We were talking to Volodymyr Siryi, Kusto Agro Farming director, about the last year results and plans for the current season.
2017: the results
At the last year end, most Kusto Agro Farming farms witnessed better yields compared to the previous time period. The only exception is AE Spika located in Andrushivsky district of Zhytomyr region. Due to the unfavorable weather conditions (only 150 mm of precipitation instead of the required 600 mm), the farm showed a bit worse figures. On the contrary, Kalynivsky Agrokhim, located in Kalynivsky district of Vinnytsia region, came up with the best yields.
If we talk about specific crops, corn showed the highest results: its yield is a quarter better than the previous year.
“Weather conditions have changed, but in spite of this, we have shown consistent results for the second season in a row. The figures even exceed the planned targets. We have succeeded to mitigate the adverse weather conditions due to compliance with the appropriate growing technique and modern machinery utilization.
Kalynivsky Agrokhim is worth noting individually. Their agronomists, headed by V. Babenko, could manage the corn yield of 17 tons/ha, and the sunflower yield of 4.5 tons/ha.
Agroline-Ukraine is another agribusiness which showed high results, farming 757 hectares of winter wheat and 519 hectares of soya. The farm’s agronomists, lead by agronomist I. Prysiazhniuk, harvested 8.5 tons of winter wheat per hectare and 3.2 tons soybeans per hectare,” says Volodymyr Siryi, director of Kusto Agro Farming.
The agricultural machinery fleet is based on one enterprise – Servisagroteh – in the village of Baikivka, Vinnytsia region. There are also warehouses storing spare parts and a set of service equipment.
The machinery fleet is planned to be enlarged during the current year. Solid fertilizer spreader Amazone ZG-B 8200 has already been purchased. In addition to this unit, a number of other new acquisitions is still expected. A total of about $800,000 are allocated to purchase new machinery. In particular, the following units will be purchased:
- two Case Tiger Mate cultivators;
- an inter-row cultivator with the simultaneous mineral fertilizer application and automatic cultivator precision steering;
- two John Deere tractors;
- Kinze seed drill with additional equipment, the total cost of which is about $200,000;
- trailers, sunflower headers.
The entire complex of this equipment will be purchased by July 2018.
“Every year we update and expand our machinery fleet. The enterprise is not little. Therefore, we cannot completely renew the entire fleet within a single off-season period, but we are gradually expanding,” Volodymyr Siryi says.
All newly purchased machinery is equipped with modern precision farming systems, so machine operators are to be properly trained to operate and service this kind of machinery. That is why the Kusto Agro Company carries out annual training sessions for field managers, engineers, and machine operators. Besides, last year, we started sending our staff members to undergo advanced training abroad.
Kusto Agro has John Deere machinery in service. This company’s Ukrainian representative office has specially equipped classrooms where our specialists are trained. Based on the Servisagroteh enterprise, the Pottinger Company’s representatives train our engineers and machine operators.
“We have a fairly close relationship with Pottinger. Our machine operators visited the company’s plant in Austria where the company manufactures agricultural machinery. Not top managers, but those specialists who work with these seed drills went there, and they asked a lot of questions. After that, the Pottinger representatives visited our company. They asked for advice and about our vision, they were also interested to hear suggestions on the seed drills modernization which would allow increasing productivity and efficiency.
We initiated a roundtable discussion where our engineering and agronomic staff was present. We discussed all the details together, and, as a result, we proposed five key innovatory points that Pottinger designers would try to implement in their products.
Last year, Kusto Agro sent machine operators abroad to learn at the company’s expense for the first time. This year, we will continue this practice, and other companies, not only Pottinger, are joining our program.
We resort to it because the machinery is expensive. The tractor costs 200 to 250 thousand. And giving it to a driver who doesn’t understand it the way he should is too risky. Modern machinery is usually equipped with several computers: one to operate the tractor and the others for trailer equipment, seed drills, or sprayers. The person in charge has to understand and feel familiar with the machinery to make it work the way it should and not to stand idle.
This is the strategy we are trying to align with now,” says Kusto Agro Farming director.
Plans for 2018
We sowed winter crops last year. Favorable weather conditions in autumn and careful technology compliance became the prerequisite to achieving excellent results – the winter crops have developed well. This allows us to hope for a good harvest this year.
“The company’s approach is to allocate about half of the cultivated area for winter crops. For instance, 45% of the area is under wheat, rye, and rape this year. We do it for a number of reasons: firstly, the crop rotation, and secondly, we lessen the burden on the machinery this way. Spring has very short a period with the required humidity, that’s why we always divide: one part is winter crops, and the other one is spring crops,” Volodymyr Siryi says.
This year, the company will focus on those croppers which it is experienced to grow. The optimal growing technologies are defined for them, and that allows receiving good returns. Besides the mentioned wheat, rye, and rape, Kusto Agro will also focus on growing corn, soybeans, and peas.
“We’ve paid considerable attention to the research on hybrid crops to choose among for this production year. In 2017, we had a large selection of demo fields: 115 corn hybrids, 54 sunflower hybrids, and 23 winter rape hybrids. All croppers come from various leading world producers. This approach allowed us to choose hybrids with the best yields for production in 2018,” Volodymyr Siryi concludes.
We should also mention that the company is laying out a fruit and berry garden in 2018. At the first stage, the farm will grow organic and ordinary strawberries, as well as cherries.