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AGCO and SDI: More Power, Less Compaction

Nate Ray has some 25,000 hungry mouths to feed—all of them the bovine beauties at De Jager Farms’ eight dairies in California’s Central Valley. Specifically, Ray oversees operations on De Jager’s 17,000 acres of farmland, most of which is used to grow corn, wheat and alfalfa.

Over the years, Ray has helped introduce new practices at the farm, including subsurface drip irrigation (SDI). Yet, as is often the case, one change begets another, as when the use of SDI created an even greater need to reduce compaction.

Ray found the solution in the form of a Challenger® MT865E. “We chose this Challenger track machine for our minimum-tillage operations,” says Ray, “and basically it was to reduce our compaction and just to give us more power to the ground that we weren’t getting with our John Deere machines. The Challenger,” which he says has also reduced fuel usage, has “provided more torque, more pulling power and greater efficiency.”

Ray and De Jager also recently switched to AGCO windrowers. “Over the course of two years,” says Ray, “we tried out just about every brand on the market, from New Holland to John Deere to MacDon to Case, and we pretty much fell in love with the AGCO machines.”

In the course of making the change—to two Challenger and two Massey Ferguson® WR9760 self-propelled windrowers—Ray was also able to actually reduce the number of windrowers from six, while making the seven to eight cuttings of alfalfa per year on the same acreage in less time and using less fuel. What’s more, he says, the quality of the cutting is “on par, if not better, with the AGCO rotary heads.”

As for his AGCO dealership, “We’ve been working with Holt of California for about four years now, and their service has been excellent. Their expertise and knowledge of the machines has enabled us to run them to their maximum performance. And we’ve just had a great working relationship with them. They’ve provided excellent customer support.”

For more, see http://www.myfarmlife.com/features/going-underground-irrigation-breakthroughs-in-drought-stricken-california/.

AGCO Equipment Helps This Family Farm Get More Work Done with Less Labor

Jim Fontaine says he’s not interested in getting bigger as a business; he and his family have found an economic sweet spot in their dairy operation (see more about it here). But that doesn’t mean he and brother Steve aren’t growing their equipment inventory. In fact, their do-it-themselves approach to efficiency means the equipment needs to work harder, cost less to run and go easier on the operator.

The Fontaine family

The Fontaine family

That’s why they converted from another brand to a shop full of AGCO solutions, including equipment from Challenger,® Massey Ferguson,® Hesston,® Sunflower® and White Planters.™

“For the two bigger Challengers, we traded in two Case Magnums,” says Jim. “You feel like you got banged around in that [Case]. When you’re on the bunk and you’re shifting, you have to go through all those gears to shift, and it’s just a lot of jerking.”

Their Massey Ferguson and Challenger tractors share the CVT transmission, and with that, “the front-end suspension and the cab suspension, it’s just a good package because it’s all working together,” says Jim.

Adds Steve: “You get out of the tractor and you can stand up straight,” he laughs. “Nothing hurts on your body.”

The tractors work perfectly with their Sunflower 6630 tillage tool, yet another AGCO piece in their arsenal. “With another brand of tractor, when we would drop the implement in the ground, it would stall,” says Jim. Not so with the Challengers.

The experts at Java Farm Supply, the Fontaines’ dealership, also believed Jim and Steve would benefit from a larger hay baler; when the brothers were last looking for a baler, they decided on the Hesston 2170XD. “It makes a nice bale, it doesn’t fall apart, and it weighs 1,200 pounds versus the small ones that weigh 900. There are less bales to store and haul,” says Steve. And it’s better for bunk too. “You carry two bales out, and you have more hay on the bunk for the TMR mixer,” he says.

Jim and Steve don’t see themselves going back to “the other brand.” “The more you hop into the Challenger or the Massey Ferguson, the more comfortable you feel,” Jim says. “I told the dealership: ‘You should put one of these tractors on every farm.’”

For the full story on the Fontaine Farms, including a video about the family’s business philosophy, see http://www.myfarmlife.com/features/a-family-farm-in-the-economic-sweet-spot/.

Storing Profits on the Farm

Stephen Sork knew from the time he was in fifth grade that working on the farm—being with his father, Ernie, grandfather, Marshall, and uncle, Vernon Gwaltney—was the life for him. “Dad and my uncle always let me help out,” says Steve, still a youthful-looking 45. “I loved it.”

Stephen Sork

Stephen Sork

What goes around comes around. Now Steve and wife, Amy, can foresee the day when their children might want to be a part of their Fairfield, Ill.-based Sork Farms. Their five children are all waiting in the wings.

Generally, producers who want to accommodate additional generations have to grow, monitor expenses and maximize income. Steve, who is now partner in the operation with Ernie, is doing all the above.

For instance, during the past few years the two Sorks grew commodity corn, soybeans and wheat—with an occasional small foray into specialty crops, such as food-grade corn—on about 5,500 acres. That’s nearly double what they were farming 10 years ago.

In addition to farming more acreage, income growth has also come by watching markets. To hold their grain until the price is right, the Sorks have 500,000 bushels worth of storage, enough to hold 75% of the corn they harvest in an average year. Half that capacity was added methodically over the past decade.

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FarmLife: Spring 2016 Issue Is Ready to Read

0216issuesHFarmLife—our exclusive customer magazine—is now covering all AGCO brands in North America— Fendt, Challenger and Massey Ferguson—in print and online at myFarmLife.com.

Check out the spring issue, out now, for the following stories and more:

A FarmLife Special Report: Passing on the Farm
Succession remains one of the most pressing and critical issues on the farm. In the magazine—and with additional articles online—we offer readers advice from the experts on how to get started, protect assets and keep peace in the family.

In His Hay Day
Barry Schmitt and family run one of the largest commercial hay operations in Canada. We explore how they meet a demanding schedule and protect a hard-earned, global reputation for high-quality product. One very big reason why: The Schmitts rely on multiple AGCO brands.

Sweet Spot
Fontaine Farm has earned the National Dairy Quality Award for three consecutive years and achieved “New York Supermilk” status for more than 20 years. Members of the Fontaine family credit their success to following a rigorous routine, ensuring cow comfort and working with top-tier partners, such as AGCO brands.

Peaks and Valleys
A couple restores a bucolic farmstead and realizes a dream. They cleared overgrown pastures, fixed fences and protected water sources from livestock. It was a herculean task made all the easier with the help of their two small, yet brawny Massey Ferguson tractors.

Storing Profits
Growth, efficiency and innovation are key to making room for additional generations on the farm. One such farmer did all the above with Challenger tractors and GSI storage and handling solutions. See how they’ve helped him prepare for the future, as well as improve his bottom line.

Read these stories and more in the spring 2016 issue of FarmLife— now covering all Fendt, Challenger, and Massey Ferguson brands in print and online at myFarmLife.com.

For more, see http://www.myfarmlife.com/inside-the-magazine/browse-the-spring-2016-issue-of-farmlife/.

Bashkortostan seminar presents compelling case for strip-till

The substantial cost savings and yield increases achieved by strip-till and no-till cultivation techniques were key talking points at a major seminar and demonstration at Krasnaya Bashkiria farm in Bashkortostan.

Challenger_striptill_7600

Held jointly by AGCO and its Dealer Delta Agriculture, the event was also supported by Bashkortostan’s Ministry of Agriculture. Among the 50 guests were representatives of the Ministry, local district authorities and heads of the largest farms in the region. Machines on display from AGCO brands included the Challenger 7610 strip-till cultivator and Challenger 9830 air-seeder.

Strip-till is a relatively new tillage method being introduced into farming practice in Eastern Europe and is gaining ground among sunflower and maize growers looking to boost both efficiency and productivity. It is classed as a conservation system which uses Conventional and No-Till tillage to promote sustainable farming. It combines the soil-drying and warming benefits of conventional tillage, with the soil-protecting advantages of conservation tillage. The strip-till technique involves disturbing only the portion of soil (or strip) that will contain the seedbed row. It leaves the residue of a prior crop between the new crop’s growing-rows. Chemicals and fertiliser can also be applied at the same time as tillage.

Guests at the AGCO demonstration event were greeted by Mr Rail Fakhrislamov, owner of the 16,000 ha Krasnaya Bashkiria and Mr Ildar Nasyrov Deputy Minister of Agriculture. Professor Khalil Safin from the Russian Academy of Sciences kicked off the day’s agenda with a presentation on the application of new technologies in agriculture.

Delta Agriculture’s Rinat Amirov gave a detailed insight into the benefits of Challenger strip-till cultivators. “The case for strip-till is compelling,” he says. “The prime costs of sunflower and maize production decrease by 30-40% thanks to lower fuel, labour and fertiliser inputs. On top of that, there is less soil erosion, while spring sowing can be started earlier. All in all, growers can expect yield increases of 20-30%.”

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