One spring morning in 1976, at the height of a sowing season, Roy Quist, a resident of the small Kansas town called Salina, did not appear in the field. Sitting down in the garage, the engineer Quist was completing his promising project. Finally having left the workshop, he still went to the field – and in three days he sowed as much soya as his fellow farmers had been sowing for a week and a half. Quist showed his own invention to the stunned field neighbors. It was a longitudinal knife on each drill, which did not plough up the land, but cut it for each seed and thus saved time for sowing. Quist patented the invention and started a company called Great Plains Manufacturing specializing in innovative seed drills production. In 40 years, Great Plains Manufacturing has developed from a garage workshop into an international corporation. The company has 30 dealerships around the world; it is represented in Europe, Ukraine and Russia.

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Quist patented the invention and started a company called Great Plains Manufacturing specializing in innovative seed drills production

The first drill with a longitudinal cutting knife was made by Quist for his own needs. After working efficiency demonstration of his new equipment Kansasian’s seed drills were ordered by his colleagues from the neighboring ranches. By the early 1980s Quist had given up farming and had focused on the seed drills production upon his own project. In 1985, the seed drills by the inventive American were taken to the first Agritechnica exhibition in Frankfurt on Mein. The following year Great Plains machinery went to the test site in the fields of Kent in the UK.

Europeans appreciated Quist’s invention. The first seed drills tests were a great success. German and English farmers saved on soil preparations and extra wages for workers. Owing to topsoil slitting the plant roots grew more evenly what increased crop yields by 10%. And lastly, Great Plains drills were twice as fast as their traditional counterparts and could cover about 20 km per hour. In the UK, where only 2% of the population was engaged in the agriculture at that time, the demand for Quist’s equipment was extreme. The British tried to make the agricultural sector as efficient as possible and were willing to pay for the American’s innovative technology. In early 1990s, Great Plains opened a representative office in London.

Great Plains introduction to the international market coincided with worldwide increasing demand for soya and corn. From 1990 to 2006 the amount of soya production throughout the world doubled, and the United States, Brazil, Argentina and China became the major crop players on the market. To seize the trend Quist upgraded his drill. The new design allowed sowing soybeans and maize not in rows but in a staggered manner. Such approach made it possible to sow more seeds without reducing the growing area of each plant. Crop yield increased by a third. In the mid-noughties Great Plains opened offices in all four soya market leading countries. “Our seed drills with a standard row-width spacing of 70 cm sowed in two staggered rows at intervals of 20 cm. Thus, feeding area for each plant is three times expanded,” – Andrei Vorobyov, the director of the Ukrainian representative office explains the benefits of Great Plains equipment.

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Andrei Vorobyov, the director of the Ukrainian representative office explains the benefits of Great Plains equipment

This year Great Plains has ridden a wave of soybeans production once again, but this time they have done it in Ukraine. When sunflower seeds dramatically lost in value due to overproduction of sunflower oil, many Ukrainian producers loaded their output with soybeans. This crop demand is more stable, and it can be stored much longer than sunflower seeds. Many Ukrainian farmers are certain that the situation with sunflower will be prolonged and therefore they do not mind sowing their fields with corn or soybeans that are in demand. That is why Great Plains has offered an upgraded line of seed drills and cultivators. In addition to economical use of seeds, efficiency and speed, the price of American equipment appeals to Ukrainian farmers. According to Vorobyov, although the cost of innovative seed drills by Great Plains reaches $200,000, which is one third more expensive than usual, “the difference is literally offset within one season.”

The agricultural company “Mriya” which was going through hard times became one of the first customers of Great Plains. “Mriya” purchased 10 Great Plains cultivators. The cost of such cultivator reaches $100 000 at the market. The investment paid off within the same season. The new equipment allowed the company to seed 130,000 hectares in record time despite the dry spring and limited budget. “It can be said that they have halved their budget and have got out of this situation with maximum efficiency,” – Vorobyov said.

The head of the Great Plains Ukrainian representative office hopes that the largest Ukrainian agricultural holding “Mironovskiy Hleboproduct” will become a regular customer of the Kansas company. The enterprise plans to increase the acreage for sowing soya which is the basis of bird feed. Kernel Company is also sizing up the innovative equipment. Vorobyov says that pre-last year Andrei Verevskiy’s company bought 47 containers of various agricultural equipment from Great Plains. Now the new models of seed drills and cultivators from the United States are being examined at Kernel Company.

Those Ukrainian farmers who have already switched to the modernized seed drills from Kansas do not regret it. “Staggered manner of seeding in good weather conditions can actually increase productivity by 10%”, – notes Mikhail Bernatsky, the General Director of “Rost Agro” Company. “Now about 60% of our sales are accounted for the Ukrainian market”, – says Vorobyov.

The company’s plans are to continue conquering the world market with innovative technologies. At the latest agricultural equipment exhibition in Hannover Great Plains’ engineers demonstrated the capabilities of their high precision fertilization complex. The system is mounted on the cultivators of the company and injects the fertilizer into each sowed seed during the passage of the unit across the field. The board computer sensors monitor the work of fertilizer nozzles. The saving of fertilizers as well as the increase in productivity reaches 15%. The new project of Great Plains’ engineers has already been appreciated at home. Their equipment has got into the short list of the American Society of Agricultural Engineers contest. Kiev agricultural company “Svitanok” has become the first buyer of “the smart cultivators”. Vorobyov has no doubts that demand for the equipment of his company will continue to increase.

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