Farmers Are Turning Back The Technology Clock.

Modern farming is packed full of technology. Computer-controlled equipment, GPS guided harvesting, and cradle to grave automation help modern farmers be more productive. The downside to this is an ongoing fight with manufacturers over who owns the information.

Farmers were not included when automotive enthusiasts fought to be able to repair and work on their own vehicles. Manufacturers want to be software companies. They don’t want to own your vehicle’s technology. Auto enthusiasts were given an exemption to the DMCA takedown rule.

Farmers are currently screwed.

Under the current guidelines, farmers are not allowed to work on their own equipment. John Deere is one of the most aggressive companies when it comes to their programming protections. Any maintenance or repairs done to a modern John Deere tractor requires a dealer with a computer and proprietary software to fix the issue. This turns into thousands of dollars in lost time, and payment for the service anytime equipment goes down.

Farmers are fighting back in the most Americal way.

According to the Star Tribune, pre-1990 tractors have been selling for higher prices at auction, and demand for the older tractors has been increasing. The Star Tribune story gives some pretty clear reasons why:

Kris Folland grows corn, wheat and soybeans and raises cattle on 2,000 acres near Halma in the northwest corner of Minnesota, so his operation is far from small. But when he last bought a new tractor, he opted for an old one — a 1979 John Deere 4440.

He retrofitted it with automatic steering guided by satellite, and he and his kids can use the tractor to feed cows, plant fields and run a grain auger. The best thing? The tractor cost $18,000, compared to upward of $150,000 for a new tractor. And Folland doesn’t need a computer to repair it.

The tractors have enough horsepower to do anything most farmers need, and even at a record price like the $61,000 the tractor in Bingham Lake fetched, they’re a bargain compared to what a farmer would pay for a newer tractor with similar horsepower.

The other big draw of the older tractors is their lack of complex technology. Farmers prefer to fix what they can on the spot, or take it to their mechanic and not have to spend tens of thousands of dollars.

“The newer machines, any time something breaks, you’ve got to have a computer to fix it,” Stock said.

Star Tribune
I love this.

Farmers are noted for their ingenuity and trying to save every last penny. In this case, their cause is justified. To be told not only can you not work on your tractor but you also have to pay the manufacturer to repair it is a bull.

Tractors from the 1970s and 1980s aren’t so dramatically different from tractors produced in the 2000s, other than the irksome software, and at a time when farmers are struggling financially, older tractors can make a lot of business sense.

Folland said his corn crop was better than the Minnesota average in 2019, despite the fact that he farms on the Canadian border and uses 40-year-old equipment.

“The main reason we do this is to make money,” Folland said. “Older equipment is a way to reduce your cost per bushel to become more profitable.”

Star tribune
Do you drive older vehicles for this reason?

Chime in if you drive an older vehicle to avoid the modern pitfalls of extra computers that you can’t modify?

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