High-tech tractors [UPDATED]Published 11:00am Monday, October 22, 2012 Updated 11:00am Monday, October 22, 2012
Farming may be an old profession, but that doesn’t mean farmers have to use old tools. Farm implement dealers Titan Machinery and RDO Equipment have a variety of products that showcase just how technological farming can be.
One piece of technology Titan store manager Mark Moxness described as a “huge hit” is an improved form of autosteer found in many of Titan’s combines. While the old form of autosteer allowed combines or tractors to drive straight, Titan sells combines that have sensor technology built into the head of the combine, allowing for the combine to automatically steer itself down a row.
“It reduces fatigue,” said Moxness. “It lets (farmers) run the combine rather than steer.”
By allowing farmers to spend more time managing the combine’s operation rather than direction, the combine technology can help improve efficiency and make the whole process easier, particularly for farmers who are getting older and who can’t take as much physical exertion.
RDO Sales Manager Michael Makovsky focused primarily on the computerization of farming, particularly many of the features offered under John Deere’s FarmSight plan. Farmers who have the plan can manage much of their farming digitally and even allow remote equipment access to businesses like RDO, which can then diagnose and help fix problems faster.
“We’re going to be watching your equipment,” said Makovsky. “When there is a failure of some sort, we will be notified.”
In years of bad weather, sometimes even an hour delay can make all the difference for a farmer. A remote monitoring system can help a farmer’s equipment get fixed faster, allowing him to return to work sooner.
Many John Deere products also come with JDLink, a service that funnels valuable farming information to a farmer’s computer. The information gleaned by JDLink can help farmers make decisions about spraying, fertilizer and many other critical issues.
“One of our (goals) is building customers for life and truly partnering with customers to help them become better so that we can become better,” said Makovsky.
Another emerging technology RDO may be involved in is remote irrigation. Makovsky said that while the technology hasn’t caught on yet in West Central Minnesota, the potential exists for farmers to remotely monitor how much water a field needs and then to digitally begin irrigation accordingly.
“It’s something that is going to be coming here in the very near future,” he said.
Moxness was perhaps most excited about a product he expects to arrive at Titan in time for 2013’s farming season: a new Rowtrac tractor with articulated four-wheel drive.
“It’s a four-wheel drive tractor made to go down narrow rows,” said Moxness, explaining that old tractors had to be much larger to pull big combines, resulting in soil compaction that made it harder to grow crops.
The old tractors also had wheels, as opposed to the Rowtrac’s track, which puts much less pressure on the ground. The articulated four-wheel drive also allows for better turning and no big bumps at the ends of fields.
Moxness believes farmers are smart about their businesses and able to pick out when technology can be of use.
“There’re still some guys who don’t want to change … but I would say as a rule it’s very well accepted,” he said.