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Looking Back, and Ahead at Ag Equipment

Looking Back, and Ahead at Ag Equipment
Conferences and shows help us keep up, though they take time too.

Here's a short apology loyal reader - sorry. Conferences and shows and duties have limited my ability to blog lately and I'll work to get back on track in the coming weeks. From winter meetings to big events an ag journalist's time can be in short supply, yet there are pages to fill and websites to populate. All to help keep you informed.

The past few weeks have been interesting. The National Farm Machinery Show was filled with plenty of new products and information. From faster planters (which I've shared) to expanding tech in all areas of the business, there's news. Just what does it mean?

A COMMON SITE: You'd be hard-pressed to find a machine without a monitor of some kind in the cab these days. And they serve plenty of functions.

When I started writing about farm equipment back in the early 1980s the focus was strictly on performance - horsepower and torque rise and the basics for tractors, for combines it was bin capacity and acres per hour. Those features are still important today, but now you have to worry about whether or not the tractor and the baler can "interface."

In the early days of this new electronic age of equipment I sat through a presentation from a major company. The challenge was equipment "failures" for electronic parts. Turns out dealers would see an electronics problem and their best answer was to "pull the box" and replace it, then send the part in for warranty. The irony back then was that those "pulled" parts when put on a test bench turned out to be just fine. Those early days of low diagnostic information and the need to get you in the field created all kinds of interesting challenges.

Today the diagnostic part of electronics is better than ever. The dealer - even on your farm - can plug into a machine and pull codes and information to help diagnose trouble. That's possible with later model machines that have a CANBus architecture. That machine network has more sensors that gather information and can share more than ever before.

Of course, the added wrinkle this year is that those same sensors can share that information over a data network into a cloud where you, or your dealer (if you give permission) can access it and help you run more efficiently. Tracking where machines are, the fuel use and more can really help. Of course you have to be aware of your rights for your information, but there are still benefits of sharing.

Its' a new year, and while the upper Midwest doesn't feel like planters will roll anytime soon, we know that as winter meeting season winds down (I write this from San Antonio where Commodity Classic is about to start) that can only mean one thing - corn planting will start soon. We can only hope.

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