-cylinder N163 Direct with stepless transmission. The specs include bright pink taping, red leather upholstery, chrome headlight surrounds, chrome exhaust, chrome mounting rack on the roof, chrome grill guard, alpine horns on the roof, LED auxiliary work lights, breath alcohol ignition interlock, a top-end stereo and DVD player, a stainless steel mirror on the ceiling of the cab, rim guards made out of chrome-plated sheet metal, iPad and an Auto-Guide readiness system. The tractor itself boasts 171 horsepower, 700 Nm of torque, a 50 km/h transmission and 160 litre per minute load-sensing hydraulics.
Pink Cat will appear at Young Farmers’ events throughout Finland, beginning at the Okra fair in Oripää on 4 July. The tractor will visit all Finnish provinces before returning to its roots in Central Finland at the KoneAgria fair on 11 October. Pink Cat will be accompanied at these events by a customised trailer featuring a hot tub and terrace. After the tour the tractor will be offered for sale to customers just like any other demo tractor.
Pink Cat features:
- Pink taping
- Red leather upholstery
- Chrome exhaust, headlight surrounds and grill guard
- Alpine horns and auxiliary lights on roof
- Breath alcohol ignition interlock
- Top-end stereo and DVD
- Stainless steel mirror and LED lamps on cab ceiling
- Auto-Guide readiness system