A tractor refresher course, just in time for harvest

Story and photos by Staff Sgt. Sidney Hoffmann, ADT 5 Unit Public Affairs/Historian Representative

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Staff Sgt. Matthew Nicholson with Kentucky’s Agribusiness Development Team 5 instructs local farmers on the operation of a tractor at the Zharay District Education Center in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan, June, 2013. The instruction was a refresher course from previous lessons given by ADT 4 in 2012.(U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Sidney Hoffmann)

FORWARD OPERATING BASE PASAB, Afghanistan — The Kentucky Agribusiness Development Team 5 has worked diligently in maintaining working relationships with the surrounding areas of interest.  The Zharay District Education Center or ZDEC is one of our closest ongoing projects.  On this particular day, Tech. Sgt. Nathan Steele and 1st Lt. Ben Maillet recruited the assistance of our mechanics to come demonstrate a refresher course on how to use tractors for harvesting.

The Changchai is called a “walker” or “walk behind” tractor that has attachments serving different purposes.  Since it is the season for harvesting their wheat, it is important the local farmers are comfortable working the equipment.  Staff Sgt. Matthew Nicholson and Sgt. Johnathan Jones combined their skills to demonstrate how to start the tractor as well has how to safely operate the equipment and use of the gears while in motion.

“It was nice to use my abilities outside of the unit’s needs to assist the agribusiness team and actively contribute to the local farmers’ success,” said Nicholson, ADT 5’s motor sergeant.

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Staff Sgt. Matthew Nicholson (left) and Sgt. Jonathan Jones, both with Kentucky’s Agribusiness Development Team 5 test the gear of a walk-behind tractor during a refresher course for local farmers in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan, June, 2013. The Soldiers enjoyed the opportunity to put their personal skills from home at work on deployment. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Sidney Hoffmann)

“At home, I really enjoy riding my tractor on the farm,” said Jones.  “I never thought I would get to use my personal skills to aid this mission.  It’s nice to have the chance to operate outside of my normal duties within the security forces and contribute to the agribusiness team.”

This mission is a continuation of the tractor safety training conducted with the ZDEC last year when ADT 4 was managing this location.

Click here for the ADT 4 story.

“We noticed the ZDEC workers were not utilizing all of the equipment available to maximize the amount harvested in a shorter period of time,” said Steele.  “For example, it takes 2 or 3 weeks to harvest the wheat they currently have by hand, but if they were to use the Changchai, they could quite possibly complete the harvesting in one or two days. The intent is to ensure they know what the equipment can do for them.”

As ADT 5’s support is coming to a close, it is important to the team to  leave behind a positive imprint and encourage the locals to continue to maximize their exporting abilities as well as build up the relationship between themselves and the Afghanistan government.

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