About a week or so before Commodity Classic, I got a call from our good friend and rock star soybean grower Kip Cullers who was all excited about the trip he had just taken to South Africa. So, I did an interview with him while I had the chance, which was a good thing because I barely saw him at Classic, where he had promised to give me a USB drive with photos from the trip but never did. I did catch a shot of him on the stage at Case IH where he was telling the audience about his trip.
Anyway, it was a pretty interesting trip for Kip, who was there with another grower for a tour to meet with local farmers, primarily sponsored by DuPont Pioneer, with participation by BASF and John Deere. “We traveled around the country and had meetings where they were expecting 200 and 400 would show up,” Kip said. “We did five meetings and they said that we covered 80% of the total production acres in South Africa, whether it be corn, wheat or beans.”
Kip says one of his biggest surprises was that they have Asian Soybean Rust there and was interested to find that they use the same BASF product to fight it, although instead of Headline it is known by a different name. He said the farmers were very interested in seed treatments, which are currently not used much in South Africa.
The trip was great, but Kip says he wasn’t thrilled with the food – lamb that was fatty and “kinda got a twang” and some kind of white corn grits-like food that was so dry “I had the spoon turned upside down and it wouldn’t fall off.”
A stream of red was easy to spot walking the streets of the 2013 Farm Progress Show. Case IH made quite the impression on attendees during the recent event, where they launched a few new products in their crop production line.
The Marketing Manager for Crop Production Equipment, Rob Zemenchik, talked what’s new at Case IH and when growers can take them home.
“There are three machines we are featuring on the lot in the area of crop production that we are introducing. The Ecolo-Tiger 875 Mulch Ripper, new Precision Disk Drill 500T and the 5 Series Planter.”
An entire team of Case IH representatives were on hand to share information, answer questions and give advice on which equipment would fit different farming needs. Attendees also took advantage of the Case IH apparel shop located at the center of their endless exhibit.
Case IH has joined the supporting team for the Great American Wheat Harvest documentary film as a Silver Sponsor. “This validates the diversity of combine colors represented by the wheat harvesting machinery featured in the film with their sponsorship,” says film producer Conrad Weaver.
Earlier this spring, the filmmaker joined the more than 200 harvesting crews at the CASE IH ProHarvest kickoff in Frederick, Okla., at the Great Plains Technical Center. The kickoff is a combine safety training program for custom harvesting crews.
“Case IH is proud to sponsor the Great American Wheat Harvest because of our long history with many of the custom harvesting crews featured in it,” says Cy Werda, North American Combine Marketing Manager, CASE IH. “Not only are they important customers, their feedback has helped us build the equipment they need to be ready for almost any harvest condition.” Werda says Case IH is committed to collaborating with its customers to develop the most powerful, productive, reliable equipment – designed to meet today’s agricultural challenges.
CASE IH now joins other Great American Wheat Harvest major sponsors including: John Deere, MacDon Industries, U.S. Custom Harvesters Inc., Association of Canadian Custom Harvesters, Oklahoma Wheat Commission, TMCO/National Manufacturing Company and media partner, AgWired.com, an online media service.
Case IH has a long history with the Conservation Technology Information Center, so it just makes sense that they were an overall sponsor and sponsored dinner one evening during the tour in Livingston County, Ill., at Rooster Heaven, a hunting club near the Vermilion River. Chuck caught up with Alan Forbes with Case IH, who serves on the CTIC board and explained why his company has been so involved with the group for the past 30 years.
“Really, they just have a culture and attitude of conservation that really fits what we believe in at Case IH when it comes to preserving the water, the air, natural resources. Culturally, it fits us.”
Alan says the Indian Creek watershed project, which looks to address preventing runoff into the area’s creeks and rivers, represents a best-in-class initiative for conservation.
“Lots of people talk conservation about what we could do, what we should do, but here producers are putting together real-world initiatives that are providing benefits, not only in the watershed, but some of the best practices witnessed here are being exported nationwide and across North America. It’s a real good effort and it’s something that Case IH is happy to be a part of,” he said.
Alan added that Case IH’s push into precision farming equipment falls in line with this whole conservation theme, helping farmers make sure they have the right inputs in the right quantities in the right places. And the CTIC tour expands that into making sure those inputs STAY where they are needed.
It’s possibly one of the best Super Bowl commercials of all time … Dodge Ram Trucks’ spot featuring the voice of Paul Harvey, reading in his characteristic way the moving poem, “So God Made a Farmer,” set to stirring images of the people who make possible our daily bread (and milk and meat and fuel). At the recent National Farm Machinery Show, Case IH’s Dan Danford explained his company’s role in their sister company’s memorable commercial.
“It’s been amazing what kind of spotlight this has put on U.S. agriculture,” Dan said, adding that in just a short time, it helped raise $1 million in donations for FFA. He considers it an absolute gift for Case IH to be part of this successful program to highlight the importance of agriculture in 2013, what the company calls The Year of the Farmer. “They included us because of our long relationship with FFA… 65 years as a supporting partner. And we are taking this torch and running with it!”
Dan said there’ll be more to come, including possibly a photo book. And Case IH wants to be a part of it all. “We are working with them to say, ‘What can we do to keep this going?’ Because the more people ask questions, the more they’re going want to know and be involved.”
Giving the customers what they want is a hallmark of good business, and Case IH practices that with every piece of equipment they roll out.
“Before we lay down the product definition for any future design, we go out and visit with the customers at length,” explained Case IH’s Rob Zemenchik during an interview with Chuck at the National Farm Machinery Show. Rob calls their approach of taking an in-depth survey of their customers’ needs “agronomic design,” rather than assuming what the customers need. “With the investments our growers are making today in seed and fertilizer and land, we want to be sure our equipment is able to meet those needs and deliver on the best opportunities for high yield.”
He pointed to one example of Case IH’s application of this agronomic design principle with his company’s 500T Seed Drill, a product that features an industry-first parallel linkage in the row units. “That was identified by our customers.”
Information is power, but TOO MUCH information is, well, overwhelming. During the recent AG CONNECT Expo, our friends from Case IH sponsored a a morning networking breakfast on how to manage all the information farmers are faced with in precision agriculture.
“One of the things we find is this overabundance of information with data, and how do we control it, package it, bring it back down to a level that is simple to use, easy to store, easy to transfer, and how do we get a collaborative effort [between all parties],” said Trevor Mecham, Case IH AFS Marketing Manager. His company offers a variety of products to help manage that information more effectively on tools already in most people’s hands. “We want to be able to get from point A to point B in an efficient manner where our people are able to utilize it as easily as they use their cell phone today,” and do it seamlessly.
Trevor said the information you put in is only effective if you can get good information out of it, and he admits there can be a lot to manage out there. He believes the key is creating collaborations that produce good information, transfer it effectively while protecting proprietary information and deliver something usable. “This is really defining how we spell logic out of digital chaos. It really is a digi-cation, not an education.”
Case IH equipment provided a few media opportunities at the Farm Progress Show. This combine doing a field demo is just one of them. Nathan Weinkauf, Global Marketing Manager, gave me a run down of what’s new.
Nathan says their new Axial-Flow Combines for 2013 have completely redesigned cabs that are common across all models. He says it’s a true mobile office. It even has its own portable refrigerator. You’ll hear him describe a number of other features that set these combines apart from others. In addition to the new combines Nathan says that in 2013 Steiger Quadtrac will be available in the Steiger Rowtrac machines.
After over five years in development the Indiana State Museum opened its Amazing Maize: The Science, History and Culture of Corn Saturday. The exhibit will run for the next 16 months at the museum located in the heart of Indianapolis. In those 16 months, Indianapolis will play host to two National FFA Conventions AND the Super Bowl. Talk about the potential to reach out to the consumer.
The exhibit highlights the 10,000 year “genetic journey” that highlights the evolution of maize to our modern day corn. Speaking of technological advancements, in one part of the exhibit they highlight the corn husking competitions that were held. I was particularly proud – while the exhibit focused on the 1940’s, I thought about my family tree. My great-grandfather, Simon Oltman, was the Illinois Corn Husking champion in 1934. With a total of just over 23 bushels of corn harvested he was named the “Dark Horse Husker from Woodford County”.
If you’re ever in Indianapolis, take time to visit the Indiana State Museum and check out the Amazing Maize exhibit and take a walk through the history of a product that is a part of our everyday lives.
Jane Ade Stevens is the executive director of the Indiana Corn Marketing Council and talks about why being a part of the Amazing Maize exhibit was important. You can read more about Amazing Maize here.
During InfoExpo at the Ag Media Summit I visited with Case IH to learn what’s new. I spoke with Kristina Hopkins.
Kristina says that they are promoting their Web Press Room to ag media. It’s where you can find news releases as well as video, images and a media kit. So ag journalists make sure you bookmark this website.
I spent quite a bit of time in the Case IH booth during AG CONNECT Expo last week – AgriTalk broadcast live one day and the next AgDay TV taped its show. However, my education didn’t end there. I spent a few minutes learning about Case IH’s dedication to helping farmers gain more efficiency from John Bohnker.
“A lot of farming is based upon efficiency. We’ve got to get more efficient operations. There are fewer farmers farming more acres. So we deal a lot with efficiency. If you look at our combines, we’re getting bigger and bigger combines. Bigger heads, wider operations, so we can do more operations with less manpower and get the process done faster,” said Bohnker.
Case IH is focusing strongly on its CDT technology where they are “doing a better job of finding the sweetspot” with energy efficiency. “We’re doing a better job of getting the energy to the ground, power to the ground where we need it,” said Bohnker.
I asked Bohnker about the growing concerns over sustainability and profitability and he stressed that they have to go together. “Farmers are really the truest green people on the earth. They have to earn a living on the land, and long-term they have to keep the farm economical but they understand the environment is the right place.”
The company is developing some new equipment that pares sustainability and profitability together, in particular, a prototype baler that is being designed to pick up corn cobs and stover for cellulosic ethanol production. By enabling the farmer to harvest this biomass, he can get more revenue off the same amount of land. The equipment is not quite ready for production yet, but it’s close; however, their other equipment is in the pipeline and ready to go for the upcoming planting season.
The exhibitors at AG CONNECT Expo really invested a lot in their presentations and none more than Case IH in my opinion. I watched a couple of their floor shows and thought you might enjoy a look at one of them.
Centered in the exhibit is a whole command console to control lights and sound. It really is well done and attendees loved it. I heard that the whole thing was put together in 90 days. If that’s so, then whoever did it should get some real kudos.