• Tom Bechman

    Robots and ag technology take over my world

    Hoosier Perspectives

     by Tom Bechman
     on April 13, 2015

    I was born to appreciate technology. As a child of the 1950s and '60s, I saw how to work the hard way, forking silage and scooping manure by hand. I wasn't born at the right time to use technology – much of it, even how to use it, let alone how it works, is far beyond me. But it fascinated me nonetheless. Perhaps no ag technology has caught my eye and made me laugh and say, "why didn't I think of that" more than the pint-sized Lely robotic sweeper in the free-stall…

    Continue Reading


  • Tom Bechman

    There Can Be a Price to Pay for Technology

    Hoosier Perspectives

     by Tom Bechman
     on October 27, 2014

    A new roof went on my house this week, the result of hail damage. The contractor has a gray beard and wears an Amish-style hat. But he's really not Amish, so it doesn't raise any eyebrows when he uses a cell phone. However, when he calls me from the ladder outside my office window, wanting me to look out at a piece of decking he removed, and we're face-to-face, with just a window in between, something seems odd. Those situations used to go this way: he would knock, I would open…

    Continue Reading


  • Tom Bechman

    Could a Smartphone App Soon Run Your Farm? There's One for Everything

    Hoosier Perspectives

     by Tom Bechman
     on August 4, 2014

    In my day if someone said, "Get me an app," I would have headed for the apple tree. If you hear it today and the person is 25 years old or younger, you can be 100% sure they're not talking about Red Delicious apples. They're talking about 'apps' that you can download from the Apple or Google store on your phone or other device. It lets them do all kinds of things. I was forking out manure from sheep pens in a barn too small to get the tractor and loader into with my…

    Continue Reading


  • Tom Bechman

    Farmers, Government and Industry Will Take Time to Sort Out UAV's Future

    Hoosier Perspectives

     by Tom Bechman
     on July 14, 2014

    Are unmanned aerial vehicles, sometimes called drones, the next game-changing technology in agriculture? Or are they a flash in the pan? Will the Federal Aviation Administration knock them out of the sky before most ever get a chance to soar? These questions and many more swirled around the large crowds of farmers who visited the first UAV show at the Farm Progress Show site in Decatur, Ill. Based on size of the crowds, one thing is not in question – farmers are interested in this new…

    Continue Reading


  • Tom Bechman

    Spring Moldboard Plowing? Really?

    Hoosier Perspectives

     by Tom Bechman
     on May 20, 2013

    You can dust off tillage trials by Don Griffith, a former Purdue University Extension agronomist, that date back into the 1970's and 1980's. Of all the systems studied, moldboard plowing in the spring was one that typically returned the lowest yields. Many Indiana soils are simply too heavy and wet to respond well to plowing in the spring when soils tend to have extra moisture, and clods form easily. Fast forward to 2013. Most moldboard plows are parked. A few companies still…

    Continue Reading


  • Tom Bechman

    Simplify Complex Agriculture Until It Works

    Hoosier Perspectives

     by Tom Bechman
     on February 25, 2013

    Life is more complex today than when your father farmed. Heck, it's more complex than when you farmed five years ago. Truth is it's more complex right now than when you parked your combine last fall. Technology is added every day, and nothing stays as it is very long. However, this doesn't mean you need a PhD to continue farming. Past education isn't important. It's what you're willing to learn now as new technology comes along that matters. The biggest mistake…

    Continue Reading


  • Tom Bechman

    Sometimes I Wonder About New Technology

    Hoosier Perspectives

     by Tom Bechman
     on November 12, 2012

    My cell phone should be attached to my hip. If they could do that, I would probably have the surgery. I feel lost without it, but I'm bad about remembering where it is. One morning recently I had a 400 mile trip with two stops for interviews, actually taking me into Ohio briefly and back into Indiana. I got ready the night before by using Mapquest – can't live without it, right? I put in the first place I was going, then got directions from the first place to the…

    Continue Reading


  • Tom Bechman

    Technology Has Arrived On My Doorstep

    Hoosier Perspectives

     by Tom Bechman
     on September 10, 2012

    I was the first in the company to have a personal computer. It was in the late '80's, and it was an old KayPro. It came in a metal case, and they shoved them out so fast that they put the wrong covers on some machines. A machine that said KayPro might really be a KayPro IV. I no longer had to use a typewriter. But when we got ready to send something, anything, as in send a story to our office in Chicago, it was a 20-step process. It usually entailed a call to John Otte in Des Moines to see…

    Continue Reading


  • Tom Bechman

    The Cost of Technology Today

    Hoosier Perspectives

     by Tom Bechman
     on May 7, 2012

    My wife, Carla, opened the cellphone bill a few days ago and couldn't believe her eyes. It was $200 higher than it had ever been before, and it's already high enough that I gripe about it every month. That's because mom and dad are still supporting cell phones for four grown kids on the plan. Once they get jobs, that stops. In fact, the oldest has been told that once she gets a job, she can start paying all her bills plus a monthly stipend to us, just because. She's starting to think I'm not…

    Continue Reading


  • Tom Bechman

    Who Says Time Travel Isn't Possible?

    Hoosier Perspectives

     by Tom Bechman
     on November 22, 2010

    This past week I reached out to people over a 500 mile radius. If I had done those interviews in person and took those pictures as in the good old days, it would have been some 2,500 miles. I would have been tired beyond belief by Friday night. Besides, I wouldn't have many if any stories written either. As it is, I've got a nice variety and number of stories prepared for you to enjoy when the January issue of Indiana Prairie Farmer kicks off the New Year. And I seldom left the comfort of my…

    Continue Reading