A new tractor often costs hundreds of thousands of dollars, but one thing not included in that price is the right to repair it…
… you also need a software key — to fix the programs that make a tractor run properly. And farmers don’t get that key.
“You’re paying for the metal, but the electronic parts, technically you don’t own it. They do,” says Kyle Schwarting, who plants and harvests fields in southeast Nebraska.
Even a used combine like his Deere S670 can cost $200,000 or $300,000. As he lifts the side panel on this giant green harvester, he explains that the engine is basically off limits.
“Maybe a gasket or something you can fix, but everything else is computer controlled and so if it breaks down I’m really in a bad spot,” Schwarting says. He has to call the dealer.
Only dealerships have the software to make those parts work, and it costs hundreds of dollars just to get a service call. Schwarting worries about being broken down in a field, waiting for a dealer to show up with a software key. If he had that key, he could likely fix the machine himself.
– From Farmers look for ways to circumbent tractor software locks by Grant Gerlock at NPR, April 9, 2017.