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In the Shop

RSS By: Dan Anderson, Farm Journal

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.

What Would You Do WIthout?

Jul 18, 2009
 Customers sometimes complain about the cost of modern farm equipment. I've had customers state, "If somebody would build a 200-horsepower 4020 (or 806, or 190XT) without all the bells and whistles, just a plain ol' tractor, they'd sell a million of them."

Would they? Which of the "bells and whistles" would YOU do without? Do you want to go without a cab? That would save more than $10,000. Maybe you want a cab, but don't care if it's quiet. You could save a couple thousand dollars by having a bare metal cab with mechanical linkages for gearshifts, hydraulic controls and steering--but you wouldn't be able to hear the radio because of all the mechanical noise transmitted into the cab by all those 'hard-wired' controls.

Speaking of the radio, would you give up the AM/FM/CD player with weather band radio? A simple AM radio would only cost $50, compared to the cost of the acoustic marvels in the headliners of most modern farm equipment cabs. While we're considering cab accessories, it would save several thousand dollars to use a simple coil-spring-and-shock-absorber seat suspension instead of the electro-hydraulic or air seat suspension used in many cabs today. Vinyl seat covers would be cheaper than stain-resistant cloth or leather seats, too.

Think how much money could be saved by not including GPS guidance/autosteer in farm equipment. No satellite subscriptions, no RTK guidance fees. No GPS receiver globes to replace due to getting smashed by tree limbs or low-clearance machine shed doorways. In combines, it would save $10,000 or more to do without a yield monitor, especially if the system is set up to do yield mapping.

So, if a manufacturer offered an open-station 2WD tractor with 200 hp, or an open-station 4WD with 300 hp, would you buy it? Nothing but tires, heavy duty transmission and an engine, with a steering wheel to guide it. No extra bells and whistles. How 'bout a bare-bones combine, something that would handle a 30-foot small grain platform or 8-row cornhead, but without cab, without AM/FM, without yield monitor, without all the electronic gizmos like automatic header height control, feed-rate sensing, automatic sieve adjusting, etc., etc.?

How much would you be willing to do without to save a few dollars on your next tractor, combine or self-propelled machine? 

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COMMENTS (4 Comments)

how about two tractors with no cabs?
10:47 PM Jul 30th
Considering the vast majority of producers don't buy new equipment and many are utilzing quality older equipment, a lesser level of creature comforts and technology might be alright. Just look at how many JD 40-60 series and IH 86-original Magnum/Steiger series tractors are getting the job done for American Agriculture. Many of these may have been retrofitted with some GPS capability but I don't know if a lot of these producers are held back because they don't have electric over hydraulic controls or CD players. Many seek out these older machines as they are easier to fix and simpler for hired labor to operate. One 5000 acre operation in our area uses 875 and 835 Versitiles as their primary tillage tractors. Not fancy but they do a good job farming with them.
11:12 AM Jul 24th

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