OPN recently caught up with Greg Milstead, Director of Sales-Southwest Region at AGCO.
OPN Connect: AGCO is a global leader in the design, manufacture and distribution of agricultural solutions to make farms more productive and more profitable. How is the world of agriculture changing because of your innovative technologies?
Everyone in the Ag space knows we are experiencing a tipping point that is revolutionary. It all boils down to less farmers having to do more work on the same amount of land, so the equipment side becomes very important.
Everyone is wrapped up with the quest to feed 2 billion more people by 2050. To do this with the existing arable land, we must have bigger machines, faster machines, and more accurate technology.
Technology is completely revolutionizing agriculture. And whether you are preparing the soil, planting, spraying, or harvesting, the amount of data being produced in the Ag space on any given farm is just jaw dropping. Today we have the ability to collect that data and provide prescriptive solutions to growers which allows them to maximize a given acre.
Our machines monitor data on the go so farmers can understand what is happening in the field today and then plan for what they’re going to do next year in that exact same spot. The outcome is that we now have the ability to generate more yield per acre in the same field that’s been there for generations.
OPN Connect: What future do you envision? What does the world for organic growers look like 10 years from now?
I think the future of farming is on a path to become more automated. Labor issues seem to be one of the major drivers here. Also, I think increasing utilization of alternative fuels along with electric tractors are not too far off.
The other item that is very unique to Agriculture is that we are controlled by the one thing we will never control – that being the weather. Therefore, the windows of when you can get things done are always narrow. This is where things like autonomous vehicles can enable growers to adapt and act quickly within these windows.
As for the Organic space, I think the demand side will only continue to increase. Fact is, the consumer continues to be more and more educated and vocal about the food chain. As that consumer becomes more informed about agriculture they will gravitate to a more healthy diet. Furthermore, when you look at the complexion of how the world population is changing, we are definitely seeing an increase in the middle class. With that change, the demand for a different diet runs parallel. There is the ability to pay for higher quality food. Therefore, a higher consumption of protein along with organic food is something we all must prepare for.
OPN Connect: How does your machinery and equipment address regional farming differences and needs?
Every manufacturer looks at regional differences from one side of the country to another and equipment must be different. Soil types, growing seasons, weather, infrastructure, they are all different when you span the US. However, the regional areas in California are like planets of their own. You don’t see those variations in a place like Iowa.
With that said, I think all the manufactures look to address all the niches production areas like grapes, vegetables, even tobacco. We provide high crop tractors used in most vegetable crops, pipe tractors to pull irrigation equipment, track machines to deep till the soil, planters to put seed in the ground, sprayers to apply protection, and harvesting equipment as well. Yet when you are dealing with organic farming, often times the fields are smaller and the equipment becomes more specialized.
OPN Connect: At AGCO sustainability is a core business imperative. How do you help your customers achieve economic, social and environmental sustainability with your products?
A quality product and a strong dealer organization are the two most important things we can provide to partner with any grower. Our equipment is built for a purpose and has to last. This provides economic sustainability that keeps farms running and productive. When a grower is always trying to beat the clock or outsmart the weather, uptime is vital.
As for the environmental side, I think the masses need to understand that all growers are stewards of the land and I suspect this is the backbone of the organic space as well. Regardless, the grower genuinely has it in their core to take care of every acre of their land. If they don’t, the land doesn’t return the favor, so to speak.
OPN Connect: You will be presenting the grower of the year award at the Organic Grower Summit. Why do you think the Organic Grower summit is valuable?
Simply put, education. I think the manufactures need to understand better the requirements and infrastructure or what it takes to transition to an organic farm. We need to understand how our equipment then becomes impacted when this transition takes place. We want to understand what’s out there that can impact organic operations and how we can help and be aligned.
Participating at a summit like this is definitely an avenue for us to gather information around how to best meet the needs of each region and crop. But it will boil down to something all of us need to do, and that is listening to our customer.
OPN Connect: Anything else we should know about AGCO?
AGCO is a different Company when compared to our peers and has an amazing background relative to how we have evolved. We operate under a more entrepreneurial spirit, even as one of the largest global ag manufactures. We choose to function around a multi branded strategy. People recognize our brands, like Massey Ferguson, Challenger, Fendt, GSI, but most folks don’t know they are under the AGCO umbrella. We are a pure-play Ag company and we don’t do anything else; it’s in our DNA.