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May 2012 Archive for Machinery Journal

RSS By: Aimee Cope, Farm Journal

The Machinery Journal blog is your place to find the latest machinery updates, industry news, and interesting tid bits.

How Monsanto Got into the Machinery Business

May 31, 2012

Last week there was big news as Monsanto announced its intent to acquire Precision Planting. Yes, that Precision Planting—the company that sells seed meters, monitoring and precision ag equipment.

This news left some asking why would Monsanto buy an aftermarket planter equipment company. While others saw the natural link between the two companies, particularly since Monsanto’s announcement of its Integrated Farming System.
I was able to speak to Precision Planting founder and owner Gregg Sauder as well as catch up on the anouncement by Monsanto, and here's what we reported last week:
This acquisition will help complete Monsanto’s Integrated Farming System (IFS) platform, which aims to marry the genetic knowledge of seeds with the technologies of strategic field placement for maximum yield.
"Precision Planting offers aftermarket technology that works with some of the original equipment manufacturing planting equipment, John Deere equipment, AGCO equipment, Kinze equipment and helps to refine and improve it," says Robb Fraley, chief technology officer of Monsanto.  "It also creates the potential and I think it leads to natural collaborations with these larger equipment manufacturers."
Precision Planting was founded in 1993 by Gregg Sauder and his wife, Cindy. Today, the company’s software and hardware products include seed metering, yield mapping, planter monitoring and fertilizer attachments.
 "When we stepped into harvest monitors, we showed that as a company, we were beyond just planting, and we wanted to close the information loop in farming," Sauder says. "By joining the IFS platform, I believe this is where our company needs to go, and it’s another whole level. It’s not just positioning seeds for success, but it is changing the way that farmers think about corn production. This is the step we were always missing before the opportunity with Monsanto."
With its first product expected to launch in 2014 in the Midwest, IFS was introduced as a concept in November 2011. It is a proposed platform that will combine the knowledge of seed genetics with known soils and field data and then equipment to strategically plant corn for maximum yields.
"We were able to test last year that our predictive algorithms, our scripts, which we will call FieldScripts, really work. Last year, we tested with a large number of growers. We saw on average about a 10 bu. per acre yield increase with our FieldScript versus the other farmers' own practice," Fraley explains.
Sauder says that IFS is what changed his mind about selling the company he founded almost 20 years ago.
"If you would have asked me two years ago if I would ever sell Precision Planting, I would have said no," he explains. "But I knew there would be potholes in our path to growth, and I can say that IFS has smoothed out our future. This acquisition by Monsanto will give us broader opportunities and security. We will go further faster."
Precision Planting will remain headquartered in Tremont, Ill., and all 120 employees will be offered the opportunity to stay on with the company. Sauder, who will continue to lead the company, had the opportunity to discuss the acquisition with employees late last night and have smaller breakout conversations this morning. A team of two dozen Precision Planting employees has been on the phone reaching out to the company’s distribution network to answer questions since the announcement. Precision Planting first partnered with seed salesman to build its distribution network, and today some of that network includes businesses that already represent Monsanto brands.
 Monsanto has agreed to pay $210 million for Precision Planting, and an additional performance based payment of $40 million is also part of the acquisition.

Manufacturers Partner in Joplin Recovery

May 22, 2012

One year ago an EF5 multiple vortex tornado ripped through southwest Missouri and the city of Joplin. The city’s emergency manager reported that up to 20% of the city was destroyed, and more than 160 people were killed.

The recovery effort has been ongoing and it’s interesting that two equipment manufacturers have been part of a notable partnership to restore and rebuild Joplin.
Over the past year, Vermeer Corporation and Immanuel Lutheran Church of Joplin have been involved with extensive stump grinding and debris removal in some of the hardest hit areas. Recently, Kubota Tractor Corporation joined Vermeer in a tree planting effort to fill the voids with new trees with both equipment and volunteers.
Kubota Vermeer Joplin
Although the original plan was for volunteers to plant 50 trees, they ended up planting more than 90 oak, maple and locust trees in neighborhoods hit hardest by the storm. The community beautification effort represents a step toward restoring the landscape to its original beauty and revitalizing the hope of its residents.
The use of equipment for the tree planting effort was provided by Vermeer Corporation, Pella, IA and local the Kubota dealer, Springdale Tractor, Springdale, AR. The trees were supplied by Forrest Lawn Nursery, Jonesburg, MO.  And overall, the event funding was provided by the Vermeer Charitable Foundation.
You can still donate as part of the recovery to the Red Cross and Heart of Missouri United Way.

Case IH and Corn-y Museum Exhibit

May 13, 2012

Through the rest of the year, visitors to the Indiana State Museum can harvest corn in the Case IH combine simulator. One of the highlights of “Amazing Maze” visitors can also take advantage of a variety of interactive features, including a seven-foot high display of corn-based products, including M&Ms candies, packing peanuts, cereal and more.

The Case IH simulator allows visitors of all ages to experience what it’s like from the seat of a combine when a farmer is harvesting a field of corn. Visitors can steer the wheel of the simulated combine, or direct the combine’s functions with the MultiControl Armrest, complete with an AFS Pro 600 display unit, which is used to show yield and moisture readings and GPS positioning.
Other displays explain how the corn plant’s genome has evolved over thousands of years and how scientists develop new corn traits.  Divided into six sections, “Amazing Maize” follows a 10,000-year genetic journey showing the evolution of the corn plant, starting with the ancient Mesoamericans domesticating a teosinte plant and selecting it for specific traits. One interactive feature shows visitors how domestication took place over the years, with a video from geneticist Dr. John Doebley, who first positively identified teosinte as the ancestor of today’s corn plant.
2012 4 11 Case IH Sponsored Amazing Maize Exhibit Debuts At Indiana State  Museum Low Res
Another section of the exhibit highlights hand-powered farm tools, stone and wooden corn grinders and examples of dozens of corn species. The journey continues to just prior to World War II, when scientists began crossbreeding higher-yielding corn varieties and when mechanized tools, such as Case IH tractors and combines, were introduced to American farms.
Museum visitors can try their hand at using a wooden corn pounder to grind corn into flour or meal, just as many Native American tribes did. A lighted map illuminates corn’s migration path from the Americas to the rest of the world. The exhibit features a replica of a high-tech greenhouse where scientists can test corn plants’ response to various growing conditions, diseases and pests.
The “Amazing Maize” exhibit will run through January 2013. The Indiana State Museum is located in White River State Park in the heart of downtown Indianapolis. For more information, call 317.232.1637 or visit

Tractor-Driven Combines In India

May 11, 2012

In a recent story in Crops and Soils magazine I learned about tractor-driven combines and the mechanization of harvest in India. Read more from the article below:

The tractor-mounted or tractor-driven combines are popular in India where the fields range from ½ to 10 acres. A small crane can lift the tractor off the harvester and be used in other seasonal operations.
The biggest impact of these machines is that harvesting in India has traditionally required land owners to find, hire, and retain 40 or more workers during the month-long harvest, and this has gotten much harder to do in recent years as people migrate from India’s countryside to its cities, says M.B. Patil, a collaborator of Khosla’s at the University of Agricultural Sciences (UAS), Raichur, in the southern Indian state of Karnataka.
Not only does a combine harvester help farmers contend with the growing labor shortage, explains the UAS plant pathologist, but it can also save them money. Local pigeon pea-, sunflower-, and wheat-farmers, for example, will rent the services of a tractor-driven combine for 2,000 rupees ($40 U.S. dollars) per acre—about half of what they’d pay to employ laborers to bring in the harvest.
Image courtesy of the University of Agricultural Sciences, Raichur
UAS, Raichur, owns two tractor-driven combines at present, and Patil estimates that about 600 more are now in operation across Karnataka. While the machines are still expensive for many Indian farmers to purchase—they typically cost the equivalent of $46,000 to $48,000 in U.S. dollars—the state government will subsidize 30 to 40% of the price. And those who can afford to buy machinery typically share it by offering services to other farmers.
The article also gives some insights onto the overall combine market in India…
The Standard brand of harvester is a popular one in many Indian states, including Punjab, Haryana, Andhra Pradesh, and Karnataka, according to the company that makes it, Standard Combine of India. Another maker of compact combines, the Germany-based company CLAAS, originally developed its product CROP TIGER—outfitted with tracks—for harvesting rice from wet, paddy fields. It later released a wheeled version for harvesting grain.
Other manufacturers of tractor-driven combines include the Indian companies, PREET AGRO Industries and Panesar Agriculture Industries, as well as the Japanese company, Kubota, and some of them also sell self-propelled combines for small fields. Local farmers tend to favor John Deere tractors, Patil says. But Mahindra is an Indian company that also makes tractors suitable for top-mounting on combines.

Sukup Builds Village of Hope in Haiti with Grain Bins

May 09, 2012

Modified Sukup grain bins are now home to 11 eleven families in Les Cayes, Haiti. The “Village of Hope” will eventually have 50 of the Safe T Homes.

sukup grainBins haiti

The 18-foot-diameter Safe T Homes will be used as temporary shelters for families, who will learn agricultural and entrepreneurial skills, then move out when they find family-supporting employment and adequate housing elsewhere. Then another family can move in. Prospective residents are being screened by Global Compassion Network, a nonprofit agency that is administering the Village of Hope project.
Sukup SafeTHome
Brett Nelson, who spearheaded the idea of using bins made by Sukup as shelters, and three others from Sukup (Nick Sukup, Luke Erickson and Joe Germain) led a team to build the village that will one day total seven circles of seven homes. Each “pod” will have a gazebo at the center as a gathering place. The trip took place in February and each day about 100 people gathered at the construction site, most of them hoping to land a job building the homes. They also found very capable workers on-site and divided them  into four teams –working on sidewalls, roofing and ballast boxes – and built two houses per day. The last of the 11 homes was put up almost entirely by Haitians.
The Safe T Home was recently recognized by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers as an AE50 Award winner. The awards recognize outstanding agricultural innovations that have potential for broad impact, and a key to the Safe T Homes’ use as transitional housing is the ease with which they can be built. An experienced team of four can put one up in just a few hours using minimal tools. Even a novice crew can have one up and ready in a day.

The homes have a double roof and vented eaves that are much more comfortable than one would imagine. A 36’ Safe T Home is planned to be built as a clinic and another as a church.
Sukup President Charles Sukup and Chief Financial Officer Steve Sukup agreed to donate 14 Safe T Homes, and Nelson began coordinating the design and fabrication of the homes and putting the word out about them.
Along with Global Compassion Network, Sukup Manufacturing is partnering with the Iowa Food & Family Project, which is an initiative launched by the Iowa Soybean Association; and Meals from the Heartland, an Iowa-based nonprofit that has packaged more than 20 million meals for hungry families around the world.
The goal is to deliver 48 Safe T Homes this spring. So far, there are enough donations for 34 Safe T Homes. Twenty-six have been shipped, and an additional were shipped the first part of the May.
Sukup villageofHope

Inside New Holland’s Hay Tool Plant

May 02, 2012

It’s a billion dollar factory: the New Holland hay tools plant in New Holland, Pa. In total, the manufacturing facility is 700,000 sq. ft. on the 341-acre corporate campus. Included on the campus is a 150-acre test farm that grows corn and hay and has beef cattle.

The manufacturing facility was opened in 1955 and today comprises three interconnected buildings. In the past five years, the company has invested $30 million, with a large part of that going to revamping and expanding the paint line. The powder coat paint process takes 3½ hours and includes a seven-stage washing process, applying the powder and baking. The factory applies three colors of powder paint: red, yellow and CNH gray.

The facility uses 346 suppliers and consumes 60 million pounds of sheet metal a year. The factory produces 2,200 parts for CNH products manufactured at this facility and others (including Grand Island, Neb.; Saskatoon, Canada; and Poland), and 65% of the baler content is made here at the factory.
It takes one and a half days to build a round baler from the first weld in subassembly until it rolls out of the factory. This facility can build 21 round balers a day. It can produce eight large manure spreaders or three small manure spreaders a day. More than 200,000 round balers have been made at this factory.
There’s a total of 280 ft. of weld on a single round baler, and 80% of a roll belt round baler is robotically welded.
The factory shuts down for two weeks every summer, and it shuts down for two days for deer hunting season.
This is the only factory where New Holland small square balers are made. In 2008, the factory produced its 700,000th small square baler, which was sold to a Pennsylvania farmer who has bought more than 20 New Holland small square balers.
Even with extensive testing, the factory conducts Customer Quality Audits (CQA). In this process, 2% of all product is tested. The staff sets up the machinery exactly as a dealer would and checks every weld, bolt, decal and paint job. The employees score it, and if the machine does not pass the CQA, every serial number since the previous CQA on that product line is checked. This could include any equipment already on dealer lots.
Hay equipment is exported to numerous countries, and on the day of my factory tour there were small square balers being packaged for shipping to China. The packers can fit eight small square balers in a shipping container.
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