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Bridge the Generation Gap in FarmingBridge the Generation Gap in Farming

Youngest generation on the farm farming doesn't know what old days were like.

Tom Bechman 1

October 17, 2013

2 Min Read

If you're younger than 25 and farming today, you probably can't remember back when yield monitors didn't exist, especially if you and your family are aggressive at using technology. You grew up with terms like GPS and RTK and even auto-steering.

Dads and granddads often have a different perspective, because most of them remember the days when cleaning out a combine plugged with green grass or green soybean stems was much different than reversing the feederhouse with a flip of the switch. It often meant up to an hour of pulling and digging to free the clog by hand. And before weed control improved, sometimes it was foxtail that was the culprit.


"Lance saw me adjusting the sieves on my 2002 model combine that I run sometimes the other day and wondered what I was doing" says Del Unger, Carlisle. "I was standing on the ground beside the combine, standing upright, making the adjustment."

"Can't you just push a button in the cab?" his son asked. Running the newer machine, that's all Lance has to do to make changes in important settings. Then monitors typically show how those settings are working out.

"He would have been lost when I first started farming," Del says. "That was back in dad's hey days." His father, Howard, is retired but still runs errands occasionally.

"If you wanted to change the sieve you got on your back and crawled under the machine and went through an awkward procedure, likely getting dirt all over you in the process," he says. "There certainly weren't any buttons to push back then."

Del appreciates the new technology, but he is also fond of the old, and remembers cutting his teeth driving a D-17 Allis Chalmers tractor. "It seemed big pulling a four-bottom plow at the time," he recalls.

"One thing about it, though. Many farmers like my dad made a lot of money in their day farming with those machines. They weren't big and they weren't always the easiest to use, but they got the job done and helped farmers make a living."

About the Author(s)

Tom Bechman 1

Editor, Indiana Prairie Farm

Tom Bechman is an important cog in the Farm Progress machinery. In addition to serving as editor of Indiana Prairie Farmer, Tom is nationally known for his coverage of Midwest agronomy, conservation, no-till farming, farm management, farm safety, high-tech farming and personal property tax relief. His byline appears monthly in many of the 18 state and regional farm magazines published by Farm Progress.

"I consider it my responsibility and opportunity as a farm magazine editor to supply useful information that will help today's farm families survive and thrive," the veteran editor says.

Tom graduated from Whiteland (Ind.) High School, earned his B.S. in animal science and agricultural education from Purdue University in 1975 and an M.S. in dairy nutrition two years later. He first joined the magazine as a field editor in 1981 after four years as a vocational agriculture teacher.

Tom enjoys interacting with farm families, university specialists and industry leaders, gathering and sifting through loads of information available in agriculture today. "Whenever I find a new idea or a new thought that could either improve someone's life or their income, I consider it a personal challenge to discover how to present it in the most useful form, " he says.

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