John Deere to Sell Diagnostic Software Directly to Farmers

 Farmers Demand Right to Fix Their Own Dang Tractors]

Farmers across the US have long wanted the right to fix their own tractors. And in March, John Deere—which controls 50 percent of the tractor and combine trade in North America— announced it would give it to them. Kind of.

Farmers’ fight to fix their own machinery or be able to take it to repair shops independent from equipment manufacturers, dubbed the “right to repair” movement, is in reaction to the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act that made it a violation for farmers to repair tractors themselves.

Starting next year, Deere will offer farmers “self-repair solutions” for their machines, but it comes with a cost. The company’s new initiative will allow tractor owners to purchase software that can clear and refresh codes as well as perform diagnostic readings on the machines. The programming, called Customer Service ADVISORwill start at $1,200 but may be more expensive depending on the machine type. It will be available to purchase starting in May.

Even with the steep price tag, the software still only enables limited calibrations and is not the same software to which a certified Deere technician has access.

Why not give farmers and independent technicians a full ride to repair the machines?

Well, Deere holds that the complex nature of new machines—with internet connections, computers and hundreds of sensors—makes them a danger if they aren’t programmed correctly. In fact, during an interview with the tech news website the Verge, John Deere’s chief technology officer Jahmy Hindman said he worried that users could accidentally lose control of their machines if they make certain changes to their software.<

The recent move to give farmers more autonomy to update and fix their own machines comes after immense pressure on the company.

On March 3, the National Farmers Commission filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission that says Deere & Co. is using its power to continue to monopolize the repair market for the machines

In the complaint, farmers spell out just how large the issue is, highlighting that malfunctioning machines will go into “limp” mode—rendering them unusable without the help of a specialized Deere technician and Deere-owned software—costing farmers precious days and dollars while they are forced to wait for the repairs.

In response to farmers’ outcries, Montana senator John Tester sponsored a bill in February that would require manufacturers of the equipment to provide repair software to farmers. The bill follows a move by President Biden last July, when he signed an executive order that urged the Federal Trade Commission to reconfigure the current laws and reduce machine repair restrictions.

But the limited software Deere will now offer seems like only a small first step, giving farmers an inch when they want to take their own tractors the whole mile.

The post John Deere to Sell Diagnostic Software Directly to Farmers appeared first on Modern Farmer.

Cotton picker at sundown..photo by Gene Gulley

Why You Should Always Wear an Equestrian Helmet

Did you know that equestrian sports are the biggest contributor to sports-related traumatic brain injuries? A  study published in the Journal of Neurosurgery found that horseback riding contributed to 45.2 percent of all sports-related brain injuries. As horseback riders, we love our sport. The thrill of working as a team with an animal much larger than you is empowering and exhilarating. But it can also be very dangerous. One of the best ways to mitigate the hazards of working with horses is to wear an equestrian helmet every time you ride. Unfortunately, we still see that many riders do not prioritize equestrian helmet safety, instead choosing to wear top hats or cowboy hats. This International Helmet Awareness Day, prioritize your health. Here’s why you should be wearing an equestrian helmet every time you ride.

The Impacts of Traumatic Brain Injuries

 

Many equestrians either don’t recognize the symptoms of traumatic brain injuries or don’t believe them to be a big deal. After all, it’s only been over the past decade that scientific research has shown us just how serious these injuries are. Previously, riders were encouraged to “walk it off” and get back on the horse no matter what. Now, we’re starting to realize that even mild traumatic brain injuries, colloquially known as concussions, can have serious long-term health effects. According to the  Journal of Neurosurgery, “Emerging research suggests that even comparatively mild injury—especially when repetitive—is not without cognitive or neuropsychiatric consequences and may contribute to the development of neurodegeneration known as “chronic traumatic encephalopathy.” Read more »

The Curious Case of the Horse’s Frog

The frog, that wedge-shaped cushion or pad on the bottom of the horse’s hoof, is nature’s answer to equine traction, circulation, shock absorption and, apparently, humankind’s curious attempt at naming parts of the horse.

Why, of all the nouns in the world, was “frog” chosen to describe something that really has little resemblance to its amphibian namesake?

While researching a story on dressage and war I happened upon, with some delight, an excerpt from a translated version of The Art of Horsemanship written by Xenophon (c. 430–335 BC) who lived during a period when time went in reverse. Xenophon is often referred to as the father of classical horsemanship. A dear friend to Socrates, he wrote about the equine frog 2,500 years ago.

This is how Morris H. Morgan, Ph. D, translated Xenophon’s Greek text in 1893:

As a monolinguist, I was forced to seek out the meaning of some of the keywords in the paragraph. Fourchette, for example, doesn’t mean frog, but rather fork. Visually, the word almost looks like “frog,” but I struggle to see how the frog resembles a dining utensil.

So, I turned once again to my favorite author, Bill Bryson. In At Home: A Short History of Private Life, he mentions that the four-pronged fork that we know, love and eat with today came about in the 19-century. Prior to that, forks were a perilous two-pronged affair. So, if we think of a horse’s hoof as a two-pronged fork, things start to make a little more sense. Read more »

Why Zebras Have Stripes and Other Dazzling Facts

Zebras are the showboaters of the Equidae family with their flashy coats and exotic locales.

It’s their stripes that noticeably set them apart from our beloved horses, much the way the donkeys’ long ears set them apart. And this is why I have decided to delve into the reason zebras have stripes.

Why so snazzy?

Why zebras have stripes is a puzzling question that no one can answer with certainty. There are, of course, several different theories biologists are leaning towards.

One such theory is camouflage. And while I am not a scientist of any kind, I think this makes sense based solely on the fact that wild animals are generally designed to blend in seamlessly with their environment.

The wilds of Africa may not appear overly striped vertically or horizontally, but mother nature seems to know what she is doing. I would have thought elephants would always be easy to spot given their size and gray color against the tawny vegetation, but I can assure you those juggernauts can slip right past you without your knowledge. So, I say yes to camouflage, if anyone is asking. Read more »

The Art and Science of Shoeing Horses

Should a horse be barefoot or shod? What is the role of science and research in shoeing horses, both now and in the future?

Farrier Pat Reilly, Chief of Farrier Services and Director of the Applied Polymer Research Laboratory at the University of Pennsylvania, shares his insights on these topics and more in the second episode of the Sport Horse Podcast.

As Chief of Farrier Services, Reilly’s typical workday is anything but. “When you work in an a tertiary emergency practice, the unknown is the one thing you can count on,” said the recent Royal Veterinary College graduate. (Reilly earned a graduate diploma in Equine Locomotor Research.)

Tasked with coordinating with the medical team to help manage the lame horses that present to the Center, he sometimes sees as many as four laminitis cases in a day. Reilly discussed the role of teamwork in this setting and having open communication between all members of the staff to ensure the horse receives the best care possible.

It’s a theme that translates to horse care in general. Read more »

One Exercise I Return to Frequently When Developing the Canter

#MasterclassMonday is a collaboration between Horse Network and NOELLEFLOYD.com to empower equestrians. Every Monday we’ll bring you a new lesson from a leading trainer to help you troubleshoot your training, master your mindset and up your game. This month’s featured rider: Karl Cook teaches strategic riding.

Welcome back!

Last week, we discussed why the canter needs to be a primary focus in your training (yes, even more than the jumps, in many cases). If you haven’t read that yet, start here.

Before we dive into the exercises, I want to make an important point. When you start to develop a truly connected and engaged canter, it may feel different to you.

It may feel intimidating, and you may have an instinct to shut it down to a level that you feel comfortable with. I urge you to work with a trainer who can help you overcome this reaction, because it’s important that your entire body moves, absorbs, allows and encourages that connected canter. You can learn to adapt and go with it, but it takes work and moments of feeling uncomfortable. Read more »

5 Spring Horse Hoof Care Tips

Spring is a beautiful time of year. The first crocuses of the year are poking their bright green heads out of the ground. The sounds of robins fill the air and everything begins to turn lush again after a long, dreary winter. Unfortunately, when it comes to horse hoof care, spring isn’t all good things. Having the right hoof care supplies on hand and following these five spring hoof care tips can make this season even more enjoyable for both you and your horse.

Win the Battle Against Thrush

Muddy conditions and warm temperatures create the perfect conditions for thrush and other bacterial infections. Thrush is an insidious hoof infection that starts around your horse’s frog. Bacteria will find its way into the folds around your horse’s frog and start to eat away at the healthy tissue.

 

Thrush is notoriously smelly. If you pick up your horse’s hoof and get a whiff of something rotting, then you might be dealing with thrush. It almost smells like a miniature compost heap. You may also notice an odd black goo-like substance as well. In some horse’s hooves, it may almost seem like powder. If you see this, you are definitely dealing with a thrush infection. Read more »

It’s Time to Put Daylight Saving Time to Bed

Have you heard the one about Daylight Saving Time (DST) and farmers? As the story goes, farmers and agriculture groups lobbied for DST in order to have more light at the end of their day to complete their work. One Texas state rep even credited farmers with introducing DST, when he promoted a bill that would abolish the practice a few years ago.

In reality, that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Daylight Saving Time was first introduced in America in 1918 as a way to conserve electricity during the First World War. At the time, farmers lobbied hard against the practice, as their day is dictated by the sun, rather than the clock. Agricultural groups led a 1919 fight to repeal DST, but they were overruled by Congress.

Now, a century later, the time-shift still takes place across most of the US, with the exception of Hawaii and most of Arizona. In recent years, a dozen states have introduced legislation to get rid of DST, including Ohio, Utah, Washington, Florida and South Carolina.

Public perception of Daylight Saving Time has continued to wane over the years, with more people pushing to get rid of the disruptive time change ritual. Yet, through all of this, the myth of farmers being intrinsically linked to DST persists. So we asked you, real farmers, how you felt about Daylight Saving Time. Is it helpful? Is it disruptive? You answered our call, and the results are in: DST is “a pain in the loin chop,” to quote just one of the many emails we received. Here are the top three reasons DST hurts agricultural work, according to real farmers. Read more »

A Horse Owner’s Guide to Colic Surgery Recovery

Every owner dreads having to decide whether or not to send their horse onto the surgical table for colic surgery.

For a fully-informed decision, it is important that the horse’s owner or caretaker understand what to expect throughout the recovery process.

Palm Beach Equine Clinic (PBEC) veterinarian Weston Davis, DVM, DACVS, assisted by Sidney Chanutin, DVM, have an impressive success rate when it comes to colic surgeries, and the team is diligent about counseling patients’ owners on how to care for their horse post-surgery.

“After we determine that the patient is a strong surgical candidate, the first portion of the surgery is exploratory so we can accurately define the severity of the case,” explained Dr. Davis. “That moment is when we decide if the conditions are positive enough for us to proceed with surgery. It’s always my goal to not make a horse suffer through undue hardship if they have a poor prognosis.”

Weston Davis, DVM, DACVS,

Once Dr. Davis gives the green light for surgical repair, the surgery is performed, and recovery begins immediately.

“The time period for the patient waking up in the recovery room to them standing should ideally be about 30 minutes,” continued Dr. Davis. “At PBEC, we do our best to contribute to this swift return by using a consistent anesthesia technique. Our team controls the anesthesia as lightly as we can and constantly monitors blood pressure. We administer antibiotic, anti-inflammatory, anti-endotoxic drugs, and plasma to help combat the toxins that the horse releases during colic. Our intention in the operating room is to make sure colic surgeries are completed successfully, but also in the most time-efficient manner.” Read more »

Oregon Becomes Eighth State to Pass Overtime Pay for Farmworkers

After recent years of record-high temperatures and raging wildfires, Oregon farmworkers will now be entitled to overtime pay under a bill passed by the state legislature last week.

The legislation states that farmworkers will eventually be entitled to overtime pay after 40 hours of work. If signed by Oregon Governor Kate Brown, as is expected, the law will require a five-year phase-in process. Starting in 2023-2024, the overtime compensation will kick in at 55 hours per week, then 48 hours in 2025-2026, with the 40-hour max beginning in 2027. The Oregon Senate passed the bill in a 17-10 vote.

The increased risk for farmworkers associated with hotter temperatures, tumultuous fire seasons and overall impacts of climate change was top of mind at the hearing, where some of the more than 1,000 people who submitted testimony raised the point that farmworkers are required to work outdoors regardless of the high temperatures, thick smoke and other extreme weather events.

And the work environment for Oregon farmworkers keeps getting more hostile. According to the National Weather Service, 2020 was the hottest year on record in Oregon since the service began in 1940, with July 2020 setting the record for the hottest month ever in Oregon. This year, Governor Brown has already declared the state’s first drought emergency in Klamath County—a month earlier than any drought declaration last year—citing low snowpack and streamflow numbers in prediction for another dry year. Read more »

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