(15:20 hrs CET, 20 December 2014, Novo Runway, Antarctica): Massey Ferguson, a worldwide brand of AGCO (NYSE:AGCO), reports that the Antarctica2 bid to drive an MF 5610 agricultural tractor on an ambitious 5000km round trip to the South Pole arrived safely back at Novo Runway on the Antarctic coast today.
In accomplishing the mission, the MF 5610 has become the first standard farm tractor equipped with tyres to reach the Geographic South Pole overland.
For ‘Tractor Girl’ and Lead Driver, 38-year-old Manon Ossevoort, her journey proved that, given belief and determination, dreams really do come true. Relying on the dependable power of the Massey Ferguson tractor and the expert support of her polar team, Manon’s 12-year dream to drive a tractor ‘to end of the world’ is now complete.
“I can’t even begin to describe the emotions I’m feeling now – elation at such a wonderful expedition, relief in getting back to Novo Runway successfully,” she said. “I can’t wait to start telling the story and hopefully encouraging others to follow their dreams.”
The adventure in the hostile Antarctic environment made huge demands on the team and equipment. A belief in the reliability of the tractor and the crew members to do their jobs was a touchstone of the expedition and enshrined in Antarctica2’s message #BelieveInIt. The difficult conditions – bitter cold, high altitude, solid ice, snowdrifts, thick freezing fog and exceptionally rough terrain – all took their toll. However, both humans and machine showed remarkable resilience in the face of adversity and rose to the challenge of this once-in-a lifetime opportunity.
With its relentless physical and mental pressures, the polar trek drew on all the team’s experience, willpower and endurance to win through. In very short periods of time, emotions could roller-coaster from exhilaration, elation and excitement to frustration and disappointment.
For the Massey Ferguson tractor, the expedition was the ultimate test of strength and durability, exerting massive strain on the components and really challenging the integrity of its design. Such an environment, where even the simplest repair is made difficult by the freezing temperatures, called for a straightforward, dependable tractor. Throughout the 28-day 5000 km journey, the MF 5610 required only a few running repairs and the engine clocked up an impressive 760 hours of operation, which is more than many farms would do in two years of normal work.
Campbell Scott, Massey Ferguson Director Sales Engineering and Brand Development said: “We send our warmest congratulations to Manon Ossevoort and the Antarctica2 crew on their magnificent achievement. They have shown extraordinary teamwork and fortitude on this epic trip.”
“In one of the most barren places on earth, we hope that the Antarctica2 expedition has served to highlight to a non-agricultural audience the way farmers are rising to the challenge of feeding the world. Modern farm equipment and appropriate technology can help make the most of the world’s cultivable land and create sustainable farm business for our long-term food security.”
Antarctica2 was so named because it is the second expedition to the South Pole by Massey Ferguson tractor. The first was undertaken by explorer Sir Edmund Hillary who successfully reached the Pole in 1958 with a fleet of specially adapted Ferguson TE20 tractors fitted with tracks as part of the Commonwealth Trans-Antarctic Expedition. With these farm tractors, Hillary had the distinction of leading the first mechanised expedition to the South Pole overland.
Like its TE20 predecessor, aside from a few preparations to shield it from the intense cold, the modern-day MF 5610 is also a production agricultural tractor available to farmers worldwide. It too has made history by becoming the first wheeled tractor equipped with agricultural tyres, rather than tracks, to make it overland to the South Pole. The tyres were developed and supplied by key expedition partner, Trelleborg.
Hillary’s route of 2177 km took 60 days and the team flew back from the Pole to Scott Base on McMurdo Sound. The adventurer sent a telegram to Massey Ferguson from Scott Base expressing his thanks to the company and commenting that it was the tractors’ “extreme reliability that made our trip to the Pole possible.”
The Antarctica2 team had the very best of 21st century communications at their disposal and reported their arrival at the South Pole live by satellite. Their messages and videos were immediately being shared around the world via social media, and they even found time to take a ‘selfie’. On reaching the Pole, they relayed their exciting news: “This is South 90 – as far South as anybody can go. It’s unbelievable – at the South Pole there is a red Massey Ferguson tractor! We are all ecstatic to be here and so proud to be taking our hero shots with the tractor that never gave us any cause to doubt that it would be up for the challenge. Thank you all for your support.”
Together with Massey Ferguson, Antarctica2 enlisted the help of leading industry partners including Trelleborg, Castrol, AGCO Finance, AGCO Parts, Fuse Technologies and MechaTrac. The Antarctica2 MF 5610 expedition tractor will be a highlight of Massey Ferguson’s stand at the upcoming SIMA Show in Paris 22-26 February 2015.