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Events, technology and a soft market

You may be getting tired of my blogs from farm shows and while I am heading to Ohio Farm Science Review I will strive to offer a little different perspective this time around. But first a little about this week.

I have never been to Ohio Farm Science Review, which may surprise many, but my travel schedule hasn't usually allowed it. And frankly I'm only going in for a day to help out the editor of Ohio Farmer with some booth duty. Yet I do plan to check out a couple of things including a Xerion tractor at work in the tillage demos, and a conversation with someone about that new Fendt 500 Vario tractor that will be at the show.

I will post some of the Xerion tractor video on our Facebook page. When I get it shot.

Yet what is the value of a farm show when sales are soft and you're looking at low prices for at least the foreseeable future? Of course, the entertainment factor cannot be overlooked and even the largest farmer likes to see what's new.

My take on the interest in shows is that you want to get information in a neutral location that you may act on for your farm. Running one brand of equipment but something new with a different brand has come out that may work for your farm? You can check it out at the show and the neighbors won't see your truck at the competitive dealership.

New technology is both a challenge and an opportunity. And finding someone to talk to about what's happening with Farmer Business Network or Farmlogs or Raven or Trimble (I could go on but I won't) is not always easy from the farm.

Yet seeing these new tools in person with someone available to answer questions and give you some real live demonstration experience, well it's as valuable as watching combines harvest corn. This market is moving fast and adopting technology to make you more efficient make sense.

Here are four tips for catching up and keeping up with agriculture technology that I've picked up over the last few years:

The demo matters. Spending time with an expert on a high tech product can really help you learn if it will be right for your business. Think about real world challenges on your farm and quiz the company person working the booth with that information.

Know your stuff. Demonstrators are better able to match their product to your needs if you can answer a few questions, and that goes beyond model number since your machine may, or may not, have technology connectivity depending on the model.

Don't fear the call back. Sometimes at a show you may be reluctant to give out contact info for fear the will never leave you alone (those last four words could be read in slow motion with a deep voice, because sometimes that show it feels). Yet they can come to your farm, when you're ready, and walk through how their tech will apply to your business. Sure, a 10 minute demonstration can offer some insight, but that hour or two on your farm later is where the payoff happens.

Look ahead. With any technology you need to think about what you'll be doing five years ahead, since the course of action you take will control other tech decisions in the future. Choosing a technology path is kind of like a marriage, and if you break up, divorce could be messy.

Some of this may be common sense, but sometimes putting it in writing helps crystallize a management path for your business.

If you've picked up information from one of the fall shows, a followup call to those companies you found most interesting may be in order. Happy hunting.

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