Along with three brothers and a son, Smith – a pedigree forage seed producer in the Oakbank/Dugald area – farms about 3300 acres. Smith’s Honey and Seed Farm produces perennial ryegrass, meadow fescue, timothy, orchardgrass, alfalfa and birdsfoot trefoil, along with rotation crops winter wheat, spring wheat, oats, canola and soybeans.
The Smiths’ forage seed production is under contract and, typically, the length of the contract for seed varieties is three to five years. These are generally the most productive years, and if left longer, weeds become more of an issue. Smith says many of the forages tend to produce a wonderful crop the first year, a good crop the second year, but by the third year the yield drops off dramatically.
“The timothy yields fall off less than some of the other grasses,” he says. “Meadow fescue can produce a wonderful crop the first year. The second year is okay, and then it really takes a nosedive.”
Smith felt the drop in productivity might be because of his heavy clay soil. As a result, several years ago, he decided to change up his tillage system. “We decided to try tillage to rejuvenate these fields with a deep tiller that has a narrow point,” he says. “But as soon as we’d get in there, we’d start creating a field that was extremely rough with sods. We did see a slight improvement, but not anything to write home about.”
So two years ago this fall, Smith tried using a demo vertical tillage unit in the forage fields. “I went into portions of a grass field and ran around some drains [shallow ditches] that were extremely rough with ruts from the sprayer going up and down to see what would happen to the field,” explains Smith. The next year, the timothy and orchardgrass crops showed great improvement.
In spring 2012, Smith purchased a Salford 41 foot Independent 2100 vertical tillage unit. “I went out that spring and did some more passes – going up and down the field on an angle, doing part of the field and then leaving the rest,” he says. “Come harvest, in the orchardgrass field, you could see where I went up and down the drains and where I worked the one side of the field the previous fall. The crop actually produced more heads; you could see a big difference. At that point, we figured we were on to something.
“Now, we’ve gone in and harvested the crop and worked our fields in the fall after harvest – going in and working it twice with the vertical tillage unit.”
Smith admits to being new to the many benefits of using a vertical tillage unit, but is so far very impressed with the results. “I have a meadow fescue going into its third year of production and we have gone through it twice with the vertical tillage after harvest,” he says.
Most of Smith’s forage grasses are harvested relatively early – anywhere from the end of July to the end of August – and this is followed by chopping and spreading the crop residue. After about a week, when things become dry, Smith goes back in to do another pass with the vertical tillage unit. To date, he hasn’t seen any crop damage or other negative impact from vertical tillage on the grasses when it comes to over-wintering – only improvements.
Although still on a learning curve, Smith says some of the benefits of using the vertical tillage unit he has seen so far include getting more water infiltration into the soil by opening up the soil. “We’re also getting rid of some of the sod-bound conditions, possibly forcing the plants to grow some new roots.”
The biggest production issue Smith has experienced over the last two years is having very dry weather, which affects his yields. But overall, Smith says, “We think we’re on to something here, and I’d like to see other people try it too and confirm what we’re getting out of it.
“This machine works well without making a mess on the field. It’s also something we can use elsewhere on the farm with our regular cropping practices.”
Smith uses the vertical tillage unit in several of his other fields to break out the sod, effectively getting the field back into what Smith calls “a conventional cropping system.”
“It does a nice job of finishing the field off for next spring for seeding, making a really nice seed bed,” he notes. “We’ve switched to a disc drill seeding unit which doesn’t move any dirt, as we’ve found it to be very important to have a properly prepared seed bed. The vertical tillage unit works well in this area.”
Smith uses vertical tillage in his alfalfa fields in spring as well, which he says has helped in managing the previous year’s residue and in smoothing out the soil. “We’ve never baled the alfalfa,” he notes. “We chop and spread it, working it in with the tillage for residue management in the spring.
“In the grass fields, it gets rid of the trash well enough for us that we no longer need to bale any of the grass seed fields. So we’re not losing nutrients from our straw. Not baling also reduces compaction.”
Smith hopes that, by using the vertical tillage unit to maintain his forage fields, he will get three or four years of consistent production. “At this point, the stands look good. Time will tell how we do from here.”
Canada got on the Tier 4 bandwagon in 1999, when the federal government passed the Off-Road Compression-Ignition Engine Emission Regulations, which fall under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act. These standards were applicable to 2006-and-later diesel engines such as those found in agriculture and construction machinery.
“The standards, which are aligned with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards, were amended to include the EPA Tier 4 emission standards starting in 2012,” says Danny Kingsberry, a media relations officer at Environment Canada. “The upgrade to Tier 4 emissions standards for off-road diesel engines provides significant benefits in terms of improved air quality and reduced exposure to air pollutants and toxic substances.”
At this point, manufacturers already must meet Tier 4 Interim standards for some horsepower ranges, and must meet Tier 4 Final by Jan. 1, 2014, for equipment larger than 175 hp. They have an additional year to make sure equipment between 75 to 175 hp meets the regulations.
These are the two emissions-reduction systems being used:
- With Cooled Exhaust Gas Recirculation (CEGR), exhaust is fed back into the combustion chamber. This reduces the formation of nitrogen oxides. A Diesel Oxidation Catalyst (DOC) and Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF) are used to reduce particulates.
- With Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR), exhaust gases pass over a catalyst in the presence of Diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF, an ammonia-and-water-based substance), and nitrogen oxides are broken down into harmless nitrogen and water.
Tractor engines fall somewhere in between, with steady RPMs needed for jobs like spraying a uniform field but variable power demands required for other tasks. For that reason, and because the Tier 4 Final standards are so much stricter than Tier 3, some tractor manufacturers like John Deere will likely employ both CEGR and SCR for Tier 4 Final.
Roger Hoy, director at the Nebraska Tractor Test Lab (the officially designated tractor testing station for the United States), says, “Cummins has confirmed with me that they will use both.” He notes that full power can be achieved with either SCR or CEGR individually, but that CEGR uses a little more fuel.
AGCO is another company using both types of technology to meet Tier 4 Final requirements, but it is using its patented SCR with only a small amount of CEGR to ensure nitrogen oxides are reduced in the cylinder. “This combination provides our customers fuel economy benefits, lower fluid consumption (fuel and DEF), longer engine service intervals and longer engine life,” says Conor Bergin, AGCO’s product marketing manager for high-horsepower tractors.
Other tractor makers, including New Holland and Case IH, are using only SCR. Leo Bose, commercial product training manager with Case IH, says his company chose SCR over CEGR because carbon in recirculated exhaust can be deposited into engine oil, creating the possibility of wear. “Using our patented SCR system allows our high-horsepower tractors and combines to lengthen service intervals,” he says, adding that it also keeps things simpler in terms of overall design to use only one system.
Operation and maintenance
The development and physical cost of any new add-on technology such as SCR or CEGR is, of course, passed on to the customer. On the positive side, however – besides the benefit of cleaner air – there is good news in that no action is needed to manage Tier 4 technologies by the tractor operator during ongoing operation.
During ongoing CEGR operation, the DPF filter is automatically “regenerated” (the particulate matter in the filter is reduced to ash) in three ways. The emissions-reduction interface in the cab lets the operator know what’s occurring. Passive regeneration occurs during ongoing operation, and active regeneration occurs when sensors detect that particulate matter has accumulated to a certain level in the filter. Diesel fuel is injected into the exhaust to increase its temperature. Sensors also indicate when forced regeneration is required. The engine must sit idle while the engine control unit conducts a very high temperature cycle. The ash that remains is not combustible and must be cleaned out. However, regulations require that this situation occur only after at least 4,500 hours of engine use, and some manufacturers claim it need only be done once or twice in the lifetime of the tractor. Low-ash engine oil with a CJ-4 rating is a must. The only maintenance required with SCR systems is checking the DEF filter and refilling the DEF tank when needed.
Companies are touting Tier 4 tractors as the most fuel-efficient ever, but that has nothing to do with Tier 4 technologies. As Barry Nelson, John Deere’s media relations manager, agriculture and turf division, points out, Tier 4 emissions technologies consist of after-treatment exhaust systems. He says fuel efficiency gains have been made through things like electronic fuel injection, more efficient transmissions integrated with engine performance, and other cutting-edge electronic systems that adjust fuel usage according to many engine factors on a second-by-second basis.
"When I look back on my experiences growing up on the farm seeing the effects of soil erosion on the land, I understand how important no-till practices are in decreasing soil erosion," says Patrick Beaujot, one of the founders of Seed Hawk in Langbank, Saskatchewan. "As my parents, brother and I moved our family farm over to no-till seeding practices, we saw how productivity could be improved while increasing profitability and providing benefits to the environment."
NO-TILLville is a site where the no-till community can follow and chat with global experts and researchers in no-till, who will be blogging about current issues and trends in no-till. Users will be able to share their experiences with the global community, ask questions, and seek answers to their particular challenges in the discussion forums. The site will be set up with agronomic, equipment and regional forums initially covering Australia, Canada, the United States, Europe and Russia.
"As no-till evolved in western Canada, what I saw as an important component in moving the practice forward was the interaction of farmers, researchers, agronomists and industry in community town hall settings. That is the idea behind NO-TILLville, except in an online, easily accessible format where farmers from around the world can learn from experts and each other," says Beaujot.
NO-TILLville will officially launch to the global no-till community at Agritechnica in Hanover, Germany.
The Diamond Disk is a proven tillage concept designed to alleviate some of the issues associated with traditional disks. The diamond configuration of the disk gangs allows the unit to float over rocks without damage, and it also eliminates ridging, skipping and gouging effects. Other features of the Diamond Disks include a floating hitch to prevent side draft and ensure consistent depth control. The units are also equipped with Super-Flex™ C-shanks and ductile cast spools to absorb shocks and maximize the service life of the implement.
The new Diamond Disks are available with two blade options, both of which are mounted on thick, 2-inch shafts. Model DK9630 comes with 26-inch-diameter full concavity blades for aggressive soil mixing, and model DT9530 comes with notched, 25-inch-diameter low concavity blades for superior residue sizing and use in wet conditions. Both models are offered with two finishing options, including three-bar mounted harrows or rolling baskets with patent-pending internal mud scrapers.
All Summers products, including the new Diamond Disks, are available at a variety of authorized dealers throughout Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. To find the nearest dealer, visit www.summersmfg.com.
Using smartphones and tablets, the app enables the fleet management portion of Trimble's Connected Farm Web solution to go mobile. With the app, managers can track the location of vehicles, receive geo-fence and curfew alerts, analyze vehicle status, and view historical positions.
The app can display current status information such as whether the vehicle is idling, moving working or delayed. This information flows into the Connected Farm Web solution, which allows managers to analyze the efficiency and productivity of their fleet.
The free Connected Farm Fleet app is expected to be available in the third quarter of 2013 and is compatible with a variety of smartphones and tablets using an iOS or Android operating system. To download the app, go to the Apple App Store or Google Play Store or visit: www.connectedfarm.com.
In order to view their fleet's information on the Connected Farm Fleet app, customers will need to purchase Trimble's vehicle management service as well as a DCM-300 modem with data cellular service for each vehicle that will be tracked. Customers can use a demo function to explore the features provided before subscribing to the service. Contact a local Trimble dealer at www.trimble.com/locator for more information.
The 6600 Series tractors are powered by 4.9-liter, four-cylinder engines from AGCO Power, ranging from 100 to 125 PTO horsepower. The engines offer an intercooled turbo-charger, electronic engine management, four valves per cylinder and high-pressure common-rail fuel injection, and feature AGCO's e3 clean-air technology with second-generation selective catalytic reduction (SCR) to ensure the 4.9 L engine meets strict Tier 4-interim emission standards.
The 6600 Series offers three transmission options:
- Dyna-4 offers four gears and four ranges for a total of 16 forward and 16 reverse speeds. Operators can shift through all gears and ranges on the roll, electronically with the push or pull of a hand lever. The left-hand three-function power control lever allows the operator to change direction, upshift and downshift, and clutch with just fingertip movement.
- Dyna-6 provides additional working speeds, with 24 forward and 24 reverse speeds, each available without using the clutch pedal. The Dyna-VT continuously variable transmission provides an infinite number of operating speeds, also without the use of a clutch, as Dynamic Tractor Management minimizes RPM and optimizes fuel consumption.
- Dyna-VT has fewer parts than comparable power-shift transmissions to prevent internal parasitic loss and ensure longer component life for reduced downtime and maintenance costs.
Three available hydraulic systems offer farmers a choice when it comes to remote valve controls and flow rates. The standard system has isolated twin gear pumps operated with levers in the side console. A 15 gallon-per-minute (GPM) auxiliary pump is dedicated to the loader and implements, while an 11 GPM pump is dedicated to the three-point hitch. The Twin Flow system offers growers the ability to combine the hydraulic flow of both pumps with the press of a button, pushing 26 GPM to the up-to-four mechanical remote valves.
The highest-performing system delivers up to 29 GPM to implements and remote valves driven by a variable displacement piston pump that delivers oil flow only when needed for quick response, reduced horsepower demand and higher efficiency. This system can be controlled using fingertip remote valve controls in the armrest and right-hand console or an optional electronic joystick.
Addition 6600 Series features include a large cab and the choice between rigid cab mounts, spring-over shock mounts or hydraulic cab suspension; a six-post design with an optional Visio cab roof, which allows operators to view a fully raised bucket without having to lean forward; and engineered convenience and functionality in the control layouts, with a new dot matrix display on the dash and an optional armrest console with integrated transmission, hydraulic and loader controls.
June 24, 2013 - John Deere has updated its entire lineup of 5E Series Utility Tractors (45-100 horsepower) with new Interim Tier 4 engine models and more cab/open operator station and transmission options. This new 5E Series Tractor line now includes the new 85 and 100 horsepower 4-cylinder tractors, which replace the previous 83, 93 and 101 horsepower models, and four 3-cylinder models ranging for 45 to 75 horsepower.
The new 5085E and 5100E feature Interim Tier 4 emissions-compliant PowerTech diesel engines with the 12 Forward / 12 Reverse PowrReverser Transmission and 540/540 Economy PTO in base equipment. They can be ordered with either a comfortable, ergonomic climate-controlled cab or with an open operator station, an option not previously available on the larger 5E models.
Two of the most popular options many customers have asked for on the 55 to 75 horsepower 3-cylinder 5E tractors are a cab and the 12/12 PowrReverser Transmission. The electrohydraulic PowrReverser Transmission with 12 forward and 12 reverse gears makes back and forth chores like loader and blading work easier. With the PowrReverser Transmission, the operator does not have to clutch or even slow down to go from forward to reverse.
The new cab configuration on the 55 to 75 horsepower 5E models creates the ideal chore tractor for customers working in colder climates or dusty conditions. In addition, fuel-saving 540 Economy PTO comes standard on all PowrReverser-equipped models to reduce engine noise, wear, and vibration when using powered implements.
All 5E models can be matched with a wide variety of John Deere and Frontier implements to make them even more useful in getting work done. For more information on the complete line of John Deere 5E Series Tractors, visit your local John Deere dealer or visit JohnDeere.com.
Apr. 17, 2013, Drummondville, QC - Soucy International Inc. has launched a new product in its line of Soucy Track agricultural track systems: the S-TECH 800, designed for high-power tractors.
The S-TECH 800 is a brand new platform with a central geometry developed using castings, preventing the accumulation of debris and offering durability and flexibility. The most significant technological advance is the addition of independent lateral tandems on the support wheels. These tandems enable the wheels to follow ground contours while providing comfort and better load distribution, which increases traction, flotation and the system's lifespan.
The S-TECH 800 is currently available for John Deere 8030 and 8R series tractors. It will also soon be available for Case, New Holland and Fendt tractors.
Apr. 12, 2013, Olds, AB - Olds College is hosting the 60th World Plowing Championship July 19 and 20. This international event is a major part of the College's Centennial celebrations.
The match will feature 60 competitors from up to 30 countries vying for the prestigious title of World Champion for 2013.
While plowing is the cornerstone, there is much more going on during the two days at Olds.
"Plowing is nearly a lost art on many Alberta farms, but Plowing Matches are big events. They're a great way for farmers from around the world to get together and celebrate what they have in common – agriculture," says Olds Plowing Match chairman Mark Kaun, who has attended world matches in New Zealand, and last year in Croatia.
Vintage organizers confirm some 400 pieces of antique farm equipment from as far away as Montana, North Dakota, Manitoba and Saskatchewan will be at the site, along with an antique tractor pull, and a daily parade of old tractors, machinery, trucks and cars. There will be demonstrations of plowing with tractors and steam, and some draft horse plowing as well.
Registrations from international visitors have been pouring in to the Olds Plowing match office.
"We've already got over 400 people signed up to come for the entire 10-day package," says coordinator Kerry Moynihan. "There's a large group from Austria, lots from the U.K. and New Zealand, and Sweden too. These top competitors are like rock stars in their own countries, and they have fans that follow them wherever they compete.
"This year, for the first time ever in the history of the World Plowing Match, we have two female competitors, representing Austria. They're so serious; they're arriving in Canada in mid-June to practice."
Canada will be represented at the World Plowing Match by Barry Timbers and Brian Fried, both from Ontario.
Competition is keen when the plowing begins, with several international competitors even shipping over their own tractors and plows. There is plowing with both conventional and reversible plows, on stubble and grass. Judges use a scorecard to assess the finished plot, which contestants have had to keep straight and accurate with every pass up and down the plot, using mid-sized tractors.
Another highlight will be the unveiling of the World Peace Cairn, designed by Olds College students and including a stone from every participating nation.
Anyone interested in being part of this historic event as a volunteer can contact the Olds College Centennial office.
To get more details, head to the website www.worldplowing2013.com.
April 11, 2013 – Versatile has unveiled a new line of front-wheel assist tractors that feature one of the largest cabs in the industry and a considerable increase in wheelbase and size.
The styling of the new tractor is a departure from the existing Versatile front-wheel assist. A sloped hood offers visibility and features cues from the new Versatile design first introduced on the line of four-wheel drives. An increased grille area allows for better airflow with reduced maintenance and cleaning requirements. Combined with a longer wheelbase, this new design allows for tight turns, even with 30-inch row spacing.
First introduced on the four-wheel drive, the new cab offers operator space and comfort. The door swings wide for easy entry and egress. The adjustable armrest features fingertip controls for ergonomic comfort and a seven-inch high-resolution display for electro-hydraulics and the tractor performance monitor. Multi-power sources are available including 110-volt AC and five volt USB ports.
The new Versatile tractor is available in 260, 290 and 310 horsepower, which is provided by a Cummins QSL 9.0L featuring interim Tier 4 technology. The QSL features the Cummins Variable Geometry Turbo (VGT) for sharp response in the field and offers a torque rise of more than 40 per cent. A reversing fan system is available that works as needed, providing quiet operation and fuel savings. The fan reverses approximately every 20 minutes to blow out the grille, reducing maintenance.
The transmission is a 16F x 9R full powershift transmission with push-button controls. Designed to work with the power bulge and torque curves of the Cummins engine, this transmission offers durability and smooth shifts in the field.
Fuel capacity has been increased to 170 US gal.
Photo: Innovative Farmer of the Year 2012 winner Mark Brock (left) and Trevor Latta, Business Representative with BASF Canada.
Mar. 1, 2013 - Mark Brock didn't start out wanting to be a farmer. He grew up on a farm, but originally thought he would pursue computer programming at the University of Guelph. When that didn't work out, he instead studied agricultural business, which naturally lead into agronomy.
Then, in 1997, he went back to the family farm and never strayed far again.
"I came back to my roots and realized how much I enjoyed crop production," said Brock. "There was an opportunity there for me to not only grow plants and do real crop stuff, but also incorporate some of the technology I always loved working with and use it on the farm."
On Feb. 25, 2013, his decision to move back to the farm proved worthwhile, as BASF Canada and the Innovative Farmers Association of Ontario presented Brock with the 2012 Innovative Farmer of the Year award for his constant promotion of innovation and leadership.
Brock's fascinating with technology led to a few frustrated moments on the farm over the years. But, he never strayed from his belief that technology could help him (and other farmers) find a more efficient and effective way to grow crops.
"I started thinking about applications that we could use that technology for and saw the value in it," he said, which led into investing early and experimenting with new farm technologies. These have included yield monitors, auto-swathing control systems, individual row shut-offs and more. The goal was always to reliably, effectively and efficiently collect as much data on his farm as possible.
Brock, in addition to the use of technology on his farm, is well known for his tireless efforts to find better methods for soil management and nutrient retention. One way in which this is done is through the use of cover crops, which can be used to keep the bacteria and nutrient cycle in the soil going for as long as possible.
"Whether farmers realize it or not, soil is their number one resource," said Brock. "It is such a critical part of what we do that sometimes I think we take it for granted."
Brock is devoted to developing new and sustainable techniques for use in the future of Canadian farming with his wife Sandi and two kids, Jack and Jessica.
"To be chosen to be Innovative Farmer of the Year it was truly an honour," said Brock. "Looking at people who have won the award before, to be put in a category with them, is truly humbling."
Jan. 28, 2013 - Modern farming is a dangerous business. In 2011, it was ranked the second most dangerous industry, behind construction, mining and quarrying, according to the National Safety Council. One often overlooked strategy of improving farm safety is visual workplace communication—in other words, using labels and signs to show where hazards exist and how to deal with them.
Labels and signs are types of visual workplace communication. In general industry facilities, visual communication is used virtually everywhere. Safety labels and signs reduce the chances of a workplace injury by reminding workers of the hazards around them.
Most farms, though, have not implemented strong visual communication, despite having an arguably greater need for safety than industrial facilities. One reason for this is that many farms view the installation of signs and labels as a relatively unimportant goal and not worth the cost and effort. Another reason is that many smaller farms aren't required to meet OSHA standards, which is where a lot of the push for hazard communication comes from for larger organizations. And a third reason may be a lack of dedication to improving safety in general.
There are bright spots in farm safety among a few organic farms.
"We follow all OSHA regulations at JR Organics," said Joan Marrero from JR Organics.
"Most of our signage revolves around food safety and first aid situations. With so many visitors to the farm, we need to keep the areas where we process and clean our vegetables uncontaminated. These areas are 'Farmer only' areas. We also prominently display signs where we store our first aid kits," said Bryan Allen of Zenger Farms.
"We have signs along the border fences to alert road crews that we are an organic farm and no spraying is allowed on our property," added Leland Gibson of Gibson Farms.
Most workplace accidents happen due to workers not being aware of a hazard or underestimating the danger of a hazard. This is especially a concern with young farm workers, who are often insufficiently trained and insufficiently experienced to recognize the many workplace hazards around them. It is also a concern with ESL workers (English as second language), who may not understand the training they receive if it's not in their main language.
Farm machinery and vehicles are the source of most injuries on U.S. farms, accounting for approximately 60-70 per cent of farm fatalities. A good visual communication program should start with putting labels on the most obvious hazardous areas. Examples of common places for warning labels are PTO shafts, machine guards, augur entry points, moving blades and electrical components.
"Our tractors are the most dangerous vehicles on our farm. They are pretty stable but can roll over. Their high horsepower and low gearing can break implements without the driver even feeling it. The roto-tiller attachment for the tractor could kill a person quickly. It has a few safety labels on it from the manufacturer," said Wyatt Barnes from Red Wagon Organic Farm.
A lot of farm equipment is purchased second-hand, especially on smaller farms. These pieces of equipment may lack basic components, including labels. For used farm equipment, because it may have some strange operational quirks or malfunctioning components, it is especially important to make sure its hazards are easy to understand.
Besides directly marking the hazardous areas, labels can also be used to communicate important notes and instructions to your workers. Example: place a label on a PTO-driven grain augur that has a short set of instructions on how to safely attach and detach the tool. Or, place a note by a tractor's ignition to remind the operator to turn off the PTO drive or lower a grain augur before moving the vehicle.
"The chain saw is the most dangerous piece of equipment. A person with no experience and knowledge can cause serious injury or death to themselves or others. High up on the list are bush hogs, sickle blades, hay balers hay rakes. Safety guards and warning are all over these machines for a reason," said Gibson.
Some farm safety issues aren't as easy as others to label, although a few cautionary signs might help alert workers to a concentrated methane zone resulting from manure. Excessive methane inhalation is not just unpleasant -- it can be a health hazard.
Fortunately, university agricultural extension programs offers suggestions about using covers to minimize odor and gas emissions from manure storage, the impact of wind speeds, prevailing wind direction and topography (hills, valleys, trees) on odor dispersion.
These are just a few examples of label uses that could improve a farm safety program. There are no real limits to visual workplace communication. Every farm is different, with unique procedures and unique workforces. To optimize a farm safety program, it's necessary for farm managers to brainstorm the safety issues that are most important at that specific location.
Dec. 4, 2012, Stettler, AB - Generally, a farm manager tries to equip their operation to be able to successfully complete all farming operations in a timely manner. At the same time, the farm manager has to ensure that machinery investment is not excessive to the point that it is a financial drain on the farm business. Machinery management is often a balancing act between timeliness of operations and excess capacity. The balance point is a moving target, fluctuating with grain prices and weather conditions.
"Machinery is often the second greatest investment, next to land on most crop based farm operations," says Ted Nibourg, business management specialist with Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development. "This reality underscores the importance of good machinery management. The basis for machinery management is keeping proper records. A good set of records will let you know what the market value of your equipment is and allow you to compare this to your long-term gross revenue per acre.
"Analysing Statistics Canada data for Alberta comparing machinery investment for the years between 1998 and 2011 inclusive, I found that Alberta farmers typically had between 11 per cent and 18 per cent of their total farm capital invested in machinery and it trended downward. During the period of the analysis, machinery investment as percentage of total farm capital declined. Even though the ratio declined, the overall investment increased. In 1998 Alberta farmers had $8.25 billion invested in machinery. This increased steadily to just under $11 billion in 2011. Machinery investment per acre increased in almost a linear fashion from $159/acre in 1998 to $216/acre in 2011. It is important to note that these values are market values and do not reflect depreciation or recapture."
Net operating income as a percentage of machinery investment varied between a high of 22.45 per cent in 2002 to a low of 8.62 per cent in 2003. Net operating income is calculated before machinery depreciation.
An important benchmark for managers to consider is the machinery investment (market value) per acre divided by the long-term average gross revenue per acre. Based on the analysis, this ratio has averaged 1.69 over the long term. This means that the average farmer in Alberta has, on average over the long term, $1.69 invested in machinery for every $1 they receive in gross revenue annually. This ratio climbed from 1.72 in 1998 to a high of 2.29 in 2003. Since 2003, it has declined steadily to a value of 1.06 in 2011.
"One has to keep in mind that good crop returns in recent years coupled with a slackening of investment in machinery compared to total farm investment has resulted in this declining ratio," says Nibourg. "Another reason could be farm consolidation. Producers are spreading their machinery investment over more acres. During the period in question, the average farm size increased by almost one-third."
Using a management depreciation (as opposed to Capital Cost Allowance) rate of 10 per cent, one can see from the long-term average ratio that machinery fixed costs amount to about 17 per cent of gross revenue per acre. If the ratio happens to hit the high mark at 2.29 as it did in 2003 then the fixed cost for machinery amounts to 22.9 per cent of gross revenue per acre. This is the figure that contribution margin has to cover for machinery investment over the long-term. Economists advise farm managers to keep their machinery investment ratio below 2.
"Alberta farmers have done a good job of achieving this bench mark," says Nibourg. "Records for the last five years show that the ratio is well below the long-term average. Now may be a good time for individual farm managers to take a look at the machinery component of their operations, and possibly purchase additional equipment to improve efficiencies, replace existing machinery or upgrade to newer technologies. Keep in mind, however, that the assessment has to be done on an individual farm basis. Don't rely entirely on provincial averages. Also, the machinery investment ratio is a just a guideline. There may be other extenuating circumstances that warrant increasing machinery investment such as weather factors or crop specific requirements."
Nov. 26, 2012, Saskatoon, SK - The Western Canadian Crop Production Show is an important event for cereal, pulse and oilseed producers in Western Canada. The show provides crop producers the opportunity to meet with exhibitors and get information on crop production, farm business management and crop marketing. This year's exhibitors come from a wide variety of areas, including technology, products and services for crop producers.
The 2013 show will be held from January 7 to 10 at Saskatoon's Prairieland Park.
The 2013 show will feature a return of the Spraying Innovations – Crop Protection Technology Clinic. This clinic includes in-depth sessions on sprayer calibration and nozzle selection, as well as manufacturer specific application and precision steering information and advice.
The Crop Production Show provides an opportunity for the Ministry of Agriculture to interact with producers and launch new publications and guides for the upcoming cropping season. Watch for the new Crop Planning Guides and Guide to Crop Protection. The Ministry booth, located in Hall B, also provides the latest forecasts for crop insects, as well as survey information on crop diseases and moisture conditions.
New this year is the 2012 Saskatchewan Farm Machinery Custom and Rental Rate Guide Calculator. This is a spreadsheet that producers can use to fine-tune their calculations on custom and rental machinery rates. Be sure to stop by the Ministry booth to look at the capabilities of this calculator.
The Western Canadian Crop Production Show and Crop Production Week have a common website that includes detailed information, including meeting agendas - www.cropweek.com.
November 7, 2012, PA - New Holland Agriculture has been honored with six prestigious AE50 Awards by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE). The AE50 awards are presented for the fifty most innovative product ideas to enter the market in 2012. They honor new product ideas that are ranked highest in innovation, significant engineering advancement, and impact on the market served.
The New Holland award winners include the 840CD rigid draper head for New Holland combines, the Advanced Operator-Control System for New Holland H8000 Series Speedrower self-propelled windrowers, New Holland BigBaler Series, the New Holland IntelliFill System for FR Series forage harvesters, New Holland ABS SuperSteer anti-lock braking system (available on New Holland T7 Series tractors), and the New Holland T9 Series tractor homologated option, approved for transport on roads in Europe.
“Through the years, New Holland has earned a well-deserved reputation for innovation,” says Abe Hughes, New Holland’s Vice President of North America. “These awards affirm our on-going commitment to developing advances in technology and cutting edge solutions to meet the needs of today’s agricultural producers.”
Grain producers can maximize the high capacity of their combine in cereals, grains, rice and other specialty crops with the New Holland 840CD rigid draper head, designed specifically for New Holland combines. It is available in cutting widths ranging from 25-45 ft. and features the patented SynchroKnife drive (an innovation that won an AE50 Award in 2011). This unique center knife-drive system, which revolutionizes the way a combine head cutterbar is driven, works on the same basis as the two opposing knife drives used in larger heads, but eliminates the vibrations they can cause by continually keeping the opposing knifes perfectly synchronized. The 840CD also features a patented, fully integrated transport system, and an integrated hydraulic system that allows for individual adjustments in draper belts and knife speeds, to optimize cutting and feeding performance.
The Advanced Operator-Control System for H8000 Series Speedrower self-propelled windrowers is designed with more intuitive access to information and adjustment for exceptional operator convenience and functional control. It includes a multifunction handle (MFH), software that provides additional operator feedback, and an Intelliview touch‐screen monitor. The MFH provides fingertip control of all header adjustments, including draper header requirements, and includes a return‐to‐cut control that allows a double click of a button to raise the header at the headland and a single click to return to the previous cut‐height setting. Software advancements provide feedback on fuel consumption, including a horsepower‐hours/gallon calculation that allows the operator to consider engine speed and ground and header speed adjustments to maximize fuel and operational efficiency.
New Holland’s next generation BigBaler Series sets a new benchmark in baling performance. With up to a 20% increase in capacity and up to 5% denser bales, the BigBalers significantly improve productivity and profitability. They offer commercial hay operations, straw contractors and owner-operators unsurpassed baling performance. The all-new MaxiSweep pickup was completely redesigned featuring a new full-width feed assist roller with paired overshot-undershot augers at both ends to pull in material to ensure that every last stem of profitable crop is safely baled. The MaxiSweep has distinctive S‐shaped side shields that work with crop guides to improve crop flow and windrow separation. SmartFill feed indicators use sensors in the pre‐compression chamber to sense incoming crop and guide the operator via the IntelliView display, ensuring square‐edge bales with balanced side‐to‐side density. The BigBaler styling ensures smooth airflow over the machine for minimal debris buildup, and the one‐piece front flywheel cover opens wide for easy access for service and maintenance.
The New Holland IntelliFill system, an industry‐exclusive, boosts forage harvesting productivity by allowing the operator to concentrate on achieving optimal crop flow and field progress instead of focusing on filling the trailer. This automatic trailer‐filling system offered as an option for New Holland FR Series self‐propelled forage harvesters, uses a 3D camera that allows the operator to fill a trailer accurately and with minimal losses, no matter the size or type of trailer. Deflector position and spout orientation are automatically controlled, based on the information collected by the 3D camera, to consistently fill trailers to the level specified. The system functions equally well in bright sunlight and in the dark on long harvesting nights. As infrared light is reflected from the trailer, collected by the lens, and passed onto a matrix, the IntelliFill System measures the trailer edges and filling degrees. The operator is notified when the trailer is full.
New Holland ABS SuperSteer (available on New Holland T7 Series tractors) is the first tractor to offer the safety and control of an anti‐lock braking system with the productivity-enhancing, super tight-turning SuperSteer front axle. The system delivers the same on‐road safety features as ABS fitted to a passenger car: improved stability, especially when braking under load, and safer, more controlled steering while braking. The system monitors wheel rotation and braking force to eliminate wheel lockup, even on wet or icy roads. It provides straight‐line braking if wheels on one side are on a different surface than the other side. ABS SuperSteer allows steering around an obstacle when braking hard or sharply. The tight-turning SuperSteer™ front axle option leads the field in reducing the time it takes to turn on the headland and delivers row crop agility, beating any tractor in the T7’s category. The system can also use the rear independent brake control to reduce the tractor’s turning circle by as much as 50 percent over the standard T7, for faster headland turns in field operations.
The New Holland T9 Series (homologated option) is the world’s first articulated four‐wheel‐drive class tractor to attain the convenience of “full type homologation” approval by the European Union for on‐road use on public roads in any European country. The New Holland T9 is now available with a special option package designed specifically to allow the tractor to meet the EU road laws for vehicles. The package modifies the tractor steering and braking systems, vehicle width and height, exhaust and lighting systems, and places additional equipment on the tractor to fully meet the laws. Other tractors of this size must have extra equipment mounted by customers and dealers and undergo a country‐by-country approval process to be used on European roads.
“The Magnum Series tractor has set the industry standard as the most powerful and productive row-crop tractor,” says Dan Klein, Case IH Marketing Manager for Magnum tractors. “These tractors introduced the red paint that has become the signature of the Case IH brand. Their cab-forward design and fully integrated mechanical front-wheel drive (MFD) were examples of International Harvester’s reputation of innovative leadership. It let customers know that this new company was off to the right start.”
Twenty-five years later, Magnum tractors are used in some of the most demanding agricultural applications worldwide. They have built a legacy for exceptional performance, reliability and durability that has been built on customers’ needs.
“Customer input has been the key ingredient to the successful design of Magnum tractors,” says Klein. “Producers told us they want a tractor with more power to handle demanding tasks at higher speeds, with better fuel efficiency – while maintaining operator comfort.”
Case IH engineers have delivered on customer requests, continuously improving and upgrading the Magnum tractor to keep pace with ever-growing productivity needs. Today’s Magnum tractor line-up offers power, an improved operator environment and outstanding fuel efficiency. Simple, robust designs drive machine reliability.
More Power, Fuel Efficiency
Magnum tractors are known for their ground-breaking, pulling power and torque with the highest horsepower in their class. Customer requests for more power in tough pulling conditions have been answered with Power Boost capabilities, providing up to an extra 35 engine horsepower for roading or mobile power take off (PTO) and hydraulic demands. Currently, there are nine Magnum models with PTO horsepower ranging from 150 to 290 to handle today’s larger row crop implements.
Magnum tractors are able to meet emissions requirements while increasing total fluid efficiency and reducing operating costs. All Magnum tractors meet Tier 4A emissions standards, using Case IH Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) technology for maximum performance with the lowest possible operating costs. SCR-only after treatment frees the engine to produce raw power from fresh fuel.
Magnum 235 through 340 models rely on the proven 8.7-liter engine, while Magnum 180 through 225 continue with the proven 6.7-liter power plant. These Case IH Tier 4 engines have fewer components and service requirements to maximize uptime and give you more hours in the field each day.
Klein notes that Magnum tractors were the first MFD tractors with factory fit front duals for improved tractive efficiency and reduced ground compaction. “Magnum tractors have ground-level service and only require oil changes every 600 hours,” he says. The intent of design like these help get producers out to the field working early and staying later to get more done in short windows.”
Magnum tractors are equipped with Diesel Saver Automatic Productivity Management (APM) that automatically selects the most efficient gear ratio and engine speed combination. When the Diesel Saver APM is activated, the operator simply selects the desired ground speed for optimized performance. “This represents double-digit fuel efficiency improvements over previous generations and also frees up the operator to focus on other things rather than driving the tractor,” says Klein.
Legendary Cab Comfort
Over 25 years ago, Case IH Magnum tractors set the benchmark for cab comfort, controls and visibility – being the first manufacturer to remove the exhaust from the center of the hood. Today’s cab and operating environment continue to lead the industry ensuring our operators can be as efficient as possible.
Magnum tractors offer a cab-forward design having the largest, quietest cab in this class. The cab space has 360-degree visibility and comfort that represent the hallmarks of the Magnum operator environment.
Operating controls have also been designed with extensive input from producers to create the MultiControl Armrest console. It puts key tractor functions at the operator’s fingertips and the touch screen AFS Pro 700 color display is integrated into the MultiControl Armrest, moving with the tractor seat.
“The controls you use most often are at your fingertips,” says Klein. “They feature universal, easy-to-understand symbols.”
A suspended cab option also is available with four-way compensation – front -and -back and up -and -down – for an even ride on rough terrain. These are just a few examples of how engineers have continued to improve the legendary operator comfort of Magnum tractors.
Silver Tractors For A Silver Celebration
To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Magnum tractor, Case IH will be producing a limited number of silver Magnum 340 Powershift tractors. These commemorative tractors will be on display at farm shows this fall.
“Celebrating this milestone allows us to recognize the Magnum tractor reputation of innovation, reliability and productivity,” says Klein. “The Magnum has maintained its market position as the leading high-horsepower row-crop tractor, and we expect this to continue with its ability to deliver superior engine power through smart, efficient design.”
Aug. 22, 2012, Duluth, GA - Challenger, a global brand of AGCO, introduces the Challenger MT700D Series. Available in two models, the tractors are powered by AGCO POWER 8.4L diesel engines, which are built to exacting standards for smoother operation and longer life. Challenger is the original track tractor, and with the MT700D Series, the tractor created for the most demanding ag environments just got tougher.
“AGCO POWER engines are not just an ordinary power plant for a tractor. The manufacturing process for these diesel engines relies on industry-exclusive assembly process which allows us to work to exacting standards,” says Carlton Self, product marketing specialist for high-horsepower tractors. “The process includes precision balancing of the cam shaft, connecting rods and bearings to the nearest gram, which reduces vibration, optimizes engine performance and extends service life.”
With the new, more powerful engine and Challenger’s industry-exclusive Mobil-trac™ system, the MT700D Series tractors put even more power to the ground. A new, more comfortable cab and refined controls make operating a Challenger easier than ever.
AGCO POWER Diesel Engines for Top Performance, Reliability
The AGCO POWER 8.4L diesel in the MT765D is rated at 285 PTO/350 engine HP, while the MT755D engine is rated at 260 PTO/327 engine HP. Both AGCO POWER 8.4L diesel engines provide low operating input costs, low noise levels, long life, and uncompromised power and torque.
The engine features a single-piece cast iron block with wet cylinder liners. This enables the engine to handle high-horsepower loads without overheating, and extends its service life. Four valves per cylinder, improved fuel regulation and combustion from a new pump and injectors, along with increased common rail pressure and SISU electronic controls, help maximize engine efficiency.
The power plant achieves Tier 4i emissions standards with industry-leading AGCO e3 clean-air technology. This approach maximizes power output while minimizing exhaust treatment costs by varying the diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) rate based on real-time emission measurements.
Challenger Mobil-trac for More Power to the Ground
The Challenger-exclusive Mobil-trac five-axle undercarriage system with oscillating mid-wheels minimizes compaction while maximizing traction and pulling power to work efficiently in the most demanding environments.
Standard polyurethane mid-wheels provide longer life in abrasive environments and where long transport distances are required. Gauge settings, ranging from 72 to 160 inches, plus a wide selection of track widths, allow Challenger track tractors to fit the needs of a wide range of farming operations.
Improved Comfort, Enhanced Controls
With 110 cubic feet of space, the new cab provides unparalleled visibility and comfort, and enhances the smooth, industry-leading Mobil-trac ride. Other features include a 59 GPM hydraulic pump option and 37 GPM flow per hydraulic remote to provide the hydraulic capacity needed for large planters and tillage equipment.
All Challenger track tractors, including the new MT700D Series, are built by the experienced manufacturing team in Jackson, Minn. In addition, these tractors are supported by a dealer network that provides unparalleled support and parts availability to ensure maximum uptime.
The Challenger MT700D Series track tractors will be on display at the Farm Progress Show in Boone, Iowa, and at Husker Harvest Days in Grand Island, Neb. For more information about these new track tractors, see your local Challenger dealer or visit www.Challenger-ag.com.
AGCO, Your Agriculture Company, is a global leader focused on the design, manufacture and distribution of agricultural machinery. AGCO supports more productive farming through a full line of tractors, combines, hay tools, sprayers, forage equipment, tillage implements, grain storage and protein production systems, as well as related replacement parts. AGCO products are sold through four core machinery brands, Challenger, Fendt, Massey Ferguson and Valtra, and are distributed globally through 3,100 independent dealers and distributors in more than 140 countries worldwide. Retail financing is available through AGCO Finance for qualified purchasers. Founded in 1990, AGCO is headquartered in Duluth, Ga., USA. In 2011, AGCO had net sales of $8.8 billion. http://www.AGCOcorp.com
Jul. 25, 2012, Milford, IN - A group of more than 600 Milford-based employees and many retired employees gathered on July 17th at CTB’s Conference Center in Milford, Indiana, to celebrate the Company’s 60th anniversary. CTB (www.ctbinc.com) was founded as Chore-Time in 1952 and is a leading global designer, manufacturer and marketer of systems and solutions for producing grain, poultry, pigs and eggs. Additional celebratory events are planned at CTB’s other locations in the U.S. and around the world later this summer.
Greeting attendees, Victor A. Mancinelli, CTB president and chief executive officer, described the anniversary as an opportunity to “bring many of our people together and express gratitude to all for the hard work put forth these many years.” He remarked that, “the Company was very fortunate to have had a core group of founders and early employees who were passionate, dedicated and visionary.”
Mancinelli also noted that “the value system which began with our founders … was handed down to us over the years and to this day defines us and makes us who we are.” Those core values start with “the cornerstone of integrity” and include a “dedication to new ideas, newer products, being different by design, and giving our customers more, so that we can make them even more successful.”
CTB has been a wholly owned subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. since 2002, and Berkshire Hathaway chairman Warren Buffett also offered employees a congratulatory video greeting. “You’ve got to have a good feeling about what you do at CTB,” Buffett said. “You’re helping feed the world, and nothing is more important than that.” Buffett concluded, “I couldn’t feel better about being your partner.”
The program included recollections by a number of individuals hired by CTB during the Company’s first three decades including retirees Dick Mundy and Pat Farm, current employees Chuck Bird and Roger Hollinger, and early employee and inventor Eldon Hostetler. A video was also shown of company founder Howard Brembeck (1910-2010) and original co-owner Forrest Ramser (1925-2010) speaking in 2002 about their philosophy of doing business. A meal was served to all attendees after the program.
Based in Milford, CTB today sells its products in over 110 countries under some 14 brand names. These include the original two brands, Chore-Time and Brock, as well as Agro Logic, Fancom, Ironwood, Laake, Mannebeck, PigTek, Porcon, ProTerra, Roxell, Shenandoah, Shore and Uniqfill.
On May 4, 2012, the Company announced an agreement to acquire Meyn Holding B.V., the parent company of Meyn Food Processing Technology B.V. The acquisition, soon to be finalized, will add a 15th brand – Meyn – to CTB’s product portfolio. It will also bring CTB’s worldwide annual sales to over a billion dollars.
Throughout its history, CTB has dedicated itself to product leadership, and its product development ideas have generated numerous patents and awards for various innovations for agriculture. The Company has focused its product development on equipment that helps farmers feed the world through more efficient production of animal protein (poultry meat, pork and eggs) and systems that facilitate long-term storage of grain. CTB also produces and offers products for various equestrian and industrial applications.
CTB continues to focus on its strategy for growth, which includes emerging as the best cost manufacturer in the industries it serves, emphasizing its product-driven focus, expanding its global physical presence, fortifying the business through acquisition and enhancing its financial strength in order to support ongoing product development and to better serve its customers both today and in the future.
Jul. 11, 2012 - Jim Harkness Equipment Ltd. has introduced a new Steiner 440 tractor, which features more power and increased versatility.
- The New 440 4-wheel Drive Tractor is bolder, better and more powerful... and yet it retains the compact, highly maneuverable and easily versatile attributes of its predecessor, the 430. Most attachments for Steiner 430 and 235 Front Wheel Drive tractors are interchangeable with the new 440.
- The 440 has more engine horsepower, more hydraulic power available for work, more rear attachment, capability with an optional category 1 hitch (vs category 0), axles that are twice as strong, and yet is more comfortable with controls that are more accessible and easier to use.
- The 440 has a much higher power to weight ratio than its nearest competitor and offers more 'Get it Done' Power in a smaller, more versatile machine.
For more information, please contact Harkness Equipment at 519-338-3946.
Thunder Bay SCIA Spring Farm ConferenceTue Mar 20, 2018
Irrigation agronomy updateWed Mar 21, 2018
Cover your assets: Marketing and business management workshopThu Mar 22, 2018 @ 8:30AM - 04:30PM
Kenora District SCIA Spring Farm Conference & Seed FairSat Mar 24, 2018 @ 8:00AM - 05:00PM
Royal Manitoba Winter Fair Mon Mar 26, 2018
Farm & Food Care Ontario Annual ConferenceWed Apr 11, 2018