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Going out for the Guinness

A variety of organizations have made massive efforts to grab ownership of world records involving farm machinery

Lately, several special interest groups have been gathering tractors and combines together at massive events in order to get into the Guinness Book of World Records. In fact, the rush to claim the title of “The most…” when it comes to farm equipment records seems to be this decade’s equivalent of scarfing down record numbers of goldfish or getting the most college students into a VW Beetle, something that was all the rage in the ’60s (for those of you that can’t remember them).

A few of the agricultural “The most…” titles some groups have targeted seem just as unusual as swallowing goldfish. For example, on August 5th, the Dunsmore and District Vintage Club in Ireland broke its own Guinness world record for the largest number of tractors and single-chop forage harvesters working in one field. The previous record was 26.

105 units showed up for that challenge, but two were double-chop machines and were disqualified. 17 became stuck in the soft field conditions or had breakdowns and couldn’t finish the prescribed course. But the remaining group was sufficient to garner a new record for the club.

Last year, the Harvest For Hunger group set a record by letting 115 combines loose in a 160 acre, Ontario soybean crop and polishing it off in less than 12 minutes. Like that one, most attempts at setting records are a way to raise funds for charity.

So far, no one I know of has tried grabbing the record for cramming the most college kids into a tractor cab, but here’s a look at a few of the more notable record-setting attempts from this past year.

The biggest parade

On September 17, a group of enthusiasts used the Nebraska State Fair, held in Grand Island, as a venue to organize the largest parade of tractors that are more than 30 years old. They made their way into the Guinness book in that category by marshalling 964 tractors into one very long parade, which made its way around the Fonner Park race track on the fair grounds. The event was a part of the fair’s opening ceremony.

In order to qualify, each tractor’s VIN number had to be checked to certify it was built more than 30 years ago. Of the more than 1,000 tractors and drivers who participated, 964 met the requirements. Each tractor had to join in the parade for enough laps around the track to log two miles.

Canada vs. Ireland

No. This wasn’t a weird hockey game involving tractors. But it seems we have developed a rivalry with the Irish on the combine-record front. This summer, on a 130 acre field in County Meath Ireland, 208 new and old combines gathered together in one field and harvested a barley crop. On the day, 211 machines showed up, but three broke down and couldn’t participate. That beat the record of 200 combines set in Manitoba in 2010. Before that, the Irish had held the previous record with a tally of 175 machines.

But just as the Irish were unwilling to admit defeat and surrender the crown without a rematch, we Canadians were apparently unwilling to give up either. On October 6, Harvest For Kids, the same non-profit organization that organized the 2010 record-setting event, took another run a regaining the title for Canada and put 249 combines in one field near Saskatoon.

“We were able to fill all 249 swaths with combines,” said Derek Unrau, director of Harvest for Kids, immediately following the event. “But a few did not finish so we do not yet have a final number. We will need to review footage in order to see exactly, but we were right around 245 combines harvesting simultaneously on a single field. A new Guinness world record.”

The Saskatoon event will also be part of a documentary entitled The Great American Wheat Harvest. That film is expected to be released in the spring of 2014.

After this growing season, I think there ought to be a Guinness World Record category for the highest number of breakdowns by one machine in a single seeding season. I’d be a contender in that one for sure. †

About the author

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Scott Garvey

Scott Garvey is a freelance writer and video producer. He is also the former machinery editor at Grainews.

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