If you’ve been driving across the countryside this time of year, you have likely seen combines working across the fields in every direction. From the road, it looks like these machines are moving at a snail’s pace, shelling corn back and forth. But if you were to look deeper inside that combine cab, you would see a flurry of activity.
I sell seed so I spend my days this time of year jumping in and out of combine cabs, riding with farmers to see the results of this year’s crop and talk about plans for next year. I am amazed every single day at what goes on inside those cabs or, as I like to call them, command centers.
If you could look inside a farmer’s head this time of year, you would see nothing but numbers constantly being crunched. They’re keeping track of every bushel, figuring which loads need to go to town to the elevator and which can go home to their on-farm storage. They’re keeping track of how many more bushels they need for their landlord versus their own share. They’re tracking how full their grain bins are getting and when they’ll need to move grain around to allow for more room all while making sure the grain dryer is working properly and drying corn to the perfect moisture.
They’re always thinking ten steps ahead of where they are right now because they also serve as the logistics manager, keeping trucks, tractors and wagons or grain carts where they need to be so that the combine NEVER has to stop. They’re keeping track of planting dates, moisture levels and standability of the crop to determine which field should be harvested next. And mother-nature always has a way of changing even the best laid plans.
Inside the command center, there is constant beeping, buzzing and alerts going off. And no, it’s not their Facebook or Twitter notifications. Most farmers I ride with are tracking the markets with their smartphones all day long, constantly monitoring the gauges in the machine to make sure it’s working properly, wearing a headset to take frequent calls or using a FM radio to keep the whole crew moving in the right direction all while operating half-a-million-dollar’s-worth of machinery up and down the field rows. No big deal.
In our combine, the data that is being brought into the machine such as bushels, test weight, moisture, yield, etc. is instantaneously uploaded to the cloud. We can measure how each farm is performing at any given second. For example, just recently we had a landlord that texted us, wanting to know how the farm was doing. We could pull the data from our smartphones and text them yield map images, moisture information and more within seconds.
There’s an age-old debate on whether or not men can multi-task as effectively as women. My personal experience has been that if you give them a bunch of horsepower to manage, their multi-tasking skills tremendously improve. 😉