That depends partly on how busy they are at the time. The lack of
time can be a deciding issue especially at planting and harvest time.
Farm equipment is getting more complex as time goes on. Farmers
sometimes assume a problem is more complicated than it actually is.
They call repairmen when they don't need to at times because of that.
Quite a few farmers also hire to have their fields sprayed.
One thing that surprised me is how many farmers use crop consultants.
The consultants do the soil sampling for nutrients and check the
crops' development. They check for disease and insect infestations.
The consultants also check soil moisture levels in the summer and make
recommendations for irrigation.
Probably not. There are something like a million and a half
farmers left in the U.S.
Those are the mostly mechanistic reasons -- more fundamentally, any
farmer who is actually farming for a living these days is the CEO of a
(not necessarily all that small) business and his time is very often far
more valuable making decisions on such data and other management tasks
than it is in actually doing the work itself (altho I don't know a one
that doesn't have calloused hands and dirt under their fingernails).
Am one of the remaining 1+ M; while fairly small by local standards it's
no less true that most of my time is taken up w/ either the business end
or other management tasks; the larger the operation the more true it
But even 50 years ago, father and even grandfather before him had a
judgment of what was or was not time-effective use of their available
time and what went to town. When time for harvesting or sowing wheat
came around, replacing bearings in the drill disks and new scrapers was
homework; an engine needing rebuilding almost certainly went to town
simply owing to the time and complexity. Partly that was constrained by
the fact that at that time we did not have the fully-equipped enclosed,
heated/cooled/lighted shop; everything had to happen outside. Now could
take on a lot of things didn't then but on the way equipment has
improved so the frequency of those kinds of jobs has gone down. The
point on complexity is, however, real--there are just many things that
owing to the computerized nature of even things like air seeders that
just require the specialized gear of the dealer shop.
OTOH, while that's an expense, the scale and precision and resulting
combination of more acres/hour and better results afterwards makes the
features not only desirable but mandatory to actual be profitable with
such high input costs as are today.
Rest of a good explanation cut due to AIOE quotation limit.
That reminds me of a time I repaired an irrigation system for a guy.
He naturally asked what I'd fixed. My explanation must've gotten a
little long winded. He cut me off and said:
"Never mind. I can always hire you to fix that stuff. I need to spend
my time managing the money."
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