• 17-OCT-2019

Behind the Wheel: Simply the best – 75 years of mechanized sugar cane harvesting


The affection Ken Schmidt, Product Performance Manager for Case IH, has for the machine he calls “the Tina Turner of sugar cane harvesters” is at once blindingly obvious and infectious. Ken positively delights in inviting his audience to ask him the question: what does an iconic piece of agricultural machinery from the 1980s possibly have in common with the legendary Queen of Rock? All is revealed in this latest episode of our Behind the Wheel series which traces the history of sugar cane harvesting from its very beginnings to the present day: cnhindustrial.com/simplythebest_en
The year is 1944 and the young men of Australia, who would usually be engaged in bringing in the sugar cane harvest by hand, have been called elsewhere. Happily for the population of Australia, the Toft brothers take the famous words of Plato, “necessity is the mother of all invention”, to heart and invent the world’s first mechanized sugar cane harvester. And the rest, as they say, is history.
2019 marks the 75th anniversary of the first Australian built mechanized sugar cane harvester. The Toft brother’s invention revolutionized the industry and improved the working conditions of the thousands of workers who previously carried out the back breaking work of cutting sugar cane by hand. By the 1970s, Toft Bros was one of the most significant manufacturers of cane harvesters in the world. In 1986 the company rebranded as Austoft, and in 1996 was acquired by Case IH, today a global agricultural machinery brand of CNH Industrial (NYSE: CNHI /MI: CNHI). The film includes some spectacular aerial footage of the latest Case IH Austoft machines at work in Brazil, where they are now manufactured, and from where they are exported across the globe. 
This Behind the Wheel webisode provides a snapshot of the history of sugar cane harvesting mechanization and pays tribute to the pioneering Toft brothers and their ingenious invention though the use of archive footage, photographs and interviews with past and present employees.
London, October 17, 2019