DATE: 13th  November 2014                                                                 


Antarctica2 echoes Sir Edmund Hillary’s 1958 expedition

to the South Pole by tractor


The 2014 Massey Ferguson Antarctica2 mission to take a tractor to the South Pole emulates the achievement of explorer Sir Edmund Hillary, who led the first mechanised expedition to the South Pole in 1958 using a fleet of Ferguson TE20 tractors.


In 2014, 56 years since Hillary’s journey and 56 years since the birth of the Massey Ferguson brand, an MF 5600 tractor will make a similar trek across the ice.

This is the first chapter in an unfolding modern-day adventure story which will see the realisation of a dream for the lead driver and an extreme test of endurance for the tractor and the entire crew. In a 5000 km return journey across the unforgiving icescape, the expedition is scheduled to depart Novo Base in the latter part of November and reach the Geographical South Pole sometime around mid-December.



This second Antarctic expedition is being organised to highlight the need for the provision of accessible technologies and innovative services to allow future farmers to meet the world’s growing requirement for food. In this hostile polar environment, the expedition will demonstrate some of the very latest tractor technology now available. During its few weeks on the ice, the MF 5610 will clock up as many hours’ operation as an average year’s work  on many farms.


Along with Massey Ferguson which is supplying the tractor, Antarctica2 has enlisted  the help of leading industry partners including Trelleborg, Castrol, AGCO Finance, AGCO Parts and Fuse Technologies.


“Antarctica2 is a bold and exciting mission full of exceptional challenges and we are extremely proud to be part of it,” says Warwick McCormick, Vice President and Managing Director for AGCO/Massey Ferguson . “It fully reflects the spirit of our brand and our desire to achieve, no matter how difficult or demanding the path may be.”


The 110hp MF 5610 has been specially-prepared by the Massey Ferguson engineering team at AGCO’s Beauvais tractor plant in France.


Expedition Ambassador and Lead Driver is Manon Ossevoort, better known as ‘Tractor Girl’. She has already driven a tractor from her childhood home in the Netherlands to South Africa.


Manon is joined by an expert team including seasoned polar explorers Matty McNair (Expedition Lead Guide ) and her daughter Sarah McNair-Landry (Expedition Guide and Audio-Visual Support), Nicolas Bachelet (Lead Mechanic) and Simon Foster (Creative Director and Audio-Visual Lead). Expedition specialists, Arctic Trucks will provide guidance and safety support.


“It was my dream to drive a tractor to the end of the world, and I was inspired by Sir Edmund Hillary’s mission,” Manon explains, “I found that along the way my journey inspired other people to talk about their own dreams, so I set about collecting these dreams with the goal of taking them to the South Pole with me.”


The MF 5610 tractor has been subject to extensive cold weather testing under the supervision of Massey Ferguson Engineering Project Manager, Olivier Hembert. “The polar environment demands the kind of straightforward, dependable engineering for which MF machines are famous,” he says. “Indeed, our tractors are already regularly at work in very low temperatures on farms inside the Arctic Circle for example.”


Temperatures down to minus 40 degrees C, altitude of 3400 metres and deep soft snow are among the raft of technical challenges for the tractor. The machine’s three-cylinder engine remains unaltered but specific adaptations have been made to the cab, electrics,  air intake and filtration to withstand the freezing conditions. Key partner, Trelleborg worked closely with the Massey Ferguson engineering team to develop a multi-purpose set of tyres for maximum traction and safety in the severe environment. Tyres are more efficient for this kind of expedition than tracks because they are capable of higher speeds, use less fuel and also provide suspension.  The tractor will run on Jet A1 fuel.


The expedition also calls on AGCO’s wide-ranging parts supply and advanced technical capabilities. A stock of parts from AGCO Parts will be carried on the mission and a twice-daily maintenance regime carried out. The AgCommandTM telematics system will relay performance information back to a 24-hour support team at the tractor factory in Beauvais and enable them to monitor the machine’s progress across the ice. A special version of AgCommand will allow the engineers to makes regular analysis of live data  such as fuel consumption, forward speed and oil temperature. 


Live streaming and regular updates via a dedicated website will keep the rest of the world in touch with the adventure’s progress. Members of the Antarctica2 team will be able to communicate their own personal stories of life on the mission and have their messages delivered via social media including Facebook and Twitter.


When the MF 5610, with its Tractor Girl and her cargo of dreams onboard, arrives at the South Pole it will be testament to the work of all the partners in the Antarctica2 project and their deep commitment to its message –  #BelieveInIt.


Leading industry partners supporting Antarctica2 include Massey Ferguson, Trelleborg, Castrol, AGCO Finance, AGCO Parts, Fuse Technologies and MechaTrac.



MF5610_Antarctica Trial
MF5610 tractor followed by two Toyota Hilux vehicles during trials at Iceland


1958 saw the first expedition to the South Pole by tractor under the leadership of Sir Edmund Hillary who drove a specially-adapted Ferguson TE20 model fitted with tracks.