Brăila is a green, fertile island right in the middle of the Danube delta biosphere reservein the eastern part of Romania. 18,000 hectares of wheat, 11,000 hectares of rapeseedand 8000 hectares of barley were harvested last autumn. However, that is by no means all. AGRICOST Holding on Brăila runs the largest farming business in Romania. Everything that happens here is in the realm of the agricultural superlative. The island is a unique projectin Europe. Regardless of whether coming by car, tractor or at the wheel of a harvesting machine, the only way to get onto the island is by taking the ferry from Brăila's urban area. There is no bridge.
The countryside around the harbour town of Brăila, where the corporate headquarters of AGRICOST islocated, is very fertile thanks to its proximity to the Danube. Just a few kilometres from the historical centre of this metropolis of 200,000 inhabitants, great things are happening. On an eponymous island in the Danube, agricultural company AGRICOST runsits business on a total of 56,132 hectares of arable land. The magnitude of its operations is almost in conceivable. A dam 154 kilometres in length pro-tects the extensive arable fields from the river. This land is sub-divided into 20 farms. However, water on the island is essential to life because three quartersof the surface area needs to be irrigated. Five high performance pump plants, 28 high-pressure pump stations, 9800 hydrants and a pipework system with a total length of 1322 kilometres assure the provision of water, and the irrigation of the island which, extending over a total surface area of 710 km² which makes it bigger than Lake Constance. In addition, a further 1362 kilometres of open water channels crisscross the area. However, the residents of Brăiladepend for their survival on one of the most signifi-cant waterways in Europe. That is why the island hasits own little harbour where freighters can be loaded with freshly harvested crops.
140,000 tons of wheat and barley, 65,000 tons of corn, 90,000 tons of sunflowers, soya and cabbage, as well as 7000 tons of potatoes are harvested annually by the AGRICOST workforce, numbering over 800 people. These enormous quantities make the company, by its own estimates, the largest single-site agricultural business in the whole of Europe. Is someone who runs an agricultural business on this scale give anythought to environmental conservation? "Valuing the efforts of our workforce, and having equal respect for nature and our livestock are the guiding principles of our work", emphasised Lucian Buzdugan, Director General of AGRICOST. To be ableto run these vast areas of land efficiently, you need to have powerful and efficient machines. Since March, this island measuring over 60 km in length has been alive with the characteristic green livery of Fendt, the Marktoberdorf-based tractor manufacturer. 35 new 939 Vario tractors were shipped by ferry to the island, and they went straight into service in spring, the seed sowing season.
The decision to take these green tractors with theirred wheel rims to the island was actually taken duringthe previous autumn. At that time, one 936 Vario and three other tractors from different manufacturersin the performance class of 350 to 400 hp were operating on this island, located close to the BlackSea. "The tractors were tested intensively over several hundred hours", reported Cristian Danescu, DirectorGeneral of Romania's Fendt sales partner MEWI. Once the giant Allgäu tractor had proven its capabilities, Buzdugan found his decision was a quick and easy one to make. "The performance of the Fendttractor speaks for itself! Furthermore, the philosophies of our companies fit together perfectly. Particularly when it comes to achieving a perfect balance between efficiency and climate protection, the tractors from the Allgäu with their fuel-saving SCR technology and their high level of cost-effectiveness are the perfect working implements", enthused the agricultural manager. Above all, the CEO was impressed by the pace at which they could work. For one hectare, the Romanians now need just quarter of an hour, using their new high-performance tractors from the Allgäu.
Professional driver training, the 'Fendt Expert'scheme, is naturally a constituent element in the handover of new tractors. It is true that the Allgäu-based Fendt expert Hubert Martin (2nd from theright) speaks no Romanian. However, thanks to an interpreter, Cristian Cabodescu (3rd from the right), communication ran seamlessly. The Serviceman from the Romanian Fendt importer MEWI grew up in the Black Forest.
For the Romanian drivers, the mottois 'Learning by Doing'. Fendt driving instructor Hubert Martin familiarises the drivers with the new 939 Vario when planting corn.
Thumbs up for Fendt! The Director General of AGRICOST Holding, Lucian Buzdugan (2nd from the right) is delighted about the 35 new high performance tractors that arrived by ferry from the mainland back in March.
The guys in charge of AGRICOST have set themselves some challenging objectives. Buzdugan and his company wish to expand further to be competitive on the European market. "We can only obtain high harvesting yields using the most powerful agricultural vehicles, particularly when you take the gigantic surface areas involved in our work on Brăila", addedDanescu. For this, MEWI provides the team on Brăila with more than advice and active support in relation toservice matters, but also delivers organised drivertraining courses, covering theory and practice. Aconstant presence at these training courses for Romanian drivers is Hubert Martin from the Allgäu'tractor forge' (!), a Fendt Vario expert with an impeccabletrack record. "I speak no Romanian, but everythingran very smoothly indeed. I had a great interpreterwith me", replied the 52-year old drivinginstructor. Hubert Martin turned no fewer than 90 Romanian tractor drivers into real experts in their handling, operation and grasp of technology relating to theFendt tractors. The training delivered directly on andaround the vehicle is really the most important element,stated Martin. "The drivers have to sit on thetractor, they need to have the terminal in front ofthem and, in a manner of speaking, they need tobreathe Fendt air – to inhale the spirit of the brand.That is a great deal more valuable than long drawn out theoretical training courses", said the self-confident native of the Allgäu region. As a consequence, by early summer, 35 Fendt 939 Vario tractors with acombined horsepower rating of 13,650 hp were plying the 56,000 hectares on Brăila.