Farms.com Home   News

Old tractors go high-tech as equipment manufacturers compete

Illinois farmer Leon Adams’ corn planter sits at the center of a strategy by AGCO Corp. to expand in the world of agricultural machinery dominated by Deere & Co.

The Deere 1770NT model was built in 2010 and painted in the company’s iconic green and yellow, but the high-tech attachments that actually insert seeds into the ground, 24 rows at a time, are built by AGCO’s Precision Planting brand.

AGCO is focusing on retrofitting used tractors made by it, Deere or other manufacturers. It’s offering souped-up gear to make tractors smarter, betting farmers are eager to upgrade to the latest technology while also saving on costs.

“What we’re targeting is essentially the 93% of the customers that don’t buy new every year,” AGCO Chief Executive Officer Eric Hansotia said in an interview with Bloomberg last month at the Precision Planting headquarters in Tremont, Illinois.

Retrofitting existing tractors “allows a much lower price point for them to get that new-feature capability without having to change over the entire machine,” Hansotia said.

Deere recently partnered with Elon Musk’s SpaceX for that purpose. More advanced growers are retrofitting with components such as Deere’s artificial-

intelligence powered sprayer that can tell the difference between a crop and a weed.

Click here to see more...

Trending Video

The Investment Opportunities of Industrial Hemp

Video: The Investment Opportunities of Industrial Hemp

The fledgling U.S. hemp industry is decades behind countries like Canada, France and China, but according to impact investor and this week’s podcast guest, Pierre Berard, it could flourish into a $2.2 billion industry by 2030 and create thousands of jobs.

To reach its potential, what the hemp industry needs most right now, Berard said, is capital investment.

Last month, Berard published a report titled “Seeing the U.S. Industrial Hemp Opportunity — A Pioneering Venture for Investors and Corporations Driven by Environmental, Social and Financial Concerns” in which he lays out the case for investment.

It’s as if Berard, with this report, is waving a giant flag, trying to attract the eyes of investors, saying, “Look over here. Look at all this opportunity.”

Berard likens the burgeoning American hemp industry to a developing country.

“There is no capital. People don’t want to finance. This is too risky. And I was like, OK, this sounds like something for me,” he said.

As an impact investor who manages funds specializing in agro-processing companies, Berard now has his sights set on the U.S. hemp industry, which he believes has great economic value as well as social and environmental benefits.

He spent many years developing investment in the agriculture infrastructure of developing countries in Latin America and Africa, and said the hemp industry feels similar.

“It is very nascent and it is a very fragmented sector. You have pioneers and trailblazers inventing or reinventing the field after 80 years of prohibition,” he said. “So I feel very familiar with this context.”

On this week’s hemp podcast, Berard talks about the report and the opportunities available to investors in the feed, fiber and food sectors of the hemp industry.

Building an industry around an agricultural commodity takes time, he said. According to the report, “The soybean industry took about 50 years to become firmly established, from the first USDA imports in 1898 to the U.S. being the top worldwide producer in the 1950s.”

Berard has a plan to accelerate the growth of the hemp industry and sees a four-pillar approach to attract investment.

First, he said, the foundation of the industry is the relationship between farmers and processors at the local level.

Second, he said the industry needs what he calls a “federating body” that will represent it, foster markets and innovations, and reduce risk for its members and investors.

The third pillar is “collaboration with corporations that aim to secure or diversify their supply chains with sustainable products and enhance their ESG credentials. This will be key to funding the industry and creating markets,” he said.

The fourth pillar is investment. Lots of it. Over $1.6 billion over seven years. This money will come from government, corporations, individual investors, and philanthropic donors.

The 75-page report goes into detail about the hemp industry, its environmental and social impact, and the opportunities available to investors.

Read the report here: Seeing the U.S. Industrial Hemp Opportunity

Also on this episode, we check in with hemp and bison farmer Herb Grove from Brush Mountain Bison in Centre County, PA, where he grew 50 acres of hemp grain. We’ll hear about harvest and dry down and crushing the seed for oil and cake.