Machinery Link Co. was created by an active farm family in South Central Kansas. We primarily grow wheat (about 1500 acres) but also milo, soybeans, canola and feed along with the cattle. We have a 180 head cow/calf operation and background several hundred head of feeder cattle through the winter on wheat pasture. We are in an informal partnership with a young man who worked on our farm as a teenager and now is a partner with our stock and our farm on some of these projects. We jointly own our JD 9600 combine with Phil and Deb Johnson of Davenport, NE a corn farmer. The Johnson’s have been a great asset to our overall farming operation and were our special guests at our conference in Salina last January. Sheila and I have 4 lively children; Katie 10, Anna 8, Amelia 5, and Joseph 16 months.
We continue to explore new farming practices which include some no till practices. I believe this will eventually be a practice we will employ on our farm. Joint ownership of some of this specialized equipment or leasing it in the short term from someone else while we are experimenting will not only be advantages to the progress but will most likely be a necessity in the future.
Our own experience in farming and trying to add profit to our own farm operation led us to the idea of Machinery Link Co. and the need for this type of business for ourselves and others.
PROJECT DESCRIPTION AND RESULTS
Our first goal of Machinery Link Co. is to provide a database with “credibility” for farmers to be able to use on a day to day basis over a large geographic region of seasonal equipment use, to search for each other. We set out in the past year to:
– Increase our membership so there would be more opportunity for successful matches for farmers.
– To hold an educational and informative conference in Salina, KS for all members wanting to come.
– To get our current database accessible through our own internet site.
– To get the word out about Machinery Link Co. through trade shows and news articles.
One of our first goals to work on was increasing MLC visibility and our subscriber membership. To do this we felt we needed to get all of our machinery listings on the internet. By doing so our listings would be kept more current and more accessible at any time to anyone interested. We completed work on www.machinerylink.com (our internet domain site) around the first of March. We still have more work to do on our site to make it more user friendly that will be our focus in 1999.
On Sunday January 25th and 26th in Salina, KS we entertained, educated, and enjoyed 27 members and 16 guests at The Affording Tomorrows Technology Conference sponsored by Machinery Link Co. David and Shelia did all of the work totally to put together this conference, including lining up all of the speakers, working out everything with the motel and getting all of the reservations and commitments from the members that attended along with all of the publicity to the news media. We really felt that our members needed a chance to visit each other and learn from our experience. The event was a huge success and we really enjoyed the feedback we received from those who came from a total of 8 different states and as far away as 1000 miles.
In April of ’98 MLC attended the 31 Trade Show in Great Bend, KS at the show we had our own booth to gain exposure and credibility. David was interviewed on several radio shows about Machinery Link Co. and had many farmers stop by and visit at the show.
MLC gave a presentation a the Kansas Young Farmers Annual State tour in July, from the presentation we are know invited and plan to do a presentation in January of 1999 at the state annual meeting for Kansas Young Farmers and Vocational Agriculture Teachers.
We were invited to give a presentation at the 14th Annual “Women In Agriculture: The Critical Difference” conference in Kearney, NE. At this conference Shelia and David team worked a workshop which we did two times. The people that attended gave us great reviews after the conference. By attending this conference we gained some contacts with the Nebraska extension department and they have expressed some interest in using our service as a tool for farmers to find on the internet when they come into the extension office looking for assistance.
The key people who helped make our Salina, KS conference a success include:
– Jerry Warman – KSU Extension Area Extension agent Hutchinson, KS
– Lynn Rundle – CEO 21st Century Alliance Manhattan, KS
– Roger Vanlandingham – Farm Credit Services Association Kingman, KS
– John T. Suter – Senior Law Partner of Reynold, Forker, Berkley, Suter, and Rose, Hutchinson, KS
– Steve Cranston – owner of S&S Trailer Sales – Ness City, KS
– Darrell Holiday – Advanced Market Concepts Manhattan, KS
– Phil Johnson – farmer, machinery partner in Harvesters Inc, Davenport NE
– Greg MaCormack – Reno County KS Extension agent
– Joann Wilcox – reporter for Successful Farming Magazine, Iowa
– Larry Reichenberger – free lance farm reporter, KS
– Dan Looker – Business Editor Successful Farming Magazine
– Lisa Bauer – SARE representative Lincoln, NE
– William Spiegel – reporter for Kansas Farmer Magazine
We are pleased to have more participation by 46 new members into Machinery Link Co. during the past year. By being able to do these presentations we have planted many new seeds across a large region. Ray Bange, a farmer in his late 50’s of Menlo Kansas, is a great example. Ray is a member and after talking to us, and some of the members he went back to his local community and began to work with a younger farmer right down the road. Today they have joined forces in harvesting their crops as well as sharing machinery and leasing it to each others operation.
Machinery Link Co. has saw many things happen to members over the past couple of years since it began. We have saw two Kansas farmers get together and co-own a platform for a combine that they both lease from a Nebraska corn farmer each year for their wheat harvest. We have seen a farmer in Minnesota team up with a farmer in North Dakota and co-own a Combine. We have saw at least two different farmers from Missouri come to two different Kansas farms leasing their combines to these wheat farmers while they enjoy the wheat harvest running their own machines. There is nothing more rewarding to us then seeing farmers work together, enjoy what they love doing and making new friends in the process of making a better living for themselves.
The results of Machinery Link can not be measured in the short term for this is a long term project. We also need to express the value of the SARE grant to this project because we have found it impossible to charge a realistic membership fee to pay for phone calls and staff to accomplish these goals. It is our intent to have Machinery Link be one of the tools of the future tool box for farmers to use!
Machinery Link has been a real eye opener for us as a farm family. We now have a greater appreciation for the time many people in extension and the costs that go along with conveying programs and new ideas to farmers. We believe the most critical factor for farming in the future will be how well the network system works for them! We plan to be in the middle of making a great network they can use successfully!