National Farm Machinery Show Seminars Key Takeaways

Published: February 28, 2022 Updated: December 6, 2023
After the show is over and the equipment packed away, we like to look back on some of the key takeaways from this year’s seminar. After a year hiatus, there was a lot to learn at this year’s National Farm Machinery Show. Here are a few key takeaways from the seminars this year.  

Keeping on Track presented by Farm Futures

Farm Future’s “Keeping on Track” seminar looked at the state of GPS today and how those tools are being used on the farm. Matt Wolfe from Ag Leader talked about tools using GPS to create yield maps. “Today the monitor is used across the operation from planting to harvest,” he said, allowing farms to have precise information. The technology has evolved to be used in planters, sprayers and combines.  Trimble Regional Sales Manager Alex Ngu walked attendees through the evolution of precision GPS signals which today no longer need a fixed-based station to achieve sub-centimeter accuracy. “A problem with satellite correction has been convergence times, but with multiple satellite constellations to view, we have reduced convergence times significantly,” he said. What once could take more than an hour is now down to minutes.

The State of Autonomy presented by Farm Futures

The challenges farmers face are the driving force behind the increased use of automation. Sarah Schinkel, lead-tech stack innovation at John Deere said, “The use of automation has led farmers to be more efficient, and autonomy is not a big leap.” The rise of the use of sensors on equipment married with artificial intelligence and machine learning is helping automate processes that farmers did in the past. The data gathered from a combine or tractor can be used by the farmer but also to develop better machines. Deere is moving toward autonomy with the launch of its first driverless tractor system, an autonomous 8R set up for tillage.  “I think for the autonomous 8R tractor we used something like 50 million images as part of the training for that system,” she says. Paul Welbig, Director of Sales at Raven Industries, discussed the OmniPOWER and OmniDRIVE systems from his company. Both bring a level of autonomy to agriculture. During his discussion he walked through the progression to autonomy, building on Schinkel’s comments regarding the use of sensors and automation that eventually leads to taking the driver out of the machine. With the OmniDRIVE system, a combine operator can call over a driverless tractor pulling a grain cart to continue off-loading on the go.  The OmniPOWER system is fully autonomous with no cab. It’s a task-focused machine that can be used for fertilizer spreading, spraying and more applications are being developed. “There is a requirement that a person be present when the machine is running,” Welbig says. He adds, however, that this can be a person in one machine with the autonomous system working alongside, which is now being done by some customers in the U.S. and Canada. 

Building Better Grain Dryers presented by Farm Futures

The overall theme showed that the controls and systems for today’s grain dryers are much more precise with electronics for monitoring and control.  Jeremy Kemp, the director of sales and marketing at Mathews Company, outlined the rise of high-tech controls to manage grain dryers. “In the early days I liken the dryer controls to a rotary phone,” he said. “They would do what you needed, start and stop the dryer, but not much more.” Today’s dryer controls mated to sensors allow a farmer to know what’s going on from start to finish in the dryer process.  Sukup adds that dryers are easily operated using a smartphone, and provide farmers the alerts and updates needed to maintain safety and grain quality.  One trend discussed is the move by farmers to mixed-flow dryers that move air through the grain more efficiently. A key benefit of those dryers, both outlined, is that they don’t need regular screen cleaning. That’s a process that only needs to be done at the end of the drying season.

Machinery Pete Used Equipment Market Update presented by Farm Journal Media

Greg Peterson from Machinery Pete discussed the driving forces behind the hottest used equipment market in history. There has been an unprecedented increase in used equipment values across the board, on all types of equipment. After leveling off in 2015, used machinery is seeing the highest prices in years. There is no better time to be a seller as the market is hungry for quality used equipment. High values are being driven by many factors, including:
  • Supply is down compared to demand. The supply continues to tighten while the demand increases.
  • Continuing Supply chain issues. There are many indications they may not resolve themselves until 2023.
  • Most new equipment is pre-ordered. Uncertainty around on-time delivery is pushing people back into the used equipment market because they need guaranteed delivery before harvest. 
Buyers may not like the prices (whereas sellers are loving them) but with no end in sight, farmers might need to buy the equipment they need despite the price.  Mark your calendars for next year’s show, February 15-18, 2023 and make sure you visit one of the many seminars to make the most of your show.