AgNerds: Are Farmers Being Sold More Tech Than They Need?

Agnerds New Logo To justify purchasing a new piece of technology for a farm, its value can’t be based on the “wow factor.” It must solve a problem and improve the overall efficiency of the operation.

With that in mind, are farmers being sold more technology than they need? Should a producer have to pay for the cost of all the bells and whistles on a new unit if they’re only going to use its base features?

The idea that farmers are being sold technology to solve problems they don’t have was an underlying theme during the TechTour panel discussions on the recent TechTour LIVE in Western Canada.

As part of this AgNerds episode, Shaun Haney and Peter Gredig (who joined Shaun and Debra for the entire tour) discuss how technology assessment is becoming an essential skill for farmers and whether more technology providers should offer an “a la carte” method for customizing features, whether it’s on new tractors, software, sensor systems or other tools that are supposed to improve on-farm efficiency.

Watch past AgNerds episodes!

What do you think? How do you decide whether to purchase new technology for your farm? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section.

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4 thoughts on “AgNerds: Are Farmers Being Sold More Tech Than They Need?

  1. Not ordering a piece of farm machinery fully optioned with the electronic suit would very negatively affect the resale value. It’s much more expensive to add that stuff after.

    Our biggest issue is of course support. When it goes wrong, we are waiting on the one service tech that each dealer has that can actually work on the stuff. CNH is most problematic because they force you to use the dealer interface tool. Agco is nearly as bad and JD is much better. Nobody has enough staff, so i prefer to work on it myself before sending it in.

    The stuff should however be easier to use. I’ve used deere, trimble, and raven and not one is as easy as it should be. Running farm machinery should not require a fighter pilots level of training, but right now it very nearly does.

  2. Interesting discussion with good insight for sure. Also the comments from Joe above are very good. Was interested in Shaun’s take that farmers don’t make a business case for buying new technology. To me there is nothing new about this in that its always the agricultural economics that determines whether technology is worth it or not. Evaluating it before purchase to see if the economics work is the first thing that’s done. Interesting piece in Wired Magazine about this. I’ve quoted from it in this piece.
    http://philipshaw.ca/2015/02/23/the-data-isnt-mine-but-the-tractor-is-welcome-to-my-nightmare/

  3. A very interesting topic for sure. I would have to say that we have embraced most of the new technology especially the GPS. That is the best thing since sliced bread. But it can go too far, especially with VRT (Variable Rate Technology in your Air Seeder. Until they figure out how to make it bullet proof, I will stick to applying more fertilizer either commercial or cattle and hog manure. Works for me. Just give me a simple system of knobs and levers. It would be nice to turn something on and have it work without having to struggle through 600 pages of martian hieroglyphics and patiently wait for a tech guy who is stumped as well.

  4. I held back from commenting right away because I didn’t want to be the only one to go down this path of thought.

    There is a part of this discussion missing, at least from my perspective. This likely has to do with my age and blessed with the being here to look back in time but also very actively involved in developing and promoting technology for the farm that looks forward in time.

    So I have this vision of what the future might be like for farmers and everyone who serves them if we keep going in the direction we are and at the velocity that we are.

    I am concerned with the profitability factor however my real concern with the growth in technologies for the farm goes far beyond the profitability discussion.

    What I see is technology replacing people in this industry and at an alarming rate.

    The results of this elimination of people are many but the consequences include dead and dying rural towns.. There are a whole bunch of dead towns across north America that just haven’t started to smell yet and this is as a result of machines and technologies that replaced people.

    The Terminator movie’s might be science fiction – but if your town is dying and your job in this industry has been replaced by entities consisting of metal and plastic and electrons, you are already terminated.

    I’m only 65 but I did help to farm with horses and now I am working with implements that control themselves and watching robotic crabs do the work that people once did. Science fiction seems pretty real to me.

    I have to think that there is another better way… at least if you are human.

    best regards
    Jim

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