Posts Tagged ‘AGCO’
By: Robert C. Brown, Director, and Robert Mills, Communications Specialist, Bioeconomy Institute, Iowa State University
The use of fermentation to produce ethanol from corn and other biomass is well known in the agricultural world. There are, however, other technologies that can convert biomass into fuels and chemicals. Foremost among these are thermochemical processes, which use heat and catalysis to break down biomass to intermediates that can be upgraded to transportation fuels.
One advantage of thermochemical processing is that the end result can be “drop-in fuels,” those that are fully compatible with the existing fuel infrastructure. While not perfect, these drop-in fuels are good enough to run in today’s engines without modification.
Another advantage to thermochemical processing is that most systems can work with a variety of biomass feedstocks. Often the feedstock is lignocellulosic biomass, such as corn stover, switchgrass, miscanthus, wood, etc. But thermochemical processing can also use lipid-rich biomass such as distillers dried grains and algae as well as mixed wastes from commercial and municipal sources.
There are two basic types of thermochemical processing, indirect and direct liquefaction. Indirect liquefaction includes gasification, where the solid biomass is heated to create synthesis gas, or syngas, that is subsequently upgraded to liquid fuels. Various catalysts are then used to convert the gas into alcohols or hydrocarbons. The advantages of gasification is that the process produces a uniform product and it is commercially proven. Gasification, however, requires technologies to clean the gases, which are still under development, and the capital costs can be high.
Direct liquefaction uses heat and pressure to convert the biomass into liquids which can then be further upgraded into finished products. Direct liquefaction includes pyrolysis and solvent liquefaction. In the case of pyrolysis, biomass is heated in the absence of oxygen. The process yields bio-oil, syngas, and a solid product known as biochar. The bio-oil can be upgraded to drop-in fuels. Pyrolysis can be performed at relatively small scales, allowing it to take place close to the source of biomass rather than moving biomass to one large, centralized processing facility. One of the major problems with pyrolysis is that the bio-oil is unstable, complicating its conversion into fuels.
At Iowa State University, we have invented a process to condense the pyrolysis gases in fractions, resulting in better, more stable products. The economics of fast pyrolysis are promising. In addition to producing fuels and chemicals from the bio-oil, the biochar may also have economic value. Consisting mostly of carbon, biochar can be used a soil amendment, helping retain moisture and nutrients. There is also research underway to use biochar as a filter medium for purifying water.
Solvent liquefaction, or solvolysis, is similar to pyrolysis except that it is performed in a solvent at elevated pressure. Though the fundamental chemistry of solvolysis is not well understood, the technology has promising economics. The process can upgrade bio-oil in a way similar to oil refining, and it can create sugars which can be further upgraded without expensive enzymes.
In addition to extensive research into thermochemical technologies, there are also many efforts underway to commercialize these technologies. Like all start-ups, these efforts have met with various degrees of success. There are, however, several pilot-scale systems being tested and commercial plants being built.
Bioenergy is a complex topic. There are many pathways from raw material to finished product. What’s more, bioenergy technology must be viewed in context of larger energy issues and policies. You can learn more in a book written for the general public, “Why are We Producing Biofuels,” by Robert C. Brown and Tristan R. Brown. The book is available on Amazon. You can read the first chapter for free online at: http://www.brownia.com/content/whyareweproducingbiofuels_excerpt.pdf.
Most days, from 5 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., you can find Galen Hammann working what might be called his first shift. He’s an assistant engineer at the Truman Hotel in his hometown of Jefferson City, Mo.
By mid-afternoon, he’s working closer to home on his 185-acre farm, where he raises about 80 head of cattle a year, as well as oats, wheat and hay—a mixture of fescue, orchardgrass, brome and clover—to use as feed for his cow/calf operation. No matter what he’s up to, the work usually doesn’t stop until dark, if not later.
That’s much the same story for Ken Thalman. Living and working about a three-hour drive east from Hammann, Thalman is a full-time postal employee in Centralia, Ill., who, in addition to his day job, grows grass hay on 18 acres of his 40-acre spread.
Thalman and Hammann are among the growing ranks of the do-it-yourself hay producers. One of the main drivers of the trend is that less hay is being produced, leading to higher prices.
Also, significant advances in equipment have made it more cost-effective for many farmers to grow their own as opposed to buying feed or hiring custom harvesters. Even growing hay on plots of land once considered too small to be worth the effort has become an increasingly popular solution for producers looking to squeeze the value out of every dollar, hour and acre.
To be sure, the rising cost of hay and the demand on custom harvesters have made the DIY option more cost-effective for greater numbers of small-acreage farmers. In addition, not only can they now grow hay themselves, small-acreage producers can also grow the quality their operations demand.
Both Hammann and Thalman battle hills and sharp corners that make operating with large mowers and balers difficult. That’s a big reason why they use small, nimble equipment that’s more suited for rolling land often carved into small parcels.
“The smaller length of the cutterbar on Ken’s Massey Ferguson® 1326 disc mower allows it to cover rough terrain,” says dealer Jeff Suchomski, of Suchomski Equipment. “And Ken’s Hesston® 1734 [round] baler, with the smaller overall size, can handle the terrain better too.”
Thalman can also pull his new equipment with relatively low-horsepower tractors. Considering many small-acreage farmers aren’t likely to own anything much larger, that’s a valuable feature.
“I don’t need a big tractor [for] farming,” says Thalman. “I’ve got my own tractor, and Jeff can match me up with equipment that will work with what I’ve got. It’s a win-win situation.”
Both Thalman and Hammann also have to travel over the road with their equipment to reach smaller patches of land they clear for neighbors. When he needs to be mobile, Hammann runs a Hesston 4550 square baler he purchased from Tom Lauf, of Lauf Equipment. “The square baler is built very compact compared to how it used to be built. It’s narrower and still makes a better bale than the old balers did,” Lauf says.
Thalman also likes the way his equipment handles in tight spots. “When I show you some of the places that I take hay off of, you’d think there’s no way you could get your equipment in,” he says. “I’ve got places up and down the road here with 4, 5 and 6 acres that I mow. And my equipment is small enough, I can just run right down the road.”
One of the best arrays of AGCO products in New Zealand was on display at the recent Central New Zealand Customer evening held in Manfield and attended by a large gathering of 325 customers and dealer staff.
The event was an initiative of four local dealers – TFM Tractors, TRC Tractors Fielding and FieldTorque – presenting the audience with the Iseki brand and the surprise unveiling of the new MF6600 Series 120-140hp and Fendt 500 Vario 125hp-165hp tractors.
Also in attendance was AGCO staff, who offered a detailed overview of the new Fendt and Massey Ferguson tractors.
But it wasn’t all serious business – the audience was also entertained with a video of a “Top Gear” inspired hot lap that saw the Iseki, MF6600 and Fendt 500 go head to head at the nearby Manfield race track, followed later in the evening by a uniquely local comedic performance.
While it was a great opportunity to introduce exciting new product ranges, the evening was just as much a celebration for customers and a chance for dealers to show their appreciation of their support.
AGCO Australia staff invited to present and enjoy the evening were impressed by the great atmosphere and overwhelming support shown buy the large number of attendees.
“This has probably been one of the best dealer events I have attended. It was great to see the professionalism and dedication of the New Zealand dealers that organised the evening and the large number of customers that came along and had a great time”, said Paul Darcy, Director of Sales AGCO Australia.
Special mention was reserved for TRC, who were elevated to four star dealer status as part of AGCO’s program of dealer development.
AGCO Australia would like to thank TFM Tractors, TRC Tractors Fielding and FieldTorque for the great event and all New Zealand customers that participated.
Horseradish thrives in deep, sandy soil, the kind you find in America’s bottomlands, including third-generation farmer Barry McMillin’s 1,200 acres near Caseyville, Ill.
“German immigrants lived in this area,” McMillin says, “so it’s a tradition to grow horseradish here.” Today, he’s one of about a dozen larger-scale growers left in North America, because raising and harvesting the pungent roots, which belong to the cabbage family, is so labor-intensive.
“It’s backbreaking work,” he says of growing the plants on his land, Bluff View Farm. “You almost have to be born into it, because not everybody has the tools or the wherewithal to attack a crop like this. It’s not like corn or soybeans, and there’s not a lot of technical data or research on ‘how-to.’”
For McMillin, planting typically starts in March and April, but wet weather hampered efforts last year and planting wasn’t concluded until the first of June. “We like to have them in the ground by May 1, ideally, to have your best yield. Horseradish is similar to corn in that respect. You don’t want to plant too late because it starts taking off yield right away,” he says.
Planting is done with broken lateral roots and branch roots from selected stock. McMillin plants the roots in 36-inch rows, 18 to 24 inches apart, and hills them up like potatoes.
When he fertilizes, McMillin uses potash, phosphate and some nitrogen. “We’re heavier on potash than any other soil amendment. It’s a fertilizing program similar to what’s used for soybeans.”
During the growing season, horseradish foliage can reach 3 feet tall, and it’s hard to get off until there’s a heavy frost. McMillin hasn’t had much luck using the tops as cattle feed. “The tops have a pungent smell, like the roots, so it’s probably just not tasty to the cattle.”
With so few growers, there’s not a lot of buyers for horseradish harvesting equipment, so McMillin and other producers often assemble their own, modifying tools and equipment used for other crops. “We use a converted potato harvester,” he says. “But we have to beef up the frame because we dig 16 inches down—much deeper than potato farmers—and have heavier soils.”
McMillin says horseradish growers like his father used a bottom plow and harvested the roots with a potato fork to load onto wagons. Today, McMillin uses forklifts and two Massey Ferguson® 4243 tractors.
“We need a 150-HP tractor to pull the two-row potato harvester we modified. Alongside the digger, we have a dump cart that takes 80 to 100 HP. It catches the horseradish from the harvester. We elevate the cart to dump our loads over the side of the truck, so we don’t have to drive the truck through the field.”
The Massey Ferguson tractors provide the power McMillin needs. “I’ve had very good luck with Massey Ferguson equipment. I’ve owned at least four tractors and have leased some. They’ve been reliable, good tractors.”
Adds McMillin about his Massey Ferguson equipment: “I realize how much innovation they put into tractors. A lot of other companies use improvements that Massey came up with. They’ve always been a leader. It’s a good brand.”
Read the fully story at http://www.myfarmlife.com/features/horseradish-is-a-crop-with-punch/.
With continuous introductions of customer-focused innovations, Massey Ferguson® builds upon a history that spans three centuries and its full line of equipment. Listed here are just a few of the latest advancements available on its compact, utility and midsize tractors, and how they can make the work you do more productive, safer and comfortable.
More choices, more options. With 28 different models between 22.5 and 150 engine HP within seven different series, choices in compact and midsize tractors are nearly unlimited—especially with the option of 2- or 4-wheel-drive on a number of models, cab or open platform, and a choice of transmissions. In many cases, there’s even a choice between premium, deluxe and classic versions within the same horsepower class. Massey Ferguson allows you to purchase what you need—no more and no less.
Steel construction. From the largest Massey Ferguson tractors to the smallest 1700E Series offerings, you’ll find fenders, hoods and platforms made from steel for rugged durability, as well as stability and comfort on uneven ground.
Dedicated engines. Except for a few light-duty models, all Massey Ferguson tractors are equipped with direct-injection diesel engines that deliver dependable power and torque. The 4600, 5600 and 6600 series tractors, in fact, are all powered by AGCO POWER™ engines, which are specifically designed for agricultural applications—not for dual-purpose uses in forklifts and other machines. Such dedicated design allows for better per-liter performance and smaller, power-packed engines, translating into more powerful tractors and roomier cabs.
Innovative transmissions. Each Massey Ferguson tractor is matched with the best transmission available. For instance, the GC1700 Series offers a standard two-range hydrostatic transmission, while the 12-speed power shuttle in the 4600 Series allows for faster forward/reverse shuttling and speed choices. The venerable Dyna-4 is standard equipment in the 5600 and 6600 Series. This semi-powershift, which automatically and smoothly shifts gears, has four Dynashift ratios that can be shifted up or down under full load within four electro-hydraulically selected main ranges. The 6600 offers two other choices, including the Dyna-6 (same as Dyna-4 but with 24 speeds) and the Dyna-VT CVT, making it the first mid-range tractor to offer a continuously variable transmission.
High-flow hydraulics. Class-leading hydraulic systems move more gallons of oil per minute, so attachments like loaders and implements deliver fast operation and quick response. The use of multiple pumps also means you never have to sacrifice productivity in one system, such as steering, to get extra power to another. Mid-range tractors offer a choice of open center or closed center hydraulics to meet the specific needs of the customer.
Ultimate comfort. Massey Ferguson engineers recognize that comfort translates into productivity. That’s why you’ll find features like a flat deck that adds roominess as well as safety, cabs borrowed from our high-horsepower models and otherwise unheard-of options on a midsize tractor, like cab suspension and a suspended front axle.
For more information on Massey Ferguson compact, utility and mid-sized tractors, visit masseyferguson.us.