South Australian farmer Matt Davey readily admits he loves the evolution of technology in agriculture and believes it’s key to managing the challenges facing the industry now and into the future.
Matt and his family, who run Kalimar Ag at Kadina, on the Yorke Peninsula, were among the lucky few producers to trial the Case IH AFS Connect Magnum tractor before its official launch into the Australian and New Zealand market late last year, the tractor described as a ‘true integration of tractor and technology’, with its AFS Connect portal the key to the new series.
Matt’s appreciation and enthusiasm for the tools designed to boost farm business productivity, profitability and sustainability was also officially recognised recently, with the young grain farmer named one of the recipients of a Kondinin Group/ABC Rural 2020-21 Australian Farmer of the Year award in the technology category. He said:
“We’re always looking to use machinery technology to its best advantage for our farm, because at the end of the day we spend a lot of money and we want to get the most out of it. That’s what we’re always working towards. And I really believe it’s the technology that’s allowing us to make those small percentage increases year on year that help us manage the challenges, like the impacts of climate change, confronting our industry.”
For Matt, who trialled the AFS Connect Magnum over 10 weeks, the technology was obviously of enormous interest, the young farmer and his father keen to know just how all the technology features could maximise performance, productivity and efficiency, and the attention to detail across the AFS Connect Magnum’s design leaving a lasting impression. Matt said:
“They’ve done a lot of good things inside with regards to the new-look cab and I really liked the new screen. Its features are impressive and there’s so much more programming you can do in it as well, with more options, and it allows for so much customisation.”
“There’s also numerous features that would benefit less experienced operators, potentially providing farm businesses with more options when it comes to available labour.”
The portal in the AFS Connect Magnum is designed to give the customer a view of the field operations, fleet information and agronomic data from their preferred device, wherever they are, while also allowing for the sharing of this information with trusted third parties, such as dealers and agronomists.
For Matt, the refined MultiControl armrest with configurable remotes, a MultiFunction handle with four programmable hot key buttons, an encoder knob for total control at the operator’s fingertips and an upgraded screen set the tractor apart from others he’s owned over the years. He gives the features top marks to for the opportunity it offers operators to program functions based on their needs and preferences and allowing for a more intuitive set-up. Matt said:
“When we were mowing, you could set it up, push the button on the screen to start recording, lift the mower, swing the boom the other way, it would slow down, turn the corner, push the button again, engage auto steer, drop the mower down and speed back up. With the old one you had to push the button and record it all and if you got it wrong, you’d have to clear it and start again, whereas with this one you can just go back to the bit you want to change and adjust.”
“This new tractor has a variable steering rate controller, too, so can set it to respond either slowly, at a medium speed or fast. Fast is just with half a turn and you’re at full lock. This is a cool feature because when you’re mowing, you want to turn the corner as quickly as you can, so this feature means you’re not palming the steering wheel as often to turn the corner – it really helps with comfort in the long-term.”
“We also programmed two buttons on the MultiFunction handle to swing the mower conditioner boom left or right, which again you could do intuitively, so if you hit the button on the left, it swung that way and the button on the right it goes that way. On our current tractors we’ve got a forward/back paddle, so you’re constantly having to remember which is which – it’s not intuitive like the way you can set it up in the new Magnum.”
Matt said he was impressed with the ease with which you could easily change the functions assigned to the buttons depending on what you were doing at the time.
“When I was spraying, I had them set up as different engine speed buttons, and I even had one button programmed to answer the phone; when I went back to my old tractor, I kept looking for that button, it was great. With the Multi-Control handle you don’t have to move your hand, all the functions you need at the time are right there.”
The chance to test such a technologically-advanced tractor like the AFS Connect Magnum was an opportunity for Matt and his family and they appreciated the opportunity to be part of the customer feedback process that Case IH considers so important.
“When we were trialling this tractor we were honest in our assessment and concentrated on what we thought was important to customers, and I think Case IH really appreciated that.”
Matt said. “I really believe the more we can help develop these products and get the dealers we work with, and other farmers, enthused about precision ag, the easier it will become for everyone in the long run and the more benefits it will bring.”
The AFS Connect Magnum series is available in Rowtrac and four-wheeled configurations, from 250hp all the way up to 400hp, the first time a 400hp option has been offered in the Magnum range in Australia/New Zealand. The tracked units are available for 340-400hp models, while wheeled machines go from 250-400hp.