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Driverless Tractors are Here

CHN autonomous tractor in the fieldAmong the more newsworthy announcements at the 2016 Farm Progress Show in Boone, IA, was the introduction of the ‘autonomous tractor.’ This ‘driverless tractor’ (so-described in the popular media) affirms what most every farmer already knows: productivity-enhancing technologies like GPS and telematics (and soon artificial intelligence) is transforming production for all but the niche segment. Now the autonomous control is baked-in! CNH Industrial, parent of Case and New Holland, will offer two versions: one with a traditional cab and one that dispenses with it completely – the latter a not-too-subtle reminder that human labor has been continually displaced by technology in agriculture production for most of the last century. Much more in the CNH media kit!

Self-driving Cars? What about Tractors?

We’ve seen industry after industry ‘disrupted’ by the introduction of new technologies, with automation in particular making great inroads. Farm yields, of course, have long benefited from the substitution of machine for human labor. But did we expect to see machines driving tractors so soon? With actual ‘farmers’ out of the mix, will farming one day be reduced only to administration and management tasks?

On the Seat & In Your Head

On the Seat & In Your Head There is something about driving a tractor that is so similar to riding a motorcycle it is uncanny. Obviously it isn’t speed or that feeling of the wind in your hair. Nor is it about the physics of counter steering or leaning into a corner. But there is something there in the “non-thinking” aspect of both endeavors. When I am running the mower on the tractor, or more recently cultivating the garlic with the 861 a few months ago, I am not actively thinking about anything. I am purely in that moment. I am observing where the front wheels are, glancing over my shoulder to watch the discs cut through the earth, focusing … Continue reading

Did you receive your current Summer Issue?

The summer issue of the N-News Magazine should be in your mailbox by now. Read Robbie Tonneberger’s fond recollection of farming with his family’s 8N, Jubilee and 971, and his barn-building adventure with his beloved 1959 881. Steve Dabrowski demystifies the replacement of a steering sector gear with his illustrated how-to. And Bob Nelson waxes poetic about rediscovering his beloved childhood 1948 8N after too much time apart. And Wayne Musser takes a look at his 1954 NAA. You’ll also find reader stories, book reviews, the latest tractor trader and classifieds, and enough display ads to help you get your vintage Ford back in the field. Didn’t get your summer issue? Subscribe or renew today!

Signs of Spring

By George Blosser. Growing up on our family ranch in California, I learned to drive our family’s 2N Ford tractor at a very young age. Some 55 years later I tried to locate our original family tractor by going to its last know owner and ask, “Whatever happened to our family’s 2N?” Regrettably no one knew the answer. I gave up looking for that one and started a search for an 8N. I located one in the State of Arkansas and purchased the tractor. A restoration process was immediately started to return the tractor to its original condition, as when delivered from the factory in 1952. Today the 8N is officially retired from farm work and is used primarily as … Continue reading

American Georgics: Writings on Farming, Culture and the Land

American Geogics

Agriculture has been a touchstone of security and growth for humanity since we gave up our hunting and gathering ways. This book is a chronology of writings on agriculture, which detail the history of how we as Americans have embraced, rebuffed and re-embraced the ideas (and ideals) of agriculture and the agrarian lifestyle. $14.95.

Wisdom of the Last Farmer

Wisdom of the Last Farmer

David Mas Masumoto has authored a wonderfully touching story of a Japanese-American family in the central valley of California. Prior to farming, along with other West Coast Japanese-American families, the Masumoto family was relocated to the Arizona internment camps in the early 1940s. They endured many hardships, but eventually were able to return to California and small farming. $9.85.

Why Did the Chicken Cross the World?

Why Did The Chicken Cross the World?

Subtitled, ‘The Epic Saga of the Bird that Powers Civilization, Andrew Lawler’s has encapsulated the history of humanity through our involvement with chickens! Starting with the earliest known ancestor of the domestic chicken, the red jungle fowl, Lawler shows how the human appetite for chicken continues to grow. $11.95.

The Tractor Factor

The Tractor Factor

Again, author Robert Pripps comes through with another tractor book that you need for your shelf. Here he does an amazing job of explaining rare models of both common and uncommon manufacturers within a historic context. $27.

Thrift: Getting By & Making the Most of What You Have

Gardner Waldeier's Ford 641 under the shed

By Gardner Waldeier. Published in the Winter N-News issue Jan-Feb-March 2016, Volume 31 Number 1 Thrift. Making due with what is available is paramount these days. In taking over the 1799 farmhouse where I grew up, I’m finding no lack of ways to fill the short winter days in Maine. I built a lean-to style pole barn off the end of the house recently and did the whole project for around ten dollars. I needed a good dry place to keep my tractor and set to making that thought a reality.