By the 1970s, Toft Bros. was one of the major manufacturers of cane harvesters in the world and Bundaberg, Queensland, was 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 reclaimed by Australian interest in 1986 and rebranded Austoft.In 1996 Case IH came on board when it acquired Austoft. The following year, the machines transitioned to the iconic red livery of the Case IH brand.
The Bundaberg Austoft plant was closed in 2004 and operations moved to Piracicaba in Brazil due to the rapid mass-scale mechanisation of the Brazilian sugar industry. Despite the move to Brazil, the Austoft name remained the same.Today, Austoft sugarcane harvesters cut around half a billion metric tons of sugarcane per year across the globe, from India and China to Sudan, Papua New Guinea and throughout South America, South East Asia and Australia.
Craig Jorgensen, Case IH Global Marketing Manager – Sugarcane Harvesters said; “Sugarcane has experienced a very rapid transition. In the 1970s there was only a small handful of countries that were mechanised, and now, in a period of less than 20 years, Brazil, using Austoft machines, has gone from less than 10 percent mechanisation to more than 98 percent mechanisation.“The Austoft 7000 Series sugarcane harvester that was developed in Australia in the 1980s revolutionised sugarcane harvesting around the world. The Austoft 8010 and 8810 models that we build today include hundreds of innovations and enhancements that add up to much higher productivity,” Jorgensen said.
Kenneth Schmidt, Product Performance Manager – Austoft, has been working with the company since the 1970s, meeting sugarcane farmers around the world and witnessing many product developments during that time.“2019 is a special year for Austoft. It’s amazing that a small company, started by three brothers in Bundaberg Australia, has grown into a worldwide company which improves growing and harvesting sugarcane for people all around the world, and it’s been a great privilege for me to be part of that journey. With 75 years of expertise in the field of mechanised sugarcane harvesting, the Austoft is an iconic piece of machinery and we’re proud to have it in our range,” Schmidt said.