Tuesday, January 14, 2020

When John Deere becomes too dear

Very slow getting underway in the new year. I'm working on a course. My apologies to all.

Interesting article in Vice by Matthew Gault, Farmers Are Buying 40-Year-Old Tractors Because They're Actually Repairable.

It's not a long article but it deals with the problems of repairing equipment when you need a computer for the repairs and where the digital rights software attached to the computer built into the equipment require you to take it to an authorised outlet for repair, adding to time and costs.

I must admit that I am getting a bit tired of the costs, risks and reduction in choice associated with new technology, Yes, I know that I am a troglodyte.  We have established that before. I am well aware of the gains associated with new technology, I am as reliant on the convenience associated with the technology as anyone else, But, still, I am in rebellion.

So far, that rebellion has taken no form other than bewailing and a degree of anger when things go wrong. I am reminded of old man Carson in R S Porteous's book Brigalow. I really like that book. Mr Carson can be irascible, especially where equipment breaks down or service is bad. He is constantly threatening to write to the manufacturer or supplier.

One day after a really bad blow-up he goes to his office and gets our a pad and pen. Normally, he only uses the office to write up accounts or keep that detailed weather log that forms the love of his life. There is a considerable pause and then he comes out onto the verandah to get a glass of water from the canvas water bottle that hangs there all the time to keep cool, "You know, Bob", he says to his manager Bob Anders, " one day I will write."

I guess that I'm a bit like old man Carson. Still, you never know.

Postscript 21 January 2020

kvd kindly pointed me to this 2015 link which shows that the John Deere problem has been around for some time: New High-Tech Farm Equipment Is a Nightmare for Farmers 

Postscript 19 April 2020

Again thanks to kvd for the links,the  in  'Right to repair' taken up by the ACCC in farmers' fight to fix their own tractors, the ABC's  Kit Mochan reports that the ACCC (Australian Competition & Consumer Commission) will examine whether international tractor manufacturers are failing Australian farmers who want access to software tools and parts to repair their own machinery.

As part of the process, the ACCC has released a discussion paper on the issue and is also surveying producers. You can access both here.  The due date for responses to the survey has been extended to Wednesday 22 April 2020, while the due date for submissions to the discussion paper has been extended to Sunday 31 May 2020.


Anonymous said...

This problem of repairability (if that's a word) has been around for a long time. I'm sure I was reading of it up to 10 years ago, but the earliest specific article I can quickly find is:


- from February 2015.

And there's even a small wiki mention regarding machinery proprietory code:


You have to particularly feel for the farming community in this. Hundreds of years of self-sufficiency supplanted in a generation by machines too complex to allow on-site repair. No more baling twine, barbed wire and gaffer tape temporary fixes.

Reminds also of that genetically "improved" seed - which was sterile, so forced repurchase each planting season.


Anonymous said...

Also, those "prove you're human" verification tests I get when I post a comment - e.g. tick all the traffic lights - I guess are being fed into a google database for use in driverless cars?


Jim Belshaw said...

The last may be right, kvd. Thank you for those earlier links. So the problem has been around for a while. I was conscious of that, but couldn't remember when I first saw a reference. It was later than 2015. I will bring the JD story up in a postscript. Perhaps a market opening for the Chinese if they can absorb the tariffs?

Unknown said...

Jim: advances in technology on my iPhone in conjunction with app design and sophistication have almost entirely liberated me from a desktop and laptop.
Best for 2020.

Jim Belshaw said...

Hi David and thanks. Sorry for the slow response. You obviously have a better mobile than me! Are you still doing any writing? I would struggle to do that on a mobile.

Anonymous said...


which links to this:



Jim Belshaw said...

Thanks for this, kvd. That's very interesting. I will bring it up as a postscript in the post.