Time for an upgrade
Nov 12, 2008
Chore time for me isn't what it used to be when I was growing up on our eastern Iowa farm, but taking care of two horses in the morning before I head in for work gives me a little time to think about the day ahead. Each morning, stop at this spot to get a feeling for the "tone of the day" - and some attitude about agriculture and the markets.
I was thinking…
... about system upgrades. Once a decade, or so, I try to go through a complete system upgrade in my office. New computer, new software, improved operating systems, etc.... Oh... and that's about how often I get a new truck and try to clean my office, too -- you know, just to freshen things up.
Well, I'm in the middle of a system upgrade right now and it got me thinking about other industries that rely heavily on computer technology -- like I do when I use desktop publishing to produce Pro Farmer newsletter every week. One of the reasons I've been hesitant to "catch up" with the rest of the world regarding computer technology is because what I had worked, and worked well. I just figured as soon as an upgrade is put in place, I'll get caught in an endless "upgrade spiral" that would mean I'd constantly have to be learning new commands and key strokes to get the same job done.
The problem with this strategy is very basic -- when I do finally accept an upgrade, it's almost like having to learn a whole new language overnight rather than picking up new processes slowly and over time. (I was the guy that crammed all night for an exam when I was in college, too.)
What's that got to do with farming? Every now and then, I get a chance to lead a few analysts interested in farming -- but living deep in the heart of Urbanville -- on farm tours around our home base. When they see the amount of technology involved in farming... even on a single tractor, needless to mention a combine... they are amazed by the high-tech status of today's farmers. And when they learn these systems require upgrades at least once a year to keep up with the latest available, they're shocked.
Those that have jumped head-long into the available technology can easily list off the advantages they've gained from the technology... they range from being more productive and better-able to take advantage of narrow time windows in a spring like we had in 2008; to better control of input costs in an environment where most growers have simply accepted the cost increases as a "fact of the markets."
It's those stories from growers making excellent use of the technology available to them that convinced me it's time for a system upgrade. They also convinced me I'm missing an opportunity to increase my productivity and to control my costs by not investing in the available technology.
So... what's the best (or worst) story you've got about new technology on your farm?
(Oh... and I even got my office cleaned up!)