In the US, prices for used, old tractors are rising enormously, reports the "Star Tribune" from Minnesota. We are not looking for ancient exhibits, but high-performance machines from before 1990. From the buyers' point of view, they have two advantages: Motors and transmissions are practically indestructible. And the vehicles have no electronics on board.
The farmer Kris Folland is not a small farmer, he runs a modern farm with 2000 hectares of arable land. That is exactly why he decided not to buy a new tractor – starting at $ 150,000 – but to buy a 1979 John Deere 4440. It only cost $ 18,000, he told the Star Tribune. He retrofitted a satellite-controlled automatic steering easily and cheaply. "This is still a really good tractor," said Folland, who owns two more tractors that were built before 1982. "These machines are only a fraction of the price, and then the operating costs are much lower because they are so much easier to repair."
Folland is not a nostalgic, he is interested in reducing the operating costs of his company. Modern machines in fact dictate to the farmer in the USA, by whom and how the tractors can be repaired and which spare parts are used. Self-repair is excluded, it must be the authorized workshop. This curtailment of property rights touches a very special topic in the United States because it threatens the autonomy of the farmer. In the United States, this is a commodity that many rural people insist on with religious fervor.
In modern agricultural machinery, US farmers use the services of Eastern European hackers who modify the software so that the manufacturer's locks no longer apply. The easy and legal way, however, leads to old tractors. "It's a trend that is becoming more and more prevalent. In recent years, the trend has been accelerating," said Greg Peterson, founder of an agricultural machinery company, to the newspaper. "There's also an emotional affinity factor when you grow up with these tractors, but it goes beyond that," Peterson said. "These things are basically bulletproof. You can work with them for 15,000 hours and if something breaks, you can just replace it."
Because of the low fuel prices in the United States, they started to trim the machines for efficiency later than in Europe. Engines and other parts that go back to post-war designs are often installed in tractors, trucks, construction machines, but also in pick-ups from before 1990. It is the same with the John Deere 4440. Its basic design dates from the 1960s, and it was perfected further and further until the end of the series. In the "Iron Horse" series – the variant for particularly heavy work – all components were designed to be even more stable and heavy, and extremely powerful engines were installed. You are particularly sought after today. Given the prices for new machines, it is even worth overhauling or even replacing the engine and transmission. So you can extend the life of the tractor by another 12 to 15 years.
Maintenance autonomy is an important issue, Greg Peterson said on the sheet. Software and networking would bring some advantages, the expert explains. But they also have a decisive disadvantage: if even a little something breaks, the machine simply stops in the middle of the harvest and the farmer has to wait until an official service team arrives. With an old 4400, the farmer can often help himself. Any agricultural machine technician in the neighborhood can also repair these tractors. On top of that, the old machines are much more ecological. Their engines are not as efficient, but they work perfectly with every fuel. The farmers therefore stock up on cheap and renewable biodiesel.
Source: Star tribune
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