In the Shop
As a farm machinery mechanic and writer, Dan brings a hands-on approach that only a pro can muster. Along with his In the Shop blog, Dan writes a column by the same name as well as the Shop Series for Farm Journal magazine. Always providing practical information, he is a master at tackling technical topics and making them easy for all of our readers to understand. He and his wife, Becky, live near Bouton, Iowa.
Technology Causes Harvest Problems
Oct 12, 2013
Yield monitors, autosteer, cell phones, iPads and all the other gadgets riding with farmers in cabs this harvest are wonderful and in some cases actually improve productivity and profits. But there is a downside that we all recognize but hate to admit.
For example, if we were really honest, how many combines have been plugged, slugged or damaged so far this harvest when the operator was either distracted while talking on his cell phone, or lulled into inattention by autosteer? I am amazed at the number of times when I'm riding in a cab, confirming repairs I made, and seen the operater completely ignore driving the machine while he answered his cell phone, tapped on an iPad, played with the yield monitor or ate lunch. One guy was running a 40-foot soybean platform at 5 miles an hour, and I eventually mentally counted "one-thousand-one, one thousand-two..." and verified he was completely ignoring the combine for up to 35 seconds at a time while he tinkered with an iPad. Had the autosteer system not had an audible warning system that caught his attentiion when we reached the endrows, he would have harvested 20 acres of his neighbor's field before he came back to reality.
We'll never know how many thousands of dollars cell phones and other gadgets cost farmers this fall. Few are willing to admit that TD (technological distraction) was the reason they put an unloading auger into a power pole or ran a football-sized rock into their grain head. Things have certainly changed from the time a farmer once had me remove the aftermarket AM/FM radio from the used combine he bought, because, "I don't want nothing in that cab that will distract me from what I'm doing."