Experiencing the latest in global high-tech machinery
Thanks to harvest wrapping up on time and a little luck in winning a contest, father and son Paul and Blaine Kummer attended Agritechnica 2011 in Hanover, Germany.
"If we would have had a harvest like the past three years, we’d still be in the field instead of in Germany," Paul says.
The Kummers entered a contest hosted by the DLG (German Agricultural Society), which organizes Agritechnica, and Farm Journal to win an all-expenses-paid trip to attend the world’s largest indoor farm machinery event. Held every other year, Agritechnica aims to bring together the international agricultural machinery industry to display new technologies and equipment.
The Kummers raise corn, soybeans and sugar beets along with Paul’s wife, Vanessa, in Colfax, N.D. Paul and Vanessa originally entered the contest together, but due to Vanessa’s travel obligations with the United Soybean Board, of which she is chairperson, Blaine took his mother’s place.
After 20 hours of travel to arrive in Germany, the pair checked into their hotel and headed straight to the show, where they were taken aback by its size and professionalism.
"My first thoughts were, ‘Wow, this show is huge!’ All of the exhibits were very nice and very professional," Blaine says. "The team from the DLG was very welcoming and helped us get a feel for the show. DLG sets up an international visitors center so foreign visitors have a place to meet, relax and get information about Agritechnica."
Paul and Blaine had 24 exhibit halls to take in. As they went through the exhibition, they saw everything from the latest technology in automating machines to heavy-duty tillage equipment. The event’s hospitality continued from booth to booth.
"Most of the exhibitors had food and beverages to serve, and some went so far as to set up a small bar and restaurant with waitresses. At about 4 p.m. on the first day, we happened
to be in an area that served beer and sausage while a speaker welcomed people to Agritechnica," Blaine says.
They met farmers from Germany, other European countries and Canada. While visiting the John Deere booth, they met someone who works for the company in the same region as a foreign exchange student who spent time working on their farm.
As sugar beet farmers, they took special interest in stopping by ROPA’s exhibit to see the self-propelled cleaning and loading machine, The Maus.
In addition to spending a couple days taking in Agritechnica, the Kummers spent one day traveling to Einbeck, a small town 60 miles south of Hanover.
"There we toured KWS, the largest sugar beet seed company in Europe," Blaine says. "In
addition to sugar beets, KWS is involved in breeding corn and cereals. In the U.S., it also owns Betaseed, a sugar beet seed company, along with the six regional seed companies known as AgReliant."
Reflecting on the trip, Paul and Blaine say they got a wider perspective on the scope of the global machinery industry. They also saw some ideas that could be incorporated on their farm.
"One product that I found very interesting was made by PTG, a German company. It was an onboard air pressure control system for tractors and implements," Blaine says. "For road travel, you can increase tire pressure to carry weight in transport, and then lower the pressure for better traction and less compaction in the field. I think this would work well on our central-fill planters that use truck tires to handle the weight concentrated on the center of the toolbar. I have heard of these systems being used on trucks, but this was the first tractor and implement setup I have heard of."
Perhaps the biggest take-home for everyone who attends Agritechnica is that it’s a small world, but there’s still lots to learn.