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CLAYTON RYE

By Staff | Aug 6, 2010

Last week I attended a media event that was held by a well-known manufacturer of farm equipment. “Who,” you might ask, “is the well-known farm equipment manufacturer?”

Let us say it was not the well-known green manufacturer, nor was it the well-known red manufacturer.

The next thing I want to say is “Hey, look at me. I am a member of the media.” I am still the over-aged farm kid who spends most days in jeans, work shirt, suspenders, and work shoes unless it is Sunday morning when I am sitting in church.

Since, for those few hours, I was a member of the media I thought I better look the part so I packed up my church clothes and headed for the meeting in St Paul, Minn.

The purpose of the meeting was to show the latest and greatest in the company’s offerings of tractors, combines, implements and application of fertilizer and herbicide equipment.

It was impressive to see all that shiny paint accentuated by gleaming black tires spread out on a floor the size of a gymnasium.

There may be a day I will own farm equipment like that but only if I live that long and only after one or two people have owned it ahead of me.

By the time it gets to me, the shine is gone off the paint, the tires are at half tread, there will be a few scratches, but I will get what remaining life is left out of that piece of equipment.

The meeting opened with a presentation by a senior member of management who told of what the company had done so far in developing new equipment with an occasional glimpse into the future of things that were still in development.

There was no mistaking his optimism with the product line they had that day for our inspection and the pictures we saw of things that were being given serious thought for the future.

Since this company is worldwide in scope, it is using the talent of its engineering and manufacturing to combine components from different parts of the world to assemble equipment using the best ideas from several countries.

He covered a lot of ground both on a global basis and on an equipment basis as he introduced us to what the company sees as its future. It was a few sentences when he was explaining to us what they were doing in Brazil that almost made me want to stop the meeting and say, “Did I hear what I know I just heard?”

The speaker, who was a senior vice president of worldwide engineering, said that in Brazil they are working on a tractor that starts on diesel fuel and runs on ethanol. Every farmer my age and every fan of an antique tractor regardless of age are saying, “What?”

We are remembering the early Farmall diesels that started on gas and then switched to diesel. These engineers are doing it backwards, aren’t they?

This is where I wanted to bring the meeting to a complete stop so I could ask a few hundred questions, but I sat on my hands while my mind went into a spin.

The man with the presentation said it would take 1.6 gallons of ethanol to replace a gallon of diesel because of ethanol’s lower energy content. So where is the advantage?

Maybe he sees a world where diesel fuel is expensive and ethanol is cheap enough that it can economically replace diesel fuel. As a corn grower, I see a bigger market for ethanol and that is fine with me.

After listening to the senior engineer’s presentation, I have no doubt that there are talented, creative people in the farm equipment industry who are looking at all kinds of new ideas and occasionally going back to an old idea for further examination.

The mechanization of agriculture along with the increasing productivity that has been going on for many years is not over. There is more on the way.

Remember, you heard it from a member of the media. Stop looking at my suspenders.

Rye is a Farm News staff writer and farmer from Hanlontown. Reach him by e-mail at crye@wctatel.net.

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