The Planted Row: Keeping what works, embracing the new

In the 70s, my dad and grandfather bought new tractors, a new combine, and other new equipment for the family farm, but most of that equipment was sold off in the mid-80s when the farm downsized. So the majority of my time on the farm was spent working with increasingly antique equipment. The old John Deere 3010 that I learned to drive on is still on the farm doing work. The old disc and do-all (what folks on the Northern Plains probably call a finishing harrow or seedbed finisher), both older than I am, are still there for the occasional field planted to a crop that can’t be grown no-till. I think the air compressor in our shop has been around since my dad was a teenager. My great-grandfather’s old John Deere plow, once pulled behind a mule, is still used (pulled behind a garden tractor now) to unearth potatoes.

Chances are your operation has a piece of equipment still in use that’s 40 or 50 years old. It might be a trailer or a cultivator or a tractor. Though there are newer models with more bells and whistles, it hasn’t been replaced. It was designed well, and it still performs its task well.

The print edition of the Farm Forum is just such a tool. Ink on paper — technology more than a thousand years old — is still reliably delivering information to your door or your favorite place to drink coffee. It’s a beloved product. People love it the way I love that old 3010. One reader requested to be buried with a copy of the Farm Forum. Another reader called and told me that the Farm Forum nearly caused a divorce in his family because when the paper arrived every week, he sat down and read it cover to cover without speaking to his wife.

Readers recognize the Green Sheet, and when we occasionally print a color cover, fewer readers pick it up in news stands. The reason? They don’t recognize it when it isn’t printed on green paper. Fifty years ago, the Farm Forum was printed on green paper because it was cheaper and the color green represents money to farmers. Now, the green paper is more expensive than other paper, and it is getting harder to find companies that will produce it, but we keep using it because it is an important part of our paper.

While our printed product is still working as it is supposed to, still bringing you information — news, classifieds, display ads advertising new products and sales — we realize that the future is leaving more and more of the old technology behind. More and more readers prefer to read their news online.

To meet their needs, the Farm Forum updates its website (www.farmforum.net) daily with news articles, market information, and classifieds. On Fridays, our E-Edition, which looks just like your physical printed newspaper, is published to the website. We also link to our equipment website (www.farmforumequipment.com) where users can input a single search for new and used equipment and find results from many different equipment dealers.

We also know that many users prefer to read news on their phones or tablets instead of computers. To reach those readers, we also have a free mobile app available for Apple and Android products. This app is the most-downloaded app owned by the Aberdeen News Company, and it offers most of the information that can be found on our website.

So if you think printed newspapers are too old-fashioned or for some reason you’ve misplaced your copy of the Green Sheet, just remember that you can always find us online or, if you prefer, on the phone in your pocket.

Contest winners

This week’s Farm Forum 50th anniversary cash giveaway contest winners are Gaylord Hansen of Hartford, S.D., and Amy Torgerson of Milbank, S.D. They will each receive a replica windmill, and both are eligible to win the $5,000 cash grand prize. Prizes are mailed at the end of each month.