The Western Farm Show has high-tech appeal
By Susan Fotovich McCabe
One look at the exhibit floor of the Feb. 22 to 24 Western Farm Show in Kansas City, and the crowd's enthusiasm is infectious. Young and old are climbing into the cabs of high-tech combines, exploring the modern-day bells and whistles of planters and sprayers, and taking turns at a hands-on test of GPS technology.
Farm equipment is the focus of the Western Farm Show, but the newest technology beckons the curious to explore a little deeper. Harold Chapman, general manager of SouthWestern Association member Crown Power Equipment in Columbia, Mo., says some of his customers have ordered new equipment sight unseen and will be able to get an up close look for the first time at the Western Farm Show.
"This is everyone's chance to climb into the cab, crawl around, and touch and feel all that the equipment has to offer," says Chapman, a Case IH, Kubota and New Holland dealer. "It's the biggest show in the Midwest, but you can always get right up to the equipment, see a rep and ask a question."
Chapman says new farm equipment technology is changing at a rapid pace, providing producers with an array of options and methods for increased efficiency. Some of that technology centers on Advanced Farming Systems for auto-steer, planter and sprayer control. Because of emerging technology, Chapman has two full-time employees dedicated to AFS technology exclusively.
Crown Power Equipment AFS Specialist Scott Willingham says attendees will see a lot of technology at the Western Farm Show and anticipates rising interest in correction-signal technology.
"Section control will always remain strong, but advanced seed monitoring and hydraulic down force on planters has really taken off lately," Willingham says.
Fellow SouthWestern Association member and Case IH dealer Straub International in Great Bend, Kan., says one of the biggest advances in technology attendees will see at the show is SCR Tier IV technology from Case IH. Part of 100-horsepower tractors and combines, this technology improves performance and saves fuel, providing for overall lower operating costs for the farmer's operation, says Owner Ron Straub.
"Case IH reps will be focused on a new cab combine and a Stieger Rowtrac tractor. The all new cab sets a new standard in operator comfort, convenience and productivity in the industry, while the new Rowtrac tractor offers the farmer the first-ever four-track, row-crop-capable tractor, which can greatly improve productivity with today's large planters and strip-till machines," Straub says.
Additional trends include larger, more productive equipment, Straub says. In fact, his dealership has seen an increase in sales for the Case IH Axial Flow combine with 40 to 45-feet draper headers. The draper header is something that didn't even sell eight or nine ago, he said, and now accounts for more than 90 percent of its header sales. Sales of AFS-loaded combines and self-propelled sprayers are also on the rise, Straub said.
Interest in emerging technology is no surprise, says SouthWestern Association CEO Jeff Flora. He says today's technological advances are more than just bells and whistles. They are cost-effective tools for driving productivity and profit.
"What makes our dealers successful is knowing what their customers want. Years of well-developed customer relationships, a full inventory of cutting-edge products and the ability to listen to what farmers need to do their jobs makes a collaborative dealer/producer relationship a success," Flora says.
It's an exciting time to be a dealer and attend the Western Farm Show, according to Chapman. It's also an exciting time for young people in agriculture who may be looking at careers in the field. Thanks to technology, says Chapman, many high-paying jobs are emerging as well.
"This is a good time to be in agriculture," says Chapman. "The future looks bright for jobs with dealerships, production and in technology--and at good pay!"