Standing in a farmer's barn lot recently, looking at his fleet of tractors, it was obvious that most of them were a 2000 model or newer. In years past, some ag economists said that the tractor was the one tool that you could hang on to, because a 25- to 30-year-old tractor that was well-maintained could still do the job of a new tractor.
This farmer in the barn lot takes exception with that premise in today's world. He says it's not so much the power requirements to pull big implements that's changing the dynamic. Instead, it's the need to power more hydraulics for everything from planting to auto-guidance, plus the need for upgraded electrical capacity to power various electric systems, many of them tied to the planter, that makes it a different world today.
In other words, you may need to trade up to get technology, primarily hydraulic and electrical capacity, more than to get horsepower, which was often a driver for trading in the past.
The trend toward implements that use more hydraulics and more electrical components seems to be only increasing in intensity. Kinze has announced a planter with electric drive units from the factory for 2016.
You can buy electric drive units for retrofitting your planter now. Precision planting offers hydraulic down pressure systems that let each row act independently when it comes to how much downforce it needs.
All these improvements come with a cost. The cost is increased need for hydraulics and electrical capacity.
The farmer even noted that a 10 year old tractor in his fleet, purchased with the biggest hydraulic capacity option available at the time, is barely able to do what he needs to do with it today. He also noted that 35-year-old tractors, while still in good condition, are basically relegated to running PTO implements or other jobs that don't require a lot of hydraulic capacity.
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