It’s a local invention that’s a household name within the global sugarcane industry, and this year it marks 75 years in paddocks in Australia and across the globe.
The Case IH Austoft sugarcane harvester has never looked better, evolving into the high-tech, sleek looking machine of today, but retaining the innovation edge that heralded the arrival of the machine back in 1944.
The Toft brothers invented and sold the first commercially-viable cane harvester in that year. The company that was formed after that initial success went onto great things, with the predecessors to today’s Austoft manufactured in Bundaberg, Queensland, for many years.
By the 1970s, Toft Bros was one of the major manufacturers of cane harvesters in the world and Bundaberg considered a global centre for the development and manufacture of the machines. But changing market forces a decade later saw Toft Bros move through a number of foreign owners, before the company was re-claimed by Australian interest in 1986 and re-branded Austoft.
Case IH came on board a decade later when they bought the company, and market forces again came into play when the Bundaberg Austoft plant was closed in 2004 and operations moved to Brazil.
The name remains though, with the Austoft today hard at work in Australia and across the globe from India and China, to the Sudan, Papua New Guinea and throughout South America.
Pete McCann, General Manager for Case IH Australia and New Zealand, said it was a significant milestone in the harvester’s history and a proud moment for Case IH.
“The Austoft is such an iconic piece of machinery and we’re proud to have it in our stable of products. This anniversary is also a chance for us to pay tribute to the homegrown ingenuity that conceived the idea for that very first machine 75 years ago,” he said.
“We pioneered the introduction of hydraulic systems on harvesters and continue to invest in simplifying and upgrading the efficiency of these systems.
“Last year we launched the latest Austoft into the market, the Austoft® 8010 Series, with 28 new features and improvements that came out of more than 18,000 hours of field-testing.”
Pete said Case IH was committed to significant investment in product research and development related to its sugarcane offering, in line with the investment and commitment made by Australian sugarcane producers.
“This anniversary is a chance for us, to also thank our customers and dealers throughout the nation’s sugar-growing regions who inspire the ongoing quest for improvements and upgrades that will power the Austoft beyond 2020,” he said