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Tech, tools and the future

National Farm Machinery Show national-farm-machinery-show-crowd
CATCHING UP: The crowd at the National Farm Machinery Show has access to a wide range of new tools and information; and for 2017 the emphasis was mainly on technology.
Farm show time is quality time on a lot of levels.

high, but all good things come to an end. As the show wrapped up, I stared to ponder what I was seeing and plenty of screens is the answer. Tech is invading every part of the industry in a wide variety of ways.

For example, at Martin Industries, there's been a kind of running joke. I would walk buy and ask if there was something new, and the answer was usually 'no.' Not this year, the company showed off a range of new products - perhaps the most in a few years - and of course the biggest to catch your eye was the blue-tooth controlled applicator.

The shiny screen is an attention getter. In the case of Martin it's the company's new SmartClean control that manages the Clean Sweap Cylinders to set planter air bag down pressure. The Bluetooth controller and program runs on a tablet. Farmers want that added precision.

That's just one example, but we saw quite a few, including tools from Yetter and a new app from John Deere. The cost of sensors is falling and the ability to monitor and control a range of processes is falling too. For you that means having more information available or better control than ever, but of course that means moving to newer equipment. While some of these tools are add-ons to existing equipment, chances are they require an upgrade.

But that's the way of the tech world. You get comfortable with a machine or a piece of technology and a newer, faster, better one comes along. Time to upgrade? Well perhaps not so fast. That's the balancing act every farmer will face in the next decade as new, more powerful technology tools come forward.

Attitudes in the crowd

It's so hard to read a crowd at a farm show. The mood seemed good, but short of instant polling how do you know? Interestingly I had a few exhibitors share, unsolicited, that they thought the mood among interested farmers was better than last year. Of course, that wasn't translating into sales yet, but it could.

Perhaps having a bin full of corn (or in fact several bins of corn and soybeans) in storage makes you feel good even with soft prices. Hard to say, but any news that the mood could be improving is good news.

We'll keep watching. 2017 looks to be an interesting year, but perhaps it's also a corner-turning year.

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