Agriculture input prices have risen by about 100%, but using technology provides farmers with an opportunity to save on costs, such as fuel and downtime issues, says agricultural equipment manufacturer and distributor AGCO Africa field service manager Zack Janse van Rensburg.
AGCO is the agricultural machinery manufacturer and supplier of various brands including the Massey Ferguson range of tractors. Along with manufacturing of equipment, technology has been developed that aims not only to reduce input costs of farmers but also optimise crop potential using mechanisation.
One key technology system – the MF Connect –is used in agricultural environments for medium to large farm operations and, with over 35 000 pieces of equipment already connected globally through this system, many MF pieces of equipment in South Africa have started to join this number. The MF Connect system records and streams live telemetry about that piece of equipment with 134 data points.
“Viewing of these data points can be done by installing the application (app) that can be used on any smart device for your MF-connected-ready piece of equipment,” says Janse van Rensburg.
If there are any issues with the machine, the customer will get an alert from the app. It also alerts the dealer if the customer’s machine needs a service, even before it is required, to ensure proper maintenance planning, he adds.
“When an error is detected, the dealer’s technician is also made aware of it and we also have a link directly to our support team, with the workshop manuals and operator's manuals – all the information needed to fix that machine.”
For many farmers, there is a short planting window, some as short as 15 days, and Janse van Rensburg explains that a farmer cannot afford to have any equipment down during that period, as this may affect the planting window for that season’s crops.
He also highlights that machines used in agriculture are a business investment, so they need to be up and running for as long as possible to ensure a good return on investment.