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Farm Tractors Ain't What They Used To Be

It's tough to overcome 'old farmer' distain of new tractor tech. But all you have to do is climb into the saddle. . . ah . . . seat.

First, my confession: Since wrestling with the wheel of an old red and gray 8N years ago, I haven't been overly fond of blue tractors. But this summer, New Holland gave Farm Progress Editorial Director Willie Vogt and me an exclusive under-the-hood and behind the wheel look at its shiny new Genesis T8 tractor.

The 419-hp "baby" was a far cry from "old blue". With mind-spinning conveniences, alone, it soundly whipped the six-horse team pulling iron in a field nearby. Even that team of live horsepower would have trouble making this tractor's 55-degree headland turn.

While the steel horse didn't respond to "gee", "haw" or even "whoa", it wouldn't surprise me if tractors will learn such voice commands in the very near future – and respond much faster than horses and certainly humans.

Once you set your integrated auto-guidance, you can drive hands-free and focus on monitoring touch screens on other functions. If all's cool, kick back and do your phone business or check emails by smartphone. Multi-tasking is a for-profit virtue, you know.

The cockpit's Auto Command CVT will program targeted ground speeds and automatically adjust engine power as needed. You can even adjust your speed on-the-fly – from zero to 31 mph with a flick of the thumbwheel.

Rationalize the value of extra benefits

And don't forget the value of creature comforts. I'm not talking about a buddy seat for "Barky". But yes, today's tractor cabs have plenty of room for them – whether they're your best friend or your spouse (hopefully the same).

If you're going to spend more tractor time working, you just as well do it in comfort and minimize your sun exposure. It doesn't take much rationalization to calculate a sizable value in protecting yourself from skin cancer. That's how I convinced my wife that my first snow blower was a wise health and safety investment.

If your old farmer preferences for that old, rusty 4020 or 806 are still kicking in, accept my challenge: Power up a ride-and-drive experience at an upcoming field day. I'm betting that your local dealer might unlock the cab for you, too.

Take my challenge. It'll spoil you. Now, all you have to do is convince your banker.

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