• Willie Vogt

    Ready to roll, rumble and whatever

    Farmer Iron

     by Willie Vogt
     on April 22, 2015

    It's that exciting, I mean frustrating, no exciting time of year again. I mix and match frustrating and exciting because I think planting time brings both to every farmer whether you're talking corn, soybeans, dry beans, cotton or sorghum (you pick your favorite crop). There's the excitement of loading a planter on a warm sprint day and making those methodical row-by-row passes where you progress across the land you farm. Of course, for some, you're progressing across the rows…

    Continue Reading


  • Willie Vogt

    Agriculture and the Internet of things

    Farmer Iron

     by Willie Vogt
     on April 8, 2015

    Last year at the Consumer Electronics Show talk of the "internet of things" really started big. And the idea has flourished into this year's CES. The idea is that devices would be connected across a network and linked to the cloud in some fashion. But what might that mean for farmers? What follows is a hypothetical, but potentially realistic, way that such a tool might be applied to your farm equipment. Data-connected farm equipment already provides manufacturers rich…

    Continue Reading


  • Willie Vogt

    Global farm machinery outlook dour

    Farmer Iron

     by Willie Vogt
     on March 24, 2015

    It may be like stating the obvious but 2015 farm equipment sales could be soft. Of course, the list of layoffs at the major manufacturers is a solid sign that they're pulling back quickly to avoid past mistakes. In fact, in conversations at the National Farm Machinery Show and Commodity Classic, some of us "legacy" equipment followers talked about this latest downturn versus the historic collapse of the mid 1980s. And we all agreed that this time around, 30 years later, the…

    Continue Reading


  • Willie Vogt

    Rising used farm machinery inventory drives new industry initiative

    Farmer Iron

     by Willie Vogt
     on February 25, 2015

    This week I'll be covering Commodity Classic in Phoenix (and yes I've had more than my fair share of trips to warm places this winter - and I'm not complaining) which includes a great trade show. As I did at the 2015 National Farm Machinery Show I expect to hear more about a trend that has been gaining more traction in the farm equipment industry - certified pre-owned equipment, which I'll call CPO. The idea of CPO products isn't new, major car makers and aggressive dealers…

    Continue Reading


  • Willie Vogt

    Thoughts from a farm show

    Farmer Iron

     by Willie Vogt
     on February 18, 2015

    Farmers are resilient. Despite the news of lower prices, reduced demand and tighter margins there's nothing like a farm show to bring out your best. Last week I was at the National Farm Machinery Show in Louisville, Ky., and apparently so were most of you. The crowds were huge and the mood among exhibitors was one of a bit of 'surprise.' Sure there are situations where it was more look than buy, but several exhibitors I talked with shared they were pleasantly surprised by farmer…

    Continue Reading


  • Willie Vogt

    Machinery year makes soft landing

    Farmer Iron

     by Willie Vogt
     on January 27, 2015

    After about five years of go-go sales the farm equipment industry saw a softer sales year in 2014 according to the December2014 Flash Report from the Association of Equipment Manufacturers. Lower crop prices have business farmers stepping back from sales, but when the dust settled 2014 sales were ahead of the five-year average and just below the previous two years. Looking at the numbers, smaller tractor sales have recovered well after a big slump after the Great Recession in 2008. For…

    Continue Reading


  • Willie Vogt

    Feeling the need for speed?

    Farmer Iron

     by Willie Vogt
     on December 30, 2014

    There's that great line from the movie Top Gun - "I feel the need, the need for speed" and of course they were talking about jet fighters. But these days with less labor and bigger farms I'm thinking a few of our readers feel sometimes like they need some speed too. Perhaps it started when tractor road speeds started to increase. In Europe, where truck taxes and other factors make transportation more tractor-based, faster road speeds are a must. Over that that meant 50 khp…

    Continue Reading


  • Willie Vogt

    The hits just keep coming

    Farmer Iron

     by Willie Vogt
     on December 15, 2014

    The farm equipment market is a nimble environment where the slightest news can make a big difference, and when crop prices started falling so did sales - at least for large equipment. But a quick look at the market shows that on the whole it's been holding its own as commodity prices weakened. The biggest change in sales comes in the largest equipment - big four-wheel drive tractors and combines. So far for the year, the Association of Equipment Manufacturers reports 4-wd tractor sales are…

    Continue Reading


  • Willie Vogt

    5 Things to Think About Harvest, and Post-Harvest

    Farmer Iron

     by Willie Vogt
     on November 22, 2014

    Recently had the chance to sit in the 'training seat' of a combine and have some great conversation with a farmer finishing up his Iowa corn harvest. While we periodically watched the monitor jump above 290 bushels per acre, the main thing was getting finished - as always. And it made me think of a few things in the process, which I thought I would share. 1 - Happy with a big yield. Sure the giant corn crop they keep talking about incessantly is weighing on corn prices, but I'm…

    Continue Reading


  • Willie Vogt

    One tech moving 'up'

    Farmer Iron

     by Willie Vogt
     on November 6, 2014

    There's plenty of evidence you may be slowing those equipment purchases, but one area that remains hot for 2015 is the unmanned aerial vehicle - or drone. We're seeing more online links to drone-made videos that could be called UAV-selfies as farmers have the aerial units follow combines or tractors through the field. Every farm show where UAVs are on display has shown that farmers have a high interest in these tools and their potential for on-farm information gathering. Of course, we…

    Continue Reading


  • Willie Vogt

    Decade of new tire tech includes trip to France for checkup

    Farmer Iron

     by Willie Vogt
     on October 21, 2014

    This job sometimes forces me to travel overseas. It's a small burden I bear for you, dear reader, to learn more about farm technology and tools you can apply in your operation. This time it was a trip to France to check out tire technology, and to note a milestone at Michelin. It's been 10 years since the company premiered the UltraFlex technology that created a new tire classification with IF and VF part of the equipment lingo. The high-flex sidewalls premiered by Michelin aim to…

    Continue Reading


  • Willie Vogt

    Pressure's On

    Farmer Iron

     by Willie Vogt
     on October 6, 2014

    I realize that as you read this you may be doing it over your smart phone sitting in the combine or the truck waiting on something. If you are, do me a favor - take a deep breath and make sure everything you do is with safety in mind. I realize Farm Safety Week has passed, but it's kind of odd to just note a single week. This should be your mantra - Farm Safety Always. And this harvest 2014 crop is going to push your safety to the limit. Nothing like a record crop with wet weather and the…

    Continue Reading


  • Willie Vogt

    Corporate Histories can be Fascinating

    Farmer Iron

     by Willie Vogt
     on September 23, 2014

    One of the fun parts of this job is the ability to dig into a company's history. It's amazing how companies got their starts and where they ended up today. Sometimes it's a straight line? Other times, it can be as diverse as you can imagine. This week, as noted earlier in this space, I'm in France on a trip with folks from Michelin learning more about the farm tire business, and how they'll be tackling it for the future. But part of the trip included a stop at the…

    Continue Reading


  • Willie Vogt

    International Travel is Eye Opener

    Farmer Iron

     by Willie Vogt
     on September 21, 2014

    I'm heading overseas again. I say that matter of factly but 34 years ago when I became an ag journalist I didn't think leaving the country was part of the responsibilities. However, I've had the good fortune to travel to many countries in Europe over the past few decades and I enjoy the conversations I have and the way I learn from people. This week I'll be in France learning more about farm tires and how Michelin takes on the challenge. The company that invented the radial car…

    Continue Reading


  • Willie Vogt

    Thinking irrigation

    Farmer Iron

     by Willie Vogt
     on September 8, 2014

    Different farm shows have different strengths. It could be said that Farm Progress Show is the home of next-season rollouts for all the major equipment makers. Husker Harvest Days gives Western farmers a chance to see those tools too, but the added value is the focus on irrigation. And I'm expecting to see some amazing stuff this week. New ways to manage water, water use data and more are on tap. I'll be sharing more of that as I learn more. You'll be able to catch of lot of that…

    Continue Reading


  • Willie Vogt

    Day 5: Home Early, A Little Reflection

    Farmer Iron

     by Willie Vogt
     on August 29, 2014

    For the first time in 9 years we lost a day at the Farm Progress Show. We made the call to open the gates, and less than an hour after they did the rise of threatening weather meant we were going home early. Tuesday and Wednesday were great days. I have a ton of material to work through to share with you in the coming weeks from tires to tractors, from technology to research. Everyone was at Farm Progress Show sharing their insights, offering visitors new tools and information. Then comes…

    Continue Reading


  • Willie Vogt

    Day 4: Last Day, a Little Rain

    Farmer Iron

     by Willie Vogt
     on August 28, 2014

    UPDATE: 9:25 A.M. CENTRAL: This blog was written early Thursday morning when Events folks decided to move ahead with the show opening. Not three hours later worsening weather turned on the show and gates were closed. Yet when I arrived at the site this morning that was the exhibitor attitude, we're here, let's have a show. Essentially farm show veterans know the score, and just like farmers, they know weather makes all the difference. Thanks for reading, enjoy what I wrote earlier and…

    Continue Reading


  • Willie Vogt

    Day 3: Ready for a Wednesday

    Farmer Iron

     by Willie Vogt
     on August 27, 2014

    Wet weather leaves farmers with little to do and when a big show is nearby, why not head that way even if there's mud in the parking lot? That was the attitude Tuesday as the Farm Progress Show opened after an inch of rain fell in the early morning hours. But that was yesterday, it's Wednesday, the traditionally biggest day of the show and we're excited. From my hotel room early in the morning I see little evidence of overnight rain so the grounds are drying out further and the…

    Continue Reading


  • Willie Vogt

    Day 2: Opening Farm Progress Show Day

    Farmer Iron

     by Willie Vogt
     on August 26, 2014

    Anyone with a history of attending outdoor farm shows can tell you stories of their experiences at these big events. Like farmers, event teams have to deal with the one thing they can't control - weather. And today is no different. An early morning thunderstorm rolled through the show site dropping an inch of rain in a short time, and challenging the permanent biennial site's draining system. Yet it held, and as I drove onto the site to drop some things off at our editorial space…

    Continue Reading


  • Willie Vogt

    Day 1: Farm Progress Show Week

    Farmer Iron

     by Willie Vogt
     on August 25, 2014

    This week I'm going to produce a daily blog during the Farm Progress Show to share what I see and offer a glimpse into some of what we as the media see at the event. For many of us we get paid to spend more than a single day at the show, and we get to see it all. Of course, seeing it all also means balancing a schedule that fills fast with a range of media events and special information presentations. Ahead of the show today, for example, I'm traveling to Nevada, Iowa to spend time…

    Continue Reading


  • Willie Vogt

    Prep for the Big Show

    Farmer Iron

     by Willie Vogt
     on August 20, 2014

    Years ago when I first joined Farm Progress, I was excited because I could be paid to go to the historic big event - The Farm Progress Show! Back then getting information out to you meant you had to wait for the show program to show up in the host state local magazine. And that's still a critical resource. Otherwise there would be those press releases announcing location, or perhaps some key announcements regarding on-site events. Today, however, the Web has changed all that and frankly if…

    Continue Reading


  • Willie Vogt

    Farm Shows: Two-Weeks and Counting

    Farmer Iron

     by Willie Vogt
     on August 11, 2014

    As corn and soybeans mature across the Midwest it's time to start thinking about fall and for me that includes fall farm shows. Yes, I get paid to go to farm shows, two of which we own and another in the South we have a great relationship with, and I don't get tired of attending. Every year companies pull together their latest and greatest tools - and we'll see plenty this year from the majors - the New Holland Combine has already debuted and I know that company has more in store…

    Continue Reading


  • Willie Vogt

    Aerial Equipment May Be Next on the Farm Buying List

    Farmer Iron

     by Willie Vogt
     on July 30, 2014

    In FarmerIron I'm usually covering the industry and the equipment you use on the farm, but these days I'm looking up. A few weeks ago I was at the Precision Aerial Ag Show, and I got and eyefull of new ways to capture on-farm data. And it gives you plenty to think about. There’s solid interest in this technology judging by the focused attendance at this event. Farmers were on hand from the moment the gates opened until the doors were closed. And the demonstration of a range of…

    Continue Reading


  • Willie Vogt

    Labor Changes Still Drive Innovation

    Farmer Iron

     by Willie Vogt
     on July 14, 2014

    In the 1920s more than 30% of the US population lived and worked on farms. The days were filled with hard labor and there was plenty to go around. Yet there were some new technologies on the rise as iron started replacing true horsepower. When it became possible for a single person to pull a four-bottom plow without horses and cover more acres in a day, a farmer could think of having more acres. Then came the Depression, which forced many off the farm - and some will recall the Depression…

    Continue Reading


  • Willie Vogt

    Several Seasons in Agriculture

    Farmer Iron

     by Willie Vogt
     on June 24, 2014

    We talk a lot about seasons in agriculture. The weather is the link between profit and loss for many operations as you prepare, plant, tend and harvest a crop. Nature has a way of waylaying all plans for a successful year. I'm finding there are more than four seasons these days, and while some may just impact a lowly ag journalist like myself, others impact you too. Some are weather related, and some, well not so much. Take road construction. Colleague, and fellow blogger, Fran…

    Continue Reading


  • Willie Vogt

    Making the Case for Tax Break

    Farmer Iron

     by Willie Vogt
     on June 10, 2014

    When 2013 came to an end, so did the enriched version of the Section 179 expensing provision in the tax code that had risen to as high as $500,000. Today, the level is $25,000 and its stuck there. The increases in the provision over the years were all temporary and Congress stepped away from making the increase permanent and let it lapse back to the earlier standard. Congress has been looking at the provision and the Association of Equipment Manufacturers agrees something needs to be done. The…

    Continue Reading


  • Willie Vogt

    Farm Machinery Sales Remain Solid

    Farmer Iron

     by Willie Vogt
     on May 21, 2014

    It's like waiting for a crash at a NASCAR race. Ag industry observers are watching to see when farmers might 'blink' and stop buying equipment. Of course, it could happy at any time, but we also know that running the most efficient equipment has a payback as well. It appears, according to industry stats, that you agree. In the latest Association of Equipment Manufacturers Flash Report for April, sales remain near previous year levels and well above the five-year average. There is…

    Continue Reading


  • Willie Vogt

    One Last Run through the Shop

    Farmer Iron

     by Willie Vogt
     on April 30, 2014

    Took a trip this week to visit with a farmer for a future story I'm working on, and it was a spur of the moment call - in April. Sad thing is that I knew I'd catch him because this prolonged rain in the northern Corn Belt has us all sitting around watching the skies. Equipment is positioned in the shed, it's greased, checked out and all the connections are tested, you're ready to roll. And my guess is many of you are envious of those farmers who post planting shots on Facebook…

    Continue Reading