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The 942 is easy going and overall a mature concept.

Fitim Mehmeti, Contracting company M & H Agricultural Logistics, Wobeck, Germany - Fendt 900, 1000 Vario

The 942 is easy going and overall a mature concept.

Easy going

It's mid-July, shortly after 9 o'clock in the morning, and the thermometer has already come close to the "heat-free" limit. A shady spot with a view of the farm seems to make the most sense for the interview, and not just because of Corona. Sitting opposite me are contractor Fitim Mehmeti and his employee Anni Hantelmann. The topics of conversation are to be tillage and experiences with the new 9 Series from Fendt. But first my gaze wanders over the farm - the residential building and barns suggest a time-honored estate and not a contracting company, I assume. "That's right," the contractor confirms. "This is the Wobeck monastery estate, which Falk Henties has leased along with the approximately 360 hectares of arable land - who, in turn, is also a partner in our contracting company M & H Agrarlogistik together with me," he explains. A separate contracting company for an arable farm? "Yes and no," Fitim Mehmeti continues. "Yes, because the efficiency and therefore machine utilization required in today's arable farming is no longer feasible, even with 360 ha. That is why Falk Henties does not invest in its own technology for sole use, but completely outsources field work to us as M & H Agrarlogistik. And no, because of course we work as a service provider not only for one customer, but now for twelve permanent customers in agriculture within a radius of 50 km."

Complete solution

However, the "meanwhile" does not refer to a long period of time, but to just three years. Fitim Mehmeti started his own business at the age of 18 as a "one-man entrepreneur" for agricultural services - that was nine years ago. M & H Agrarlogistik only got off the ground in 2018. Since then, the team has grown to 14 permanent employees and up to 20 seasonal helpers. Most of them come from the agricultural sector and/or have a corresponding agricultural education or degree. Anni Hantelmann also has her roots in her parents' business and has been working at M & H since 2018. "What I find exciting here is the diverse range of tasks, the modern technology, the close cooperation with customers - and not to forget the team spirit. Working independently, a flat hierarchy and uncomplicated cooperation are really great," she emphasizes.

For a large part of the twelve customers mentioned, M & H carries out the entire foreign trade. The basis of the cooperation is usually formed by fixed contracts with terms of between five and ten years. They give both sides security, as Fitim Mehmeti explains: "This applies to us as a relatively young company that has to earn its equity gradually. But the farmers also have the certainty that their land will be farmed reliably, in high quality and, thanks to high efficiency, also very profitably," he adds. Another positive aspect is that service prices are agreed on a binding contractual basis, he emphasizes: "And at a good level. Because our customers want the best possible solutions from us and are prepared to pay for them within reasonable limits." As a small example of problem solving, he cites the last-minute decision this early summer to use some cereal crops as whole-plant silage. The reason, according to Fitim Mehmeti, was the growing problem of resistant field foxtail. "To prevent the weed seeds from spreading, we chopped some affected stands. However, we also drove the chopping column to customers' sites when it was not a complete field, but only partial areas. The effort is somewhat higher, but the result counts," he emphasizes.

Move as little soil as possible - this motto applies to stubble cultivation at M & H. Regular checking of the work result is part of this.

As flat as possible

However, this is only one of several important measures to control problem grasses and weeds. Another factor is soil cultivation, especially stubble cultivation, which is the first operation after harvesting. The young contractor attaches greater importance to this than to plowing, for example. The latter is, of course, also on the agenda at M & H, but "only" for around 300 hectares of land earmarked for barley. "With this crop and the heavy soils here, plowing makes perfect sense - but not for weed control. For that, it's better to generally loosen the soil as shallowly as possible right after harvest," says Fitim Mehmeti. And Anni Hantelmann adds: "Flat means really flat - and in such a way that as little soil as possible has to be moved, i.e. the grain stubble is not tilted or even turned upside down. For some farmers, this takes some getting used to. But the goal of getting weeds and grass to germinate is met, and that's what matters." With a view to the weed load in the grain, he can therefore even imagine, for example, working the grain stubble after harvest with a harrow alone. "We actually had that planned for 2020, but unfortunately haven't gotten around to testing it yet," he says.

Hobbyhorse soil

The technical means of choice for soil cultivation on a large part of the cultivated areas are - as also for seedbed preparation - short disc harrow and cultivator. Each year, the contracting company sows about 1,800 hectares on behalf of customers, and on this area the soil was also largely worked by M & H beforehand. Some plots also undergo two or three further operations after stubble cultivation. In total, this makes - including the already mentioned 300 plowed hectares - about 5,500 ha per year in tillage. In general, the contractor describes the subject as one of his hobbyhorses. "The soil and the way it is treated is, after all, an essential basis for crop production success. That's why, for me, tillage is not a chore, but a component of good quality service," he emphasizes. So even when it comes to tire selection, soil protection is the measure of all things for him. For example, his new Fendt 942, which he has been using since April, runs on 900 Michelin tires at the rear and 710 at the front, with a pressure of 0.6 bar in the field - not to mention a tire pressure control system. For Fitim Mehmeti, large working widths are also a means of protecting the soil, simply by reducing the number of passes. In tillage, this amounts to 6 m to 8 m for him, which in turn challenges the tractors. "Our topography here on the northern edge of the Elm is quite ambitious. With 8 m wide cultivators and 30 cm working depth on clay soil on a slope, the reserves are challenged, and 400 hp is already the lower limit. That's why we have our Fendt 1050 for this task, among others," says the contractor.

The new tractor comes with the tire pressure control system right from the factory.

Convincing technology concept

For him, the new 942, which has been in operation since April, is also a key machine in tillage. In the first three months, the tractor has already clocked up 300 operating hours. It is calculated to run for about 1,600 hours per year - a value that will now be easily achieved with the fall sowing and the other tasks ahead, as Anni Hantelmann emphasizes. She is a self-confessed Fendt fan, knows the different machine generations and their technical possibilities very well - and is enthusiastic about the "new one" among the M & H tractors. This results from very different aspects, among which she explicitly emphasizes the low-speed concept. "It's great to see what the machine pulls at 1,100 rpm and how low the fuel consumption is, even with heavy work," she explains. As an example, she cites use with the 8-m disc harrow, where the 942's thirst settles between 15 and 16 l/h on average. "On steeper slopes, of course, it sometimes gets more - but then the power can be called up." She finds the tractor engine management system, which automatically adjusts the engine speed to the respective power requirements, very helpful - especially with regard to (not yet) experienced drivers. And Fitim Mehmeti remarks: "As far as that is concerned, the 942 is easy going and overall a mature concept." He also sees a number of other positive things about the new 942 compared to its predecessor series. For him, these include the even greater ride comfort, a real motivating factor for employees from the employer's point of view. "You can't underestimate that, even when recruiting new employees. Fendt was also set with us from the start for this reason anyway, but the new 9-series generation is already in a league of its own."

Not everything alone

Not without - at M & H, this applies equally to the cooperation with its agricultural machinery dealers of choice, first and foremost Agravis Technik Heide-Altmark with its workshop in Königslutter and the Horsch Center of NewTec in Peine. "Both teams are available virtually around the clock in case of emergency and provide us with excellent support. This is very important to me when choosing a technology brand and makes it possible for us to keep our own workshop lean," explains Fitim Mehmeti. The term lean also applies to his "own" machinery, as becomes clear during the conversation. The contractor sees no point in having to keep machines on hand for everything and every activity in his range of services. And if he buys his own equipment, he prefers to lease it first and then own it later. In addition, he relies on close cooperation with partners, for example in fertilization with Bollmer or in the execution of work with other contractors, such as chopping and manure spreading with LU Ährensache. "Why should everyone reinvent the wheel? Profit comes primarily from utilization and efficiency, and that's true for us as contractors, too." He is not worried about losing customers to colleagues in the process. "The chemistry fits. And our customers want us to reliably solve their problems as a complete package. How we do that is secondary for them. What's important is the result."

Source: LU Special November 2020 edition