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One Tech Change May Call For Others

One Tech Change May Call For Others
Adapting to technology can be a learning, costly process

I rode with a farmer last week in the cab of a tractor with at least six display screens. Each one was important. Each one was providing different information. Since the tractor was equipped with auto-steer, he had time to monitor the screens. If something major happened, like running out of seed, alerts went off and screens lit up and he knew it immediately.

This planter was equipped with a new electric-driven row cleaner system that allows you to control row cleaner running depth from the cab. Other devices that require electric power were also added this season.

More electric power: Switching out an alternator with a new one of the same size helped the tractor operate smoothly even with more demands on its electrical system after precision options were added.

The bottom line was that all these electronic devices were stressing the electrical system of the tractor. The night before all that tech overloaded it, but no data was lost. While I was in the field a repairman came and replaced the alternator, even though it was a relatively new tractor.

Last year I ran into two situations where farmers switched from finger-pick-up planters to air vacuum planters by planter conversion. But the extra hydraulic demand on older tractors caused issues. In one case the farmer made adjustments. In the other case he switched to a newer tractor with more hydraulic capacity.

The point is that as companies develop precision options that allow planters to do more, you need to keep in mind what it takes to run those options, and how the system will fit together. Making one change may have unintended consequences.

I am reminded of the time a friend finally changed a belt on an old Bolens garden tractor that was well-worn. Within a month another part driven by the belt went out. It would have went out before, but the worn belt wasn't stressing it. The new belt demanded more from it, and it couldn't deliver.

The moral of the story: keep in mind positive changes to your equipment may require changes for what drives the new options.

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