Then and Now: History Edition
Press & Dakotan

Then and Now: History Edition


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  • Matt Michels

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THEN & NOW: PAGE 3B PRESS & DAKOTAN n MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 25, 2017 PHOTO: DAKOTA TERRITORIAL MUSEUM Tractors have long been staples of agricultural operations (above). They replace the animal-drawn plows of the past, allowing farmers to work more land in less time. LEFT: Tractors from bygone days are still popular, as displayed by the annual Tri-State Old Iron Tractor Rides held in the Yankton area each summer. Tractors: Rolling With The Changes KELLY HERTZ/P&D Like Everything Else In Agriculture, Tractors Have Changed Greatly Through The Years, With Technology Becoming A Vital Tool BY RANDY DOCKENDORF A t this year s Riverboat Days tractor show and small engine display in Yankton, Richard Syring was inspecting a 1940 H Farmall tractor. It reminded the 82-year-old Syring, a retired mechanic from Yankton, of how far tractors and other farm machinery have advanced over the decades. When I started out, tractors had the seat and a radio. That was pretty much it for features, he said. Now, you ve got tractors that can drive themselves. You can get GPS (Global Positioning System) that gets you accurate to within inches. Today s tractors contain other features that make agriculture more efficient and cost effective, Syring said. The efficiency helps lower input costs, which can mean more profitability. In addition, today s machinery covers a large acreage in a shorter amount of time. You re getting more done with the time you spend in the field, Syring said. By requiring less labor, the larger machinery and modern features have helped fuel the move toward larger farms and operations, he added. The larger machinery and greater automation have also created a much heavier financial investment. The Riverboat Days tractor show brought back memories for many spectators. In one row, 78-year-old Don Naber of Yankton was looking at a 1941 McCormick tractor. Naber hasn t driven tractors just for field work. He has also participated in the WNAX/Tri-State Old Iron Association Tractor Ride that covers southeast South Dakota and northeast Nebraska. I ve done the ride for (all) 11 years, he said. The annual ride has become a tradition. Tractor owners bring their models not only for display but also for the chance to ride with others and to enjoy the countryside. In turn, spectators gain a glimpse and reminder of a past era. This year s ride attracted nearly 200 tractors which rode the 125mile route over the two-day run. KELLY HERTZ/P&D Some old-timer farmers might not recognize some of today s higher-end modern tractors (above), which can operate with computers and GPS. BELOW: One thing that hasn t changed is the fact that tractors still come in all shapes and sizes. KELLY HERTZ/P&D The 2017 event included participants ranging in age from 17 to 89. They came from six states, including New York and Oklahoma. Naber said he enjoys the camaraderie with fellow riders, many of them current or retired farmers. I ve been on a tractor all my life, since I was 10 years old, he said. I m 78 now, and I still enjoy driving a tractor. Machinery has changed greatly over the years, not only in features but also in the price tag, Naber said It used to be that tractors cost $1,000 in the 1940s, he said. Now, I don t know if you can get some (things) for less than $25,000. Syring has also participated in the WNAX/Tri-State Old Iron Association tractor ride. Organizers have been forced to limit the number of riders because of the event s popularity, he said. You need to register early in order to get to ride, he said. They usually have around 200 riders. The event has become a tradition for a number of reasons, Syring said. It s well organized and well run, with good food and good fellowship, he said. I ve registered for it all but one year, and I made my son-in-law drive in it that year. Antique tractor lovers are finding a fellowship where they can share their common bonds. Regional events include the Twin Rivers Old Iron Association festival in Delmont and the Menno Power Show, both held in September. There are a lot of nice tractors, Syring said. People are working to preserve the memories. Somebody has to (keep history alive), Naber said, nodding in agreement. Naber grew up on a farm near Bloomfield, Nebraska. The family raised corn and beans. He and Syring were joined at this year s Riverboat Days tractor show by 72-year-old Tom Schramm, who grew up 10 miles north of Yankton. Schramm contrasted the old tractors to the modern counterparts. He pointed to a 1965 Ford 3000. You could get something new for $3,500, he said. Now, if you could even get machinery like this, I would say it ll cost you $15,000 to $18,000. TRACTORS | PAGE 7B I m looking forward to the future, and feeling grateful for the past. (Mike Rowe) Lt. Governor Matt Michels THEN NOW
Matt Michels
Tractors: Rolling With the Changes