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There are tractors and then there are TRACTORS! This is a story about the latter!

Growing up, I always heard that tractors are very easy to drive. Needless to say, I can’t recall ever sitting in the driver’s seat, much less drive a tractor. On a cold wet evening at the Rogers farm that was about to change or, so I thought. Mr. Rogers was gracious enough to introduce us to his new tractor and offered to take each of us on a test drive.

Having climbed into the tractor and sat in the driver’s seat, I was pleasantly surprised by all the controls and screens in front of me. This was unlike any tractor I had ever seen. It felt more like a command center than a tractor if you ask me.  After all, this tractor could drive itself. Knight Rider came to mind!

After Mr. Roger’s turned the tractor around, he gave me a crash course on what to do. This was a state-of-the-art piece of equipment and perhaps he should not trust me to be anywhere close to it. As the tractor took off and I activated the GPS, it felt weird turning over control, especially when it was dark and wet. This was not your typical cruise control and even that I have a hard time relinquishing control. What was even scarier was that the tractor would waggle profusely when the GPS was in charge. I was honestly worried that it would run off the road and I would be “that guy” for the rest of VALOR IV. However, after a few nervous moments I got accustomed to the movements, or at least that is what I wanted to believe.

That this tractor with all its bells and whistles would help improve yields and protect the environment was great news. Using precision agriculture to apply inputs, this tractor would ensure that the right amount of chemicals and fertilizer are applied directly to each plant. This would help limit point source pollution while ensuring that the plant got the required treatment and nutrients. With GPS onboard, it would also allow the farmer to spend less time concentrating on driving and more time doing other stuff like reading GQ.

What amazed me is the level of computerization in the tractor. Moreover, I was very impressed that Mr. Rogers was so technologically savvy. After all, he did confess that he doesn’t text! Yet, he knows how to operate this tractor seamlessly. At the end of the short trip, I can honestly say I sat in the driver’s seat of a tractor. However, it would be hard for me to say I drove a tractor since it more or less drove itself. Whoever said driving a tractor is easy was certainly not talking about this tractor.

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