Posts Tagged ‘FarmLife’
The beads of perspiration forming on Monte Innes’ forehead are swelling but not yet heavy enough to succumb to gravity. It is early August, a sunny 80 degrees Fahrenheit, and he’s leaning against a large square bale amid a 480-acre strip of land along the Ohio Creek in south-central Colorado.
“This is a real harsh area to work in,” says Monte, 43, who cuts and bales hay on nearly 6,000 acres tucked piecemeal into high, arid mountain valleys up to an hour-and-a-half apart. “The cold can settle into this valley here in the winter and it’ll be 35 below for days.
“Every valley has its own microclimate,” he continues, “and in the spring and summer, rainfall can vary tremendously from one hay field to the next all within a few miles of each other. You just kind of roll with the punches.”
On this particular day, however, the Ohio Creek Valley resembles paradise. Mountains rise up around us on three sides. Most grand are the Anthracites directly to the north.
Acres worth of grass have already been cut and laid down by Monte. In an adjacent field, his wife Julie is running the baler, dropping large rectangular blocks in her wake. Across the valley lush grasses—timothy, red top, brome and clover—fed by recent, unusually heavy rains, beg to be harvested.
Monte and Julie picked up an additional 900 acres worth of hay to farm this year, in large part because of their new Hesston® by Massey Ferguson WR9770 windrower. Their new customer had seen the clean, close cut the Inneses had achieved on a nearby property and realized his existing custom balers were leaving money in the fields.
“This is the third RazorBar disc header we’ve had, and we wouldn’t own anything else,” Monte says. “We get all the hay. It is a clean cut an inch from the ground.”
He also appreciates the speed with which the machine can travel. “It is awesome traveling down the road at 20 mph from one field to another,” he continues, noting how important that speed is when you’re working numerous scattered fields.
The windrower is quick in the field, too. “Today I cut 180 acres in six-and-a-half hours,” he says, “and I couldn’t have done that with any other machine.”
Their dealer, Luke Sharpe, of Sharpe Equipment and Irrigation in Salida, says that the care and ability of the operators also play a role in how well the couple do their jobs. “Monte and Julie work their butts off, and their hay quality is phenomenal,” he says.
Their new Hesston by Massey Ferguson 2170 XD baler, which is being pulled by an MF6495 tractor, is making and saving them money, too. “Our new baler is a home run for us,” Monte says.
The 2170 XD produces bales that are denser, heavier. Because of that, they can now get 26 to 27 tons of hay on a semi trailer truck for shipment, rather than 22 tons.
“That saves us about 50 loads per season,” says Monte, “which saves us about $25,000 in shipping costs.”
As for the tractor, “it is phenomenal on fuel running the baler,” Monte says. “I kept calling the dealership saying, ‘I think the fuel gauge is wrong.’
“It wasn’t broke; it was just getting that much better fuel economy.”
The Saunders family is on their eighth generation raising crops close to Shelbina near the Salt River and Black Creek in northeast Missouri. Ancestor Henry Saunders traveled here from Kentucky in 1833, and by 1837 was hand-making the bricks and cutting down the walnut trees used in the construction of the two-story home in which Phillip Saunders lives today.
Phillip, 55, laughs that he’s been using Massey Ferguson® and AGCO equipment for nearly as long. “I have seven generations in the shed,” says Saunders, whose sons, Chris and now Luke, are part of the operation.
“When I was a kid, our neighbor had a Massey-Harris tractor,” Phillip says. “That was my first acquaintance and I liked those tractors.” The first tractor he owned was a 1976 MF1105. “That tractor was excellent for us, and that’s where my strong feelings for the brand began,” he says.
His devotion over the years also included numerous AGCO models, such as the 9695 and the 9655. “Those were very strong, heavy-built tractors—very good tractors.”
The new flagship of the family operation—purchased from The Farm Shop, in Edina, Mo.—is the 225-hp Massey Ferguson 8660 tractor with a Dyna VT™ continuously variable transmission. Saunders raves about the power and the fuel consumption.
“This tractor is bigger and more powerful than our previous main one, but it uses 20% less fuel,” Phillip says. “It really adds up to a lot of savings.” The MF8660 also has the additional hydraulic power needed to run the air pumps on their new planters.
As for cab comfort, Phillip didn’t give it much thought at the time of purchase. Now, after logging scores of hours in the machine the past year, he’s a believer in the hydraulic suspension in the cab. “I don’t know what else you could do in terms of comfort. I’d like to have another one just like it,” he says.
As Massey Ferguson® rolls out its newest tractor series, one Georgia farmer takes time from his busy schedule to try out a demo.
For Lee Powers, time is at a premium. Most days he’s out of the house around 5:30 a.m. to feed and check on at least one of his two herds that he raises on two separate tracks. He also owns a construction business with the majority of the work—mostly commercial buildings, such as doctors’ offices—located in metro Atlanta, approximately 50 miles east of his home and farmland.
Still, he scratched out a little time when Roger Harrod, his Massey Ferguson dealer at Georgia Deer Farm & Agri-Center in the small community of Roopville, approached him with a proposition.
Roger had a demo model of a new MF4609 tractor. It’s one of three models in the Massey Ferguson 4600 Series that has received considerable press and been eagerly awaited by many farmers for its reported versatility and leading-edge technologies, including a 3.3-liter, 3-cylinder engine that’s said to be extremely efficient and powerful.
“It’s a nice, all-around-size tractor for somebody like Lee,” says Roger. “It’s for guys who aren’t full-time farmers, but they want to keep their place up. I’d say it’s a good hay tractor—perfect for cutting and bush hogging.”
Lee is already a Massey Ferguson customer—the owner of two tractors, an MF573 and MF5455. “The 5455 is the best tractor I’ve ever had in the hay field. Period,” says Lee. “I’ve been on all kinds of tractors, and it has spoiled me.” He says he’s enjoyed the MF5455 so much because everything is right at his fingertips, there’s plenty of power, and the visibility is wonderful.
Since Lee first bought the land, Frank has helped with his son’s farms, a 100-acre spread in Carrollton, Ga., where they raise 50 Black Angus cattle, and a 40-acre tract with about 22 head of Herefords in Hogansville. With other side hay jobs they have acquired—including managing a 205-acre tract of land belonging to the city of Hogansville—Lee estimates they cut and bale around 700 acres of hay twice and sometimes three times per year.
That translates to lots and lots of hay, factors they kept in mind during their time with the MF4609. As it is with many farmers, fuel usage was near the top of their list of concerns. To that end, Lee and Frank were happy with the 3-cylinder AGCO Power engine. “It seems to be fuel-efficient,” says Frank. “I was able to bush hog all day on a full tank.”
They also were looking for something to provide the power they needed. “I have been very, very pleased with the power it has,” says Lee. “As far as pulling, it is perfect for running a 15-foot bush hog. We were even cutting some wet stuff, and it was pulling through there just fine.”
The new power shuttle transmission was also a plus. “The transmission is smooth,” says Lee. “It’s like the cat’s meow. You can shift on the go, and the clutch is easy.”
Lee is already envisioning how an MF4609 might play a significant role on his farms, especially when it comes to raking, cutting and baling hay.
“There’s a 99.9% chance I’m going to buy that tractor,” he says.
To read the full story and to learn more about three key features of the MF4609 that separate it from the pack, visit http://www.myfarmlife.com/features/time-is-money/. To find out when you can check out a new Massey Ferguson 4600 Series tractor, contact your local dealer.
“There are only a few things we can control,” says hay grower Brett Bunker about farming. “So anything I can do to give me an advantage, I need to do it.”
Bunker says he gets the edge he needs with AGCO Buffered Acid Hay Preservative and his HayBoss G2™, a precision monitoring and automatic preservative application system. Both help guarantee his hay quality by dealing with moisture levels in his bales. They also help him maintain his growing cycle of four crops a year on the 1,000 acres near Delta, Utah, where he and his family grow alfalfa to sell to dairy farmers.
“If I get too much dew overnight, I can still bale and get my hay out of the field with a little higher moisture. Or if I need to bale before a rain and push it a little bit, I can do that instead of letting the storm hit, then letting it dry back down again.
“The quicker I can get hay off the field,” adds Bunker, “the better the hay and the quicker I can get growing on the next crop. [HayBoss] can save me anywhere from a half a day to even on the outside of five days.”
“Often, the producer can’t wait for things like the dew to dry, and we understand that,” says Jeff Roberts, president of Harvest Tec, the company that manufactures HayBoss and AGCO Buffered Acid Hay Preservative, and markets them through AGCO Parts. “The main benefit with HayBoss and the preservative is that extended operating window, by raising the level of moisture at which hay can be baled.”
Roberts adds that HayBoss provides the producer peace of mind. Its moisture monitoring and application offer accuracy unmatched in the industry, and they work seamlessly with Hesston balers.
“The AGCO Buffered Acid Hay Preservative is also made with the same care and consistency. That makes it far more reliable than other brands and totally safe for animals, the environment, the operators and their equipment.
“With HayBoss,” Roberts continues, “the grower gains confidence that their window is expanded into the upper ranges … as high as 27% moisture for large square balers and slightly higher for round and small square bales. That,” he adds, “has the potential to be a good contributor to overall profitability.”
Steve Snider still follows the advice of his late father and plans to hand it off, along with the family farm, to the next generation.
Winter farm work in Lerna, Ill., was typically slow. So, Bill Snider encouraged his teenage son Steve to spend those days looking off the farm for productive things to do. The young man occupied his time with odd jobs, including a stint as an equipment operator at a landfill. He also completed computer science courses at the nearby college after the subject piqued his interest.
However, the elder Snider’s nudging served a purpose greater than earning extra money or filling the idle hours. It was a proverbial push from the nest.
“Looking back, Dad was urging me to get out and not just be dependent on the farm,” says Steve, who is now 38. “He wanted me to broaden my spectrum on the world … to get a sense of the world and how other bosses are, to see how things work differently.”
But Steve says his dad was the best boss of them all. “He taught me about management,” says Steve. “Not to overextend yourself. Stay within your means. Try to be a good steward of the ground. And he taught me about conservation, so you don’t lose what you’ve got.”
Steve’s off-the-farm experiences just seemed to make him appreciate his family’s corn and bean operation all the more. “I decided that coming back to the farm was the only thing to do,” he says. “It still felt right.”
Bill eventually fell ill, and when he passed last Leap Day, Steve was grief-stricken but ready to take over. Today, Steve manages about 1,600 acres, with close to 1,400 of those planted in corn and beans. Another 40 of those acres are dedicated to a herd of roughly 20 Black Angus cattle. The rest are wooded areas.
Steve says the legacy of that land was very important to his father. Because of that, Bill’s wish was that upon his death, the farm would be placed in an irrevocable land trust, stipulating that it remain intact and in the Snider family through two more generations.
“We just didn’t want someone else coming in and taking it away,” says Steve’s mother Barb. “That’s what Steve’s grandpa would have wanted too. He worked hard for that.”
For expert advice on land trusts, and to read why Bill and Steve Snider switched from Deere to Massey Ferguson equipment (hint: better fuel efficiency and comfort), visit http://www.myfarmlife.com/features/a-fathers-guidance/.