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Countdown begins for tractor departure to South Pole

The MF 5610 tractor set to journey to the South Pole in less than six weeks’ time has successfully completed stringent tests in Iceland.

Known as Antarctica2, the adventurous mission to drive a tractor to the Geographical South Pole is the dream of Manon Ossevort, aka ‘Tractor Girl’, who will pilot the specially-prepared MF 5610 on the 2350km expedition across treacherous snow and ice. In doing so, she and her expert back-up team will echo the achievement of Sir Edmund Hillary who trekked to the South Pole using three Ferguson tractors in 1958.

The Antarctica2 expedition is being organised to highlight the need for sustainable food security through the provision of accessible technologies and innovative services to allow future farmers to meet the world's growing requirement for food.

Modified by the engineering team at AGCO’s Beauvais tractor plant in France, the MF 5610 completed its final testing over a two-week period in Iceland. “The tractor performed extremely well in our trials,” says Massey Ferguson Engineering Project Manager, Olivier Hembert. “It will have to endure temperatures down to minus 40 degrees centigrade, altitude of 3400 metres and tackle deep, soft snow. This kind of environment calls for straightforward, dependable engineering for which Massey Ferguson is renowned. Previous tests in Iceland and France were made to check its performance in polar ground conditions and at very low temperatures.”

Throughout the journey, the tractor’s AgCommandTM telematics system will relay performance information back to a 24-hour support team in Beauvais. “The clock is now ticking for this long-planned project to become reality,” adds Olivier. “We are very excited about monitoring our tractor’s progress across the challenging icescape and ensuring its technical and mechanical stamina to accomplish the mission.”

Livestreaming and regular updates via a dedicated website will keep the rest of the world in touch with the adventure’s progress. The tractor and team depart Novo Base in East Antarctica around 24 November and are scheduled to arrive at the South Pole around 15 December.

Support for Antarctica2 is being provided by partners including Massey Ferguson, Trelleborg, AGCO Finance, Castrol, AGCO Parts, Fuse Technologies and Mechatrac.