Digital tractors and combines too hard to handle

New tractors, combines and other farm equipment are so full of digital bells and whistles, that they’re becoming hard to use and extremley hard to maintain and fix, says Wired:

”Farm auction expert Greg Peterson noted that demand for newer tractors was falling. Tellingly, the price of and demand for older tractors (without all the digital bells and whistles) has picked up. ’There’s an increasing number of farmers placing greater value on acquiring older simpler machines that don’t require a computer to fix.’ ”
New High-Tech Farm Equipment Is a Nightmare for Farmers, (Feb 5, 2015).

Modern skördetröska

Wired puts this in the context of ”open source”. The tractor software is proprietary, which makes it impossible to modify its behavior. So make the software open, the magazine says.
But there are at least two other possible ways to look at increased frustration and falling demand.
Is it rather the design and usability – or lack thereof – that is the problem for a majority? Even if the software was possible to hack, should it really be necessary for a farmer to also be a programmer?
Could it also be that the digital ”bells and whistles” – even if they’re hackable – hasn’t been worth the money? Is the return on investment simply to small; hence the demand for simpler, more robust technology?

Anyway, this is another reminder that the digitla workplace is not just a white-collar issue: just about any profession is about to become more and more digital.

Photo: Lee Cannon: Delaware State Fair/flickr under cc-license

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