Thursday, 21 December 2017 14:55

2017 – what a year!

Written by  Mark Daniel
AGCO NZ national sales manager Peter Scott and Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy launch the new Fendt 1000 at Fieldays. AGCO NZ national sales manager Peter Scott and Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy launch the new Fendt 1000 at Fieldays.

What a year it’s been for anyone interested in technology.

For sure, agriculture is at the cutting edge, whatever your chosen field. Manufacturers continue pushing the boundaries, which in turn increases output or reduces inputs, both of which unite to save the user money.

Looking at heavy metal such as tractors, who couldn’t be impressed by Fendt’s 1000 Series goliath with its radical drive line, the Case IH Quadtrac hitting 20 years of service, and CNH Global’s look at the future with autonomous blue and maroon tractors?

Meanwhile, John Deere and Fendt have shown their ‘green’ credentials with the all-electric e100 and SESAM tractors, and New Holland continues to develop its methane powered tractor, which is nearly ready for market.

World records have been broken: Ashburton’s Watson family grew 1679 tonnes/ha of wheat, a self-propelled Agrifac sprayer covered 2532ha in 24 hours, and a Polish-made Samasz mower knocked over 100ha of grass in just eight hours.

Technology in the livestock sector is also right up there: robotic milking systems from De Laval and Lely have won greater acceptance, for labour saving and herd health; local company Smaxtec has developed a bolus that lies in a cow’s stomach to transmit data on water intake, activity and rumen pH to a remote tablet or smartphone.

Students at Harper Adams University in the UK completed the Hands-Free Hectare Project where a crop of barley destined for brewing (students never change) was planted, tended and harvested autonomously with machinery that was readily available and easily modified.

Talking about mobility, a plethora of apps continue to be released and bombard farmers from every direction on their tablets or mobile phones. However, as a visiting American farmer noted, “I can have up to 50 information feeds hitting my smartphone every day, but in 36 harvests the biggest effect on my bottom line has always been created by the weather -- over which I have no control.”

And this year’s fun stuff: women’s pink work-boots at Fieldays (there’s a present for Christmas); the Giant Cow at Morrinsville – a nod to the area’s dairying backbone; and a tribute to the late Laurie Maber, who sowed the seeds for the hugely successful Power Farming Group.

On the motoring front, NZ continues to be offered a plethora of fantastic vehicles including a heap of utes and a choice of at least 63 SUVs.

Standouts are the impressive Skoda Kodiak, which should win Car of The Year; Toyota with market leadership that goes back 30 years; and the truck to trump any ute – the Ram 2500 XL, bigger than Texas and a dozen oversized, cup holders.

The negatives? Not too many on the heavy metal front. However, we need to get to the bottom of fatalities on farms, many of them attributable to quads.

We must change the way we think about helmets, protective clothing and why we need to go somewhere on a quad. Is there an alternative? Do we need to do that or go there? Remember that the history books record the lives and deaths of many martyrs.

Have a safe 2018.


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