My role at Penton Agriculture is pretty varied. One of my 'main jobs' is to cover technology and equipment for our family of brands and for 2017 I will attend four major farm shows to help make that happen. This is a highlight of my job since I get to see the latest and greatest new equipment; but also catch up on a range of other technologies in seed and crop protection too.
I bring this up because I recently attended an event for John Deere where the new S700 combines were launched. On the outside there's not a lot different in that combine, but under the hood the technology being deployed for harvest 2018 has the potential to make farmers more productive, and even make "combine amateurs" into pros.
It is technology like this, and John Deere is not the only innovator out there, that makes it imperative that you consider your capital purchase budget for 2017 and beyond. Sure, the iron you have will get the work done, but efficiency and covering more acres is the rule of the day and that's what these newer tools will offer.
For the reader who doesn't consider themselves the innovator, perhaps you're a later adopter in that buying curve, we know you've stepped back from buying new equipment. But how long can you wait?
A changing paradigm?
In the old days, the reason to buy a new machine was about more power to cover more acres. Today the higher power is there as bigger machines proliferate. But you'll also find increasing technology designed to help you farm faster.
Auto-steering has been around for some time, and while we write about it regularly as if it's commonplace, there's a large audience of you readers who have yet to take the plunge beyond perhaps one machine, or two. Chances are, though, this is an area you're considering for your operation due to what your neighbors are saying about acres covered and lack of fatigue.
Making us all experts
But self-steering machines are just the beginning. The idea that a computer in the cab can take measurements from implements (or a machine's innards) and make the operation being performed more efficient, or accurate has value. And that's especially true for farmers who find it harder to find skilled labor.
Sure, you want some knowledge in the cab, but if the machine can do more of the adjustment work for the operator it frees up the farm owner to do more of the heavy mental lifting elsewhere in the operation. And the value of that is harder to estimate, but may become more important for the future.
With the big farm shows ahead – pick your favorite – it's time to have that conversation. The question to ask is "will this new technology make a difference in my operation?" And the answer may not be as outwardly simply to determine as you might think.
We cover technology all the time, add in farm shows and you can keep up on the latest new tools for your farm.