I ran across an article this morning about the booming market for low-tech tractors. Farmers are buying up old tractors at auction because the older tractors are cheaper to buy, cheaper to operate, and cheaper to repair.
The article opens with the story of Kris Folland, a Minnesota farmer who bought a 1979 John Deere tractor. The article says he “retrofitted it with automatic steering guided by satellite.” That’s the part of the article I wanted to comment on.
If you suggest that anything new isn’t better, someone will label you a Luddite. But Folland is not a not Luddite. He wants satellite technology, though he also wants a machine he can repair himself. He didn’t buy a 1979 tractor out of nostalgia. He bought it because it was an order of magnitude cheaper to own and operate.
3 thoughts on “Technology à la carte”
I just bought a 2 year old minivan with all kinds of nice electronics. I hope we can drive it for a long time, but I can only imagine what repairs are going to cost when electronics start to fail.
I came across an old-ish (2017) article about this only recently. Apparently the new technology here mandates all sorts of lock-ins (restrictions on how and where you can get your tractor repaired). Beyond a market for old tractors, this has also led to a black market in tractor firmware:
Thanks for this post John! Rings a bell on why I love my Macbook Pro Early 2011 model still!
For very cheap cost, I can swap in a SDD, Upgrade the RAM and open clean occasionally. It heats up a little more nowadays but I typically work a wireless keyboard mouse and HDMI … so it doesn’t bother me. The USB ports are great. The SD Card slot works perfectly with my camera disk. And, yeah the DVD Drive comes in occasionally handy.
For my computing needs, I have an automated *EC2 Spot* instance setup. That costs me ~ $20 p.m. and works better than anything out there in the market! I use a cloud ide with some custom hacks and it almost works as good as local development work!
My Pro actually does the job too but I like to keep things on my *personal cloud* and access anywhere.
I use my sleeker and way more expensive Macs and iPads primarily to watch Netflix and browse the net at a local pub ;-)