THE Australian sugarcane industry is one that we’re very proud of at Case IH. And we know that those who work within it are all equally proud of it; Australia sets the example for the rest of the world in the industry.
Taking into consideration that we only produce about 2 per cent of the global market, and compared to the size of the markets we’re competing with, this is no mean feat.
Queensland is where the world’s first cane harvester was developed, where today’s process for how sugarcane gets from paddock to mill was first explored.
For Case IH, the Australian sugarcane industry has been a big part of our development as a company. Since the purchase of Toft Industries in 1995, we have been determined to maintain their legacy of innovation, and we endeavour to do this through consultation with the industry.
Since production of the Austoft began to move over to Brazil in 2005, we have strived to keep its spirit Australian, bringing people from the factory over so that they can really understand where the Austoft has come from and what our customers value about it - cost of ownership, reliability and ease of operation.
The Austoft - conceived and developed on Australian soil - is now servicing industries in locations as diverse as India, Australia, China, Brazil, Sudan and Papua New Guinea, to name a few.
But it’s not all about us; the story of the Austoft’s development is one of an industry’s innovations which got us to where we are today. There have been a few throughout Case IH’s history, and the common theme which has always guided our innovative approach is providing customers with ever-improving technologies that enable them to farm more efficiently and profitably.
2017 is an exciting year for Case IH; we’re celebrating our 175th anniversary. For us, this is an opportunity to reflect on the past, in order to prepare for the future.
And boy, have we come a long way in those 175 years. We’ve seen incredible changes throughout our industry in that time, from changes in machines, to improvements in emissions and advancements in technology that have made the way we farm today possible.
Farming’s changed, and has been constantly changing for hundreds of years. From the year 400 when the Romans developed crop-rotation systems, to the Agricultural Revolution in the 1700s, which improved crop-growing and animal-husbandry; new farm-equipment inventions.
For the sugarcane industry, the big game-changer came in the 1940s when the Toft brothers saw an opportunity to make their industry more economical, and consequently developed and patented the world’s first cane harvester.
Last year revealed another game-changer - the autonomous concept vehicle, known as the ACV or the driverless tractor. At Case IH, we believe that the technology that has come out of the ACV’s development - technology that has been in the works for years - is the start of something amazing for agriculture.
Information and information control - rather than the actual hardware - are the biggest advances that we see in regards to where we’re up to with agtech. The whole idea of bringing that autonomous tractor out of the development shed was to show people we’re not sitting there waiting; we’re progressing rapidly.
Think about feeding that future global population of 9 billion. In Australia, we farm the driest continent on Earth, with some of the world’s highest produce yields. What we’re always trying to do is to make sure that we get the optimal return on every square centimetre of dirt.
Agtech is the way forward here. There are a lot of different opportunities out there and agtech really does open a very big door, leading into the question: “what’s next”?
What can we do? Well, we can do anything. We just need to find the technology.
- Bruce Healy is Case IH’s brand leader for Australia and New Zealand.