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Currently Viewing: FE E-Watch: January 11, 2011
Industry News: Jan 11 2011

Farm Equipment Industry News

Topcon and DICKEY-john form strategic relationship

NORAC Receives ISOBUS Certification for Spray Height Control Product Line

Valley Irrigation, CropMetrics Join Forces

Lely USA Announces Expansion of U.S. Headquarters

Claas Captures Five AE50 Awards

New Poll of Agri-Marketers Shows Continued Short- and Long-Term Optimism

Titan Machinery Closes Acquisition of Fairbanks International

Cleaner Tractors Get Cool Reception from Farmers

Mahindra Tractor's Sales Rise 31% in December

 

Topcon and DICKEY-john form strategic relationship

LIVERMORE, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Topcon Positioning Systems (TPS) and DICKEY-john® Corporation, which designs, manufactures, markets and supports sensors, monitors, and control systems, have formed a strategic relationship in the agriculture industry.

Topcon, with headquarters in Livermore, California, recently unveiled its System 350 machine control system, which utilizes the new X30 control console and its AGI-3 receiver for autosteering functionality.

DICKEY-john, based in Auburn, Illinois, serves the agriculture, off-road equipment, public works and analytical instrumentation industries worldwide. They will be adding Topcon’s revolutionary X30 machine control display as a next-generation console to their current product line-up. The X30 is a virtual terminal that offers complete compatibility, not only with DICKEY-john sensors, monitors and control systems, but also any ISO 11783 compliant product.

Ray O’Connor, Topcon president and CEO, said, “DICKEY-john is a globally recognized company with an exemplary reputation for its expertise in planting and application control. The company is well known for their reliable sensor technology and dedication to customer service; the X30 will be a strong addition to their industry recognized product line. We are excited to work closely with this first-class company on mutually rewarding programs and projects.”

DICKEY-john’s vice president of marketing, Art Tsubaki, stated, “Topcon’s strength in technology, such as ruggedized virtual terminals, GPS and steering technology, provides another product option for our customers. Our ISO tradition and expertise, in combination with the X30, provide a great platform for OEM and aftermarket opportunities.”

The X30 console has a large (12.1 inch) display with an icon-based user interface, dashboard and interaction keypad for ease of use.

Its prominent features include:

  • Compatibility with DICKEY-john control ECU’s
  • Autosteering using the Topcon AGI-3 receiver
  • ISO virtual terminal compatible
  • Manual guidance via lightbar system
  • Coverage mapping, as-applied maps
  • Import of XML prescription maps
  • 24 languages available

Topcon Precision Agriculture is a business unit of Topcon Positioning Systems, Inc. (TPS). TPS designs and manufactures precise positioning products and solutions for the global surveying, construction, agriculture, civil engineering, mapping and GIS, asset management and mobile control markets. TPS’ parent company, Topcon Corporation (Tokyo Stock Exchange – 7732), was founded in 1932.

DICKEY-john Corporation is a privately-held division of TSI. Since 1966, DICKEY-john, based in Auburn, IL, has designed, manufactured, marketed and supported products used in the agricultural and public works industries. Key products include sensors, monitors and control systems for farming tractors and implements, city/state snow & ice control vehicles and analytical instrumentation for grain moisture and constituent testing for global customers.

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NORAC Receives ISOBUS Certification for Spray Height Control Product Line

Source: NORAC

Jan. 7, 2011 — NORAC is pleased to announce that ISOBUS 11783 certification has been received for their UC5™ Spray Height Control product line.

NORAC is the first independent height control system to receive ISOBUS certification.  “ISOBUS certification will allow NORAC’s Spray Height Control system to be offered as part of a complete electronics package,” said Bill Strelioff, CEO.  “The request from customers who want everything in one panel has certainly driven this initiative.”

This international standard allows agricultural electronic devises to communicate using a standardized messaging system.

This means that NORAC’s UC5™ Spray Height Control system can connect to and operate through ISOBUS virtual terminals including John Deere GS2™, Case AFS  Pro 600, Kverneland Group’s Tellus, and AGCO A5.

The certification was awarded after rigorous testing by DLG, a German-based certification body.  NORAC is one of a few North American companies to receive ISOBUS 11783 status.

ISOBUS compatibility means that the international standards stipulated for cross-manufacturer data transfer and cross-system documentation are satisfied.

“ISOBUS certification is an important step to allow NORAC to offer height control through a broader range of panels,” said Danea Armstrong, VP of Global Sales.

“The industry is moving towards a common language, which results in “plug and play” capabilities for the customer. The demand in North America is growing, but the immediate need has been driven by NORAC’s European customer base.  Our product can be offered as part of a total package which includes a variety of other functions in the same panel.”

NORAC Systems International Inc. is a Canadian-based agricultural electronics manufacturer with offices in the United States and Europe. For more information, please visit www.norac.ca.

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Calmer Corn Heads

Valley Irrigation, CropMetrics Join Forces

Both company's products win ASABE AE50 awards

Valley, Nebraska, January 4 — Valley Irrigation, a technology leader in precision irrigation, announced a formal agreement with CropMetrics, a precision ag data services company that specializes in variable rate irrigation technology. This agreement creates an alignment of Valley Irrigation dealers with the latest in agronomic technology to provide growers true precision irrigation with center pivots.

“Precision irrigation starts with building a precise water management plan,” says Craig Malsam, Valmont Irrigation’s vice president of engineering.  “Applying the optimum level of water and nutrients through a center pivot is more important than ever. We’re excited to be the first in our industry to supply a whole new dimension of precision irrigation through our agreement with CropMetrics and their optimization service available through our Valley dealers.”

“As our single most valuable natural resource, applying excess water is an unnecessary cost. Apply too little water, and yield potential is now lost as well. Our solution is to optimally apply water specific to soil type,” says Nick Emanuel, CropMetrics president. “We’re excited to work with Valley dealers and offer Valley customers the ability to take precision agriculture to the next level with our unique precision agronomic solutions and data services.”

CropMetrics specializes in full-service data collection, processing, and advanced yield analysis. The company supplies all proprietary web-based software and large-scale data processing so agronomists, crop consultants, ag retailers and precision ag specialists can focus on providing fast, reliable and profitable precision ag programs for variable rate irrigation, nitrogen and seeding.

Valley Irrigation VRI Zone Control provides individual sprinkler or span control and is fully compatible with all new and existing center pivots equipped with the Valley Irrigation Pro2 control panel. The Pro2 panel uses power line communication to remotely manage as many as 30 VRI Zone Control units. This allows each individual control unit to be easily positioned at any point along the pivot span. Because the new VRI Zone Control utilizes the on-board computing power of the Valley Irrigation Pro2 panel in combination with power line communication, the added VRI equipment cost is reasonable.

“We believe that combining Valley Irrigation control technology with CropMetrics precision services is the future of mechanized irrigation,” says Malsam. “Producers with pivot irrigation have always been able to control how much water is applied to a field. But this technology allows producers to control how much water, fertilizer and other crop management products are variably applied based on precise agronomic data.”

In addition, Valley Irrigation with VRI Zone Control, and CropMetrics with automated agronomic VRI prescription services, have been given American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE) AE50 awards as a top 50 innovative new product produced in 2010.

The AE50 awards will be announced during a presentation at the Agricultural Equipment Technology Conference (AETC) in Atlanta, Ga. on January 6 as part of Ag Connect Expo.  Representatives from CropMetrics and Valley Irrigation will be available to demonstrate the new VRI technology in the Valley Irrigation booth at Ag Connect, January 7-10.

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Lely USA Announces Expansion of U.S. Headquarters

Pella, Iowa, January 3 – Lely, a leader in robotic milking systems (shown), has announced the company will soon expand its production facilities to include Pella, Iowa, the current headquarters for Lely USA.  The expansion will significantly increase Lely’s production capacity in the North American market.

“Lely USA has been headquartered in Pella, Iowa for the past 7 years,” says Peter Langebeeke, president of Lely USA.  “It’s with great pleasure we’ll be able to pay back this incredibly supportive community with our significant facility expansion and new job creation.”

Plans include a 35 to 40,000 sq. ft. production and office facility dedicated to the production and support of Lely’s line of robotic milking equipment, including the Astronaut robotic milking system as well as Lely’s complete line of feed and animal care products.  The new space will be Lely’s first dairy production facility outside of their headquarters and production facilities in Maassluis and Rotterdam, Holland.  The new facility will increase the product capacity in the North American market, allowing the company to expand its current services and technologies to the North American dairy industry.

These new facilities and staff will also enhance Lely’s ability to support our Lely Center dealers located in North America.  “The Lely Center dealers are the backbone of our marketing strategy in North America,” says Chad Huyser, director – sales & operations for Lely USA.  “We value our relationships with these Lely Centers and are excited to bring added levels of service and support to our collective customers with our new facility and expanded team of dedicated employees in North America.”

In addition to new space, the expansion also will create 20-25 new full-time positions within the first year of the facility’s operation.  “We’re constantly looking to expand our products and services in the United States and Canada, and this is a major step in helping us move towards that goal,” says Langebeeke.  “The North American market holds tremendous potential and we are already seeing great interest in our dairy products from family farms up to large scale dairy herds.  This expansion is a sign of Lely’s commitment to helping our dairy producers realize improvements in their financial and social well-being. We are excited to begin the transition and look forward to further establishing Iowa as a central location for Lely.”

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KMW Loaders

Claas Captures Five AE50 Awards

Omaha, Nebraska, January 3 — Claas of America Inc. has won recognition from the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE) for ag industry innovation. For the seventh consecutive year, Claas received awards showcasing its capacity to deliver product and systems technology that advance agricultural engineering.

The AE50 awards program annually honors 50 companies or products for innovative engineering in the areas of agriculture, food and biological systems. Products are judged on specific criteria; they must provide the most profound technology in their industry, improve user safety and benefit producers by saving them time, money and labor.

2011 awards were presented for the following Claas products:

MaxFlo 1200 draper head – The MaxFlo 1200 is a 40-foot draper head equipped Lexion Draper Headwith compression augers to positively feed cut material to the combine without the added complexity of a center-feed belt (draper) and adapter. With no center adapter, the header can be mounted closer to the combine improving visibility and lessening travel distance of material between the cutterbar and feederhouse intake. The compression augers hold material to the surface of the side conveyor belts to ensure continuous positive feeding into the stationary, contoured center floor section. The contour of the stationary, center floor section directs material flow into the header’s center feed drum, as supplied by the side belts (drapers) and compression augers, and on into the combine feederhouse for processing.

The Terra Trac stationary center floor also acts as a catch basin to capture and collect potentially harmful foreign objects traveling within the material flow and prevent ingestion by the combine. A six-sensor digital auto-contour terrain sensing system maintains a safe and consistent cutting height in all ground conditions. Belt (draper) speed is operator controlled to optimize material flow pending conditions. Additionally, the side belts (drapers) can be reversed from the cab to assist in clean-out and/or to dislodge obstructive material or objects.

Terra Trac – Terra Trac is a suspended-track undercarriage with independently suspended rollers. A hydropneumatic suspension system of hydraulic cylinders with integrated accumulators connect to their respective roller system (rear driver, front idler, and oscillating mid-rollers) enabling them to respond independently to uneven or changing terrain in order to maximize machine ride stability and operator comfort while minimizing ground pressure and disturbance to the soil structure. An automatic (hydraulic) belt-tensioning system maintains continuous belt tension for consistent performance and durability. The stability of the new Terra Trac undercarriage supports higher road speeds, up to 40 kph (25 mph) (750 TT only), minimizing the time required for road transport and improving the ratio between engine hours and fieldwork hours for an improved return-on-investment.

The Terra Trac system replaces the generation II Mobil-Trac System (MTS), which utilizes a mechanical linkage interface between the track undercarriage and the axle and contains shock absorbers to dampen the effects of changing terrain.

Claas Telematics – The Claas Telematics system is a management tool that Claas Telematicscollects all important operational data of a self-propelled harvester and transfers it to a web page to give the owner unlimited access using just an Internet connection. Telematics helps analyze the efficiency of the harvester, displays all settings, and offers a wide range of management tools like live remote GPS tracking, GPS tracing, direct machine comparison, live settings, yield monitoring and mapping, and checking the status of machine maintenance. For custom operations, Telematics offers an easy way to log and collect data for invoicing and cross compliance purposes. Telematics also includes the capability of remote service and diagnostics so that the service partner can remotely connect to the harvester and diagnose problems to reduce service technician travel time and machine downtime.

Disco 3900 TC center pivot mower conditioner – This 12 ft. 6 in. trailed unit incorporates the new Active Float hydraulic flotation system. The Active Float provides the suspension for the mowing cutterbars to float and follow the ground contours in the field. This Active Float can be adjusted to increase or decrease the pressure to make the cutterbar lighter or heavier during operation. The heavyduty cutterbar is protected with Safety Link, which protects the cutterbar from internal damage when the cutterbar comes in contact with external objects. The Quick Knife system allows for quick removal of the knives. The full-width tine conditioner maximizes dry down, facilitating the hay in a day practice or a narrow windrow for other markets.

Orbis 635 row independent corn head – The Claas Orbis 635 is a specially designed header to harvest row distances of both 0.8-m (30 in.) and 1-m (38 in.). The header can gather seven 1-m (38-in.) or eight 0.8-m (30-in.) rows of corn, milo, or forage sorghum while allowing the forage header to run its tires in-between rows and furrows. The most innovative feature is a unique center gathering drum, allowing harvest of one 1-m (38-in.) row exactly in the center of the machine as required by the grower. The Orbis 635 allows for a smoother crop flow and consistent stubble height as most headers are designed to fit only 0.8-m (30-in.) row applications. The Orbis 635 complements the range of Orbis headers by using many common parts.

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New Poll of Agri-Marketers Shows Continued Short- and Long-Term Optimism

Source: Agri Marketing magazine and American Business Media (ABM) Agri-Council

December 30 — A poll conducted among corporate agribusiness executives last week showed the majority think the current ag economy is positive and are expecting an even better environment over the next 12 months.

On a scale of 0 (lowest) to 100 (highest), the overall Agri-Marketers' Confidence Index (ACI) scored a 91, which compares to 82 when the poll was conducted last August.

The poll was conducted by Agri Marketing magazine and the ABM's Agri-Council. The poll was sent to 321 executives of companies that develop and sell products to North American crop and livestock producers. A total of 109 (34%) company representatives participated in the poll, including a very wide sampling of large and small enterprises, as well as both crop and livestock-oriented companies.

"The ACI is modeled closely along the lines of the well-known consumer confidence studies regularly reported by The Conference Board," reports Steve Custer, Chair of the ABM Agri-Council's Research Committee and Executive Vice President of Farm Journal Media.

"It is an indicator designed to measure the confidence or the degree of optimism among agribusiness marketers on the state of the agribusiness economy. It looks at both their outlook for their own business now and in the future, as well as their perception of the outlook for their customers - the nation's farmers and ranchers."

ACI is calculated by looking at the percentage of positive versus negative responses.

To read how ACI is calculated and its complete results, click here.

A few of the highlights include:

• 77% of the marketers rated the current business conditions for their company as positive. That is nearly 13 times the number of those rating it as negative.

• 60% believe the business conditions 12 months from now will be better.

• 29% expect to increase their marketing communications budget one year from now with another 55% expecting it will remain the same.

"The current ag economy is strong, both in the crop and livestock sectors, with the exception of the dairy industry due to high feed costs and low milk prices," says Lynn Henderson, Publisher of Agri Marketing. "In fact, USDA just issued a report forecasting a record net farm income at $82 billion, up 31% over last year and 26% higher than the ten year average."

Henderson notes other ag related indexes have reported optimistic results, as well. "Creighton University's Rural Mainstreet Index, a survey conducted among bankers which was released last week, moved above growth neutral 50.0-its highest level since January 2009.

"Farmers are feeling optimistic, too," Henderson reports. "The recent Agriculture Confidence Index conducted by DTN/The Progressive Farmer was 151, compared to 100 last April."

One tangible measure of farmers' optimism are farmland values which in Iowa rose 16% over the prior year according to the annual survey conducted by Iowa State University Extension.

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Titan Machinery Closes Acquisition of Fairbanks International

FARGO, N.D., January 3, 2011 (BUSINESS WIRE) — Titan Machinery Inc. (NASDAQ:TITN) announced today that it has closed on the previously announced acquisition of certain assets of Fairbanks International Inc. and its affiliates. The acquisition includes six dealerships that offer one or more of the Case IH, New Holland Agriculture and New Holland Construction brands. These dealerships are located in Grand Island, Kearney, Lexington, Holdrege, Hastings, and North Platte, Nebraska.

Fairbanks International was founded in 1910 and has been selling equipment for over a century. The six dealerships in the Fairbanks International network are well-situated along the I-80 corridor in Nebraska, which is some of the most productive agriculture land in the world. Fairbanks acquisition marks Titan Machinery's first agriculture dealerships in Nebraska and complements its construction equipment dealerships in Omaha and Lincoln, Nebraska. In its most recently reported fiscal year ended December 31, 2009, Fairbanks International and its acquired affiliates generated revenues of approximately $85 million.

About Titan Machinery Inc.

Titan Machinery Inc., founded in 1980 and headquartered in West Fargo, North Dakota, is a multi-unit business with mature locations and newly acquired locations. The Company owns and operates a network of full-service agricultural and construction equipment stores in the United States. Including the Fairbanks International, Inc. acquisition, the Titan Machinery network consists of 77 dealerships in North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska and Wyoming, including two outlet stores, representing one or more of the CNH Brands (NYSE:CNH), including Case IH, New Holland Agriculture, Case Construction, New Holland Construction, Kobelco and CNH Capital. Additional information about Titan Machinery Inc. can be found at www.titanmachinery.com.

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Cleaner Tractors Get Cool Reception from Farmers

By DINESH RAMDE, The Associated Press — January 3, 2011

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Farm equipment manufacturers are rolling out cleaner tractors to meet stricter new federal air regulations, but many in the industry say the challenge will be getting farmers to put the high-priced models into fields during hard economic times.

The rules that went into effect Saturday apply to tractors, construction vehicles and other so-called nonroad equipment. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says the vehicles are major sources of particulate-matter emissions — the stuff that makes smoke black and air difficult to breathe.

Federal air standards have been tightening since the mid-1990s. The 2011 regulations are the latest step, requiring that diesel engines built starting this year produce even fewer of the nitrous oxides that can cause acid rain.

Tractor makers, including Deere & Co. and Case IH, have unveiled a number of new models that meet the so-called Tier 4 standards. But with the greener technology adding about 10 percent to the price, many farmers say they're in no hurry to upgrade tractors that might last another 25 years or more. Others are upgrading but their old tractors are getting traded in and resold rather than retired.

Given that, the effects of the new regulations may not be felt for decades.

Paul Fortkamp, who raises poultry in Fort Recovery, Ohio, has upgraded, buying a Tier 4 tractor from Case IH in Racine, Wis., for use with his corn and soybean crops. The tractor treats the exhaust with a nitrogen-based compound that converts it to mostly water vapor and atmospheric nitrogen.

Fortkamp bought the $120,000 tractor to replace a 30-year-old vehicle that he plans to sell. He said his buying decision was based on cost, not environmental concerns.

"I needed to upgrade," Fortkamp said, "but the price of used equipment has gotten so high that I figured I might as well buy new. It wasn't a huge difference in cost."

The new tractors can cost $100,000 to $300,000. Manufacturers say they have added some new features to make the price more palatable.

A Tier 4 tractor made by Deere & Co., based in Moline, Ill., alerts the owner if a thief tries to drive it out of a specified area. To meet the new federal standards, the tractor has a system that captures and cools exhaust gas and then redirects it to the engine, where it can burn at a lower temperature and produce fewer emissions.

Case IH defended the price on its new tractor in part by noting its emissions system makes the engine 10 percent more fuel-efficient.

While environmental groups are usually vocal about supporting green technologies, the manufacturers seem to be the only ones pushing the new tractors.

The Sierra Club said the new machines and the rules that went into effect Saturday are just an incremental step following major air pollution legislation passed in the 1990s. And the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation said its members had more pressing issues to focus on.

Some farmers said they had no interest in the new tractors, even if they did promise to be more environmentally friendly.

Phillip Batho owns a dairy farm in Plum City in western Wisconsin, where he uses seven tractors to spread manure on fields and harvest crops. The new technology remains untested, he said, so he was skeptical about the government's and manufacturers' rosy claims.

That's why, when he needed a new tractor last month, he bought a used model for about $60,000.

"The newer ones, there's a lot more stuff to go wrong. They're a lot more complicated," he said. "I like having a clean environment as much as anyone, but the tractors we've been using don't seem to be ruining the environment."

He paused, then added, "I'm not looking forward to having a Tier 4."

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Mahindra Tractor's Sales Rise 31% in December

For the period April to December 2010, total cumulative sales (domestic + exports) stood at 154,265 units, as compared to 127,670 units for the corresponding period last year, an increase of 21%.

Mahindra & Mahindra’s Farm Equipment Sector (FES), maintained its leadership position in the tractor industry in December 2010. Total tractor sales (domestic + exports) in December 2010 stood at 16,334 units vs.  12,439 units during December 2009, an increase of 31%.

For the period April to December 2010, total cumulative sales (domestic + exports) stood at 154,265 units, as compared to 127670 units for the corresponding period last year, an increase of 21%.

Exports during the month of December 2010 were 1,199 unitscompared with 922 units in December 2009, an increase of 30%. Domestic sales in December 2010 stood at 15,135 units vs. 11,517 units during December 2009, an increase of 31%.

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