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Massey Ferguson Tractors Support Farmer’s Bid for Energy Independence

Herefordshire (UK), turkey farmer, Clive Thomas, is aiming to make his farm totally energy-independent over the next five years . . . and he is using Massey Ferguson tractors to help him achieve his goal.

Clive Thomas 4Growing around 80ha of wheat and grass with son, Kelvyn, within the E and GM Thomas & Son family partnership, Clive’s principal enterprise for the past 25 years has been turkey-rearing, an operation that sees 90,000 birds reared each year under contract to Cranberry Foods. All of the wheat harvested on the farm is fed to the turkeys with the straw being used as bedding litter for birds that grow from 2kg to 19kg over 12 weeks.

Fan ventilation of the seven turkey-rearing sheds is an essential part of the operation and had been costing the business around £5,000 a month in electricity bills. This figure has been steadily reducing since the installation of an 800-panel solar photovoltaic array in fields close to the farm buildings.

Capable of producing up to 200kW/hr in full midday summer sunlight, the investment is expected to pay for itself within seven years. “Any surplus electricity produced is being fed back into the grid,” explained Clive. “Although the money we receive per unit is falling, the cost savings being made plus the income we are generating should see our investment repaid before the end of the decade.”

An important requirement of solar panels is the control of surrounding vegetation to prevent shading of the photovoltaic cells while permitting easy inspection and cleaning of the installation, when necessary. Mowing of the solar avenues and of paddocks around the farmstead, as well as the movement of smaller loads and materials around the farm, has been entrusted to a 46hp MF 1547 compact tractor supplied, in common with Clive Thomas’s other Massey Ferguson equipment, by MF dealer, JJ Farm Services Ltd, based near Winchcombe, Gloucestershire.

“I asked dealer sales representative, Ben Johnson, if MF offered a small, manoeuvrable tractor capable of powering a flail mower and a rotary cultivator,” said Clive. “He proposed the MF 1547 with a 12 x 12 synchro-shuttle manual transmission. The tractor has proved a revelation, having ample power for cutting back quite lengthy grass between the solar panels and for cultivating areas of uneven or rutted ground prior to levelling and restoration.”

To complement the generation of solar power, Clive is now planning the installation of a twin bio-digester unit fuelled by a combination of turkey manure, grass silage and green-cut wheat. The methane gas produced by the bio-digester will power engine-driven generators capable of supplying the farm’s entire electricity demand, including the farmhouse, enabling all of the electricity produced by the solar panels to be fed back into the grid.

Clive plans also to utilise all of the waste material from the bio-digester, either spreading it onto land as fertiliser or compressing it into briquettes for sale as fuel. Coolant water heated by the engines will not be wasted either, being used to provide hot water for the workshop and other farm buildings.

“Both my grandfather and father used Ferguson and Massey Ferguson tractors successfully, starting way back in the early 1950s,” explained Clive. “I have maintained this long association, currently employing two MF 6480s and an MF 6290 for all primary and secondary field operations ranging from cultivations to fertiliser spreading and spraying to haulage. We also run an MF 7256 Cerea combine.”

The farm’s latest number one tractor is a 255hp MF 7626 with Dyna-6 transmission delivered by JJ Farm Services in February this year to replace a 215hp MF 6499. Bought primarily to operate a 3m combination drill and, eventually, the forage harvester supplying green matter to feed the bio-digester, the tractor was selected foremost with power in mind.

“When fully operational, our energy generation systems will demand a consistent and reliable supply of material to maintain maximum output,” explained Clive. “Having used Massey Ferguson tractors on the farm for almost 60 years, we have every confidence in their ability to deliver the necessary performance, backed by first-class and dependable dealer support.”

Massey Ferguson Children’s Character “Little Grey Fergie” Opens a Dedicated Attraction at Norway Theme Park

The Land of the Little Grey Fergie  – Gråtassland – opened in grand style in Stavanger Norway on 4 June.

This fantastic brand-new attraction area at the Kongeparken in Stavanger is a celebration of the children’s character ‘Little Grey Fergie’ (Gråtass) which is based on an original Ferguson TE 20 tractor. Over the last 20 years the original story of his adventures, written by Morten Myklebust, has grown into two feature film hits, a TV series, several stage shows and DVDs, plus a brand-new production filmed in England which is available on the itnernet and features a full-size live-action tractor.

Photo Kjersti R. DolvikUltra-modern technology has been employed at Kongeparken, one of Scandinavia’s foremost theme parks, to ensure Little Grey Fergie comes to life for visitors. “It’s like walking into the movie!” says Håkon Lund, CEO of Kongeparken.

Visitors will be welcomed by the character himself and will also be able to meet the animals on the farm at the petting zoo. An exciting tractor ride takes visitors through the captivating story of Little Grey Fergie and his friends. There are also play tractors and an old country store. Bringing things right up to date, there is the chance to experience one of the very latest Massey Ferguson tractors especially adjusted for kids.

Massey Ferguson Norwegian dealer – Eiksenteret – and the dealership chain are key partners in this exciting new project along with Fantasifabrikken A/S, the production company behind Gråtass.

With the opening of Gråtassland in Stavanger, the Ferguson TE 20 is effectively returning to its origins in Norway. More than 60 years ago not far from the town, Christian Eik started to import the tractor into the country from England. His pioneering work played an important part in laying the foundations for mechanised agriculture in Norway.

“As importers of Massey Ferguson today, we want to make sure that the history of the Little Grey Fergie is embraced, along with the Massey Ferguson brand name,” says Trond Kjempekjenn, General Sales Manager, AGCO Norway/ Eikmaskin a/s. “We have a very good partnership with Kongeparken – Fergie is in the best hands. Gråtassland will be a great place for the whole family to enjoy. Fergie has many fans both in Norway and abroad. Children and grown-ups alike can now share their fun with him as he returns ‘home’ to Stavanger.”

Find out more on Gråtassland at www.kongeparken.no
You can watch the live-action series at www.littlegreyfergie.com

Small Hay, Big Needs

Hammann walks with his son, Jason, who kicks in some much-needed help at harvest time.

Hammann walks with his son, Jason, who kicks in some much-needed help at harvest time.

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 checks over a 600-pound round bale made with his Hesston 1734 baler.

Thalman checks over a 600-pound round bale made with his Hesston 1734 baler.

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.”

Read the full story at http://www.myfarmlife.com/features/small-hay-operations-have-big-needs/.

New Zealand AGCO Dealers Put on a Night to Remember

325 AGCO customers attended the Manfield launch of the MF6600 Series and Fendt 500 Vario.

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.

Smoke Signals

Sweet, sticky, delicious ... and a family farm business.

Sweet, sticky, delicious … and a family farm business.

For a few weeks in winter or early spring, a talisman of sorts rises between the trees throughout rural Vermont. It is many places at once, yet the source, hidden amongst the hills, mountains and hollers, is not so disparate. On days when the wind is relatively still, these specter-like columns, comprised of smoke and vapor, can be seen for miles, beaconing those in the know.

They drive and trek, and as these seekers near their destinations, a faint yet familiar scent of something sweet intensifies the allure and further reinforces behavior learned from parents and grandparents, many of whom visited these same sites.

As is the tradition, these visitors are welcome. In from the cold and great outdoors, they enter the confines of cozy huts, known as sugarhouses, where the senses are greeted by steam and fragrance percolating off maple sap at the boiling point, and by the warmth of friends.

“It’s kind of like a big visiting contest,” says Hope Colburn, who along with her husband, Mark, runs Colburn’s Village View Maples, a sugaring operation near Glover, Vt. “During sugaring, people here drive around town to look for the steam and smoke from the sugaring, and they go from sugarhouse to sugarhouse … to be a part of this tradition, to witness it and visit. Of course, it dates back to … ” she pauses and laughs, “till who knows, but it’s definitely part of the heritage.”

From Vermont to Eastern Canada and across the prairie’s northern tier, sugaring—which typically lasts three to four weeks, beginning as early as January and ending as late as April—has signaled the end of winter. When daytime high temperatures reach the 40s (Fahrenheit) and nights dip back down into the 20s, a pressure is created in several varieties of maple trees, forcing the trees’ sugary sap to rise and flow out of breaks in the bark, whether natural or man-made.

Natives of these regions learned to collect the sap and boil it down long before Europeans arrived. They had their own rituals surrounding its collection and transformation into syrup, yet the addition of a warm sugarhouse has certainly added to that allure for the modern-era visitor. So have doughnuts.

“We go through a lot of them during sugaring season,” says Hope. Her mom makes the sinkers by the dozens, using maple syrup from the Colburns’ sugarhouse to feed those who visit at this critical time, when a year’s worth of nature’s and man’s work gets boiled down, literally, into sticky gold. Good friends help pass the time.

A sure-footed tractor helps the Colburns check tubing during sugaring.

Read the full story and watch Mark Colburn talk about why Massey Ferguson is twice the tractor of the lesser brands at http://www.myfarmlife.com/features/smoke-signals/.