To Ukraine with love

Pouncing on an opportunity to export equipment to the Ukraine, UK
company AGCO Implements partnered up with Purest Taste, Mpumalanga manufacturer and supplier of Stansapro spraying equipment. Peter Hittersay spoke to AGCO’s Cameron McKenzie and Purest Taste’s Stephen Oberholzer.
Issue date 14 September 2007

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Purest Taste, Standerton-based manufacturers and distributors of Stansapro spraying equipment, recently exported four innovative and sophisticated herbicide and insecticide liquid-chemical attachment kits, made to fit Massey Ferguson MF 555 no-till planters, to the Ukraine. “The Ukraine’s economy is being liberalised, and former state and collective farms converted to private commercial farming enterprises of between 2 000ha and 3 000ha,” said Cameron McKenzie, product marketing manager of AGCO Implements. “have been successfully marketing our vast range of agricultural farming machinery there ever since this process started. We’re aware of the enormous agricultural potential of Ukraine, which has some 30% of the world’s best chestnut-brown chernozem soils. Our MF 555 no-till planter range has been particularly well-accepted. When we received a call for herbicide and insecticide liquid-chemical attachment kits to fit them, we started an international search for a reputable supplier.” Cameron is no stranger to South Africa, having spent some six years here on agricultural machinery technical support secondment from Massey Ferguson. He now has product marketing responsibility for in Europe, Africa and the Middle East.

He soon identified Purest Taste as the supplier of choice. Purest agreed to develop and manufacture Stansapro kits to fit two eight-row and two 12-row MF 555 planters, for planting and chemical-treatment of maize and sunflower in 70cm rows. They also agreed to have two of their technicians assemble and fit the kits to MF 555 planters in the Ukraine, and provide on-site training. Stephen Oberholzer, general manager of Purest Taste, was one of them. “Following the shipping of the kits, which were retailed to end-users before they even left our Stansapro have four patents registered on their liquid chemical spraying system. One applies to their two contact wheel drives which engage with the ground wheels of the MF 555 planter, one of which replaces the clutches of the seed and fertiliser bins while the other drives the chemical piston diaphragm pump. Through variation in the length of the stop blocks of the two contact drive wheels, the chemical pump contact wheel drive engages sooner than that of the seed and fertiliser, allowing the headland to be sprayed just prior to the planter being fully lowered to commence planting. Once the chemical application is calibrated at about 7km/h to 8km/h, the correct volume is automatically delivered to the spray nozzles at any speed.

The second patent covers the chemical pump assembly’s sprockets, the third the forward, backwards and vertical-adjustable “Strong arm” row-unit spray nozzle brackets, and the fourth the unique 600ℓ, T-shaped, liquid-chemical tank mounted on the planter frame, which doesn’t need to be removed when cleaning dry granular fertiliser bins. The entire Stansapro herbicide and insecticide liquid chemical attachment kit is extremely well-designed and well-manufactured. It’s well-nigh impossible to identify it as an add-on kit – it looks like original MF 555 equipment, as manufactured by AGCO. Purest Taste have also supplied a Stansapro-manufactured and -fitted pre-emergence insecticide spraying kit for a seed potato planter manufactured by Kole Staalwerke of Villiers, which was exported to India. Another project was the fitting of a post-emergence insecticide spraying kit to a ‘High Boy’ high clearance tractor based on a Ford 6610 tractor modified by Havco Manufacturing of Standerton for tall crops such as maize and sunflowers. This entailed the fitting of two 300ℓ saddle and one 600ℓ three-point linkage mounted tanks and a 12m self-levelling boom with drop arms.

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The latter tank was designed and mounted to enable it to be easily removed and fitted to a standard tractor for other spraying applications. Stansapro liquid chemical systems shores, our Stansapro technician, Lucas Erwee, and I flew to Kiev on 2 April,” he recalls. “We motored 300km over three hours southwest to the city of Vinnytsia, on the banks of the Southern Buh River in the central Ukraine, which is the administrative centre of the Vinnytsia Oblast province. We immediately set about our tasks, returning to South Africa on 7 April.” During their stay, Oberholzer observed that the Ukrainian countryside was beautiful and generally flat, but obsolete and antiquated machinery and inefficient operators led to high input costs. However, agriculturally, Ukraine is advancing very rapidly, especially with the availability of modern western farm machinery and the knowledge that comes with it. The Stansapro team plans another visit for a follow-up field assessment of the system’s performance.

Ukraine’s climate is dry and warm to hot during the summer and cold and wet in winter. The weather is suitable for both winter and spring crops. Average annual precipitation is some 600mm, including roughly 350mm during the growing season – April through October. It’s typically higher in western and central Ukraine and lower in the south and east. Ukraine’s land area totals 60 million hectares, of which roughly 42 million are classified as agricultural land. This includes cultivated land – under grains, technical crops, forages, potatoes and vegetables, or fallow – gardens, orchards, vineyards, and permanent meadows and pastures. Winter wheat, spring barley and maize are the country’s main grain crops. Sunflower and sugar beet are the main technical or industrial crops. Ukraine agriculture has been evolving since the country achieved independence in 1991, following the break up of the Soviet Union. State and collective farms were officially dismantled in 2000. Farm property was divided among the farmworkers in the form of land shares, and most new shareholders leased their land back to newly formed private agricultural associations.

The sudden loss of state agricultural subsidies had an enormous effect on every aspect of Ukrainian agriculture. The contraction in livestock inventories that had begun in the late 1980s continued and intensified. Fertiliser use decreased by 85% over 10 years, and grain production by 50%. Farms were forced to cope with fleets of ageing, inefficient machinery as no funds were available for capital investment. Emerging from the Soviet-style command economy, farmers are increasingly making more market-based decisions about crop selection and management, which increase efficiency in both the livestock and crop-production sectors. However, obtaining credit, especially large, long-term loans, remains a significant problem for many Ukrainian farmers. Contact Stephen Oberholzer on (017) 719 2304/5, 082 553 4014 or e-mail [email protected] Source: USDA Foreign Agricultural Service, Production Estimates and Crop Assessment Division report. |fw