Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

Pre-emissions means premium prices on John Deere

Instead of the usual a.m. news this morning I watched a farm report and one of the sponsors was a used equipment dealer that mentioned the high prices that pre-emissions tractors were bringing at auction. Here are some of the models listed by the dealer. Of course I’m not familiar with the cost of farm tractors new or used but the prices here seem high.

I was curious as to whether the later emissions models were unreliable or to expensive to maintain?

Yes, both. This is a significant problem in off-road diesel vehicles. Tier 4 emissions are very tough to meet with diesel engines.

I read about this several years ago. To meet emissions requires urea injection, particulate filters, a catalyst and modern direct injection technology. All expensive and all difficult to service… As an example, an airport tug’s engine would go from $6500 in cost to $20,000 for a diesel with all this equipment. A gas engine with closed loop control and a catalyst was $4500 but last about 1/3 as long as the diesel. But 3x$45K is cheaper than $20K even with the labor to R&R the engine. Same problem with forklifts, tractors, stationary generators and every other off-road engines of significant size.

Farm equipment is insanely expensive. You can easily drop more than half a million on a combine. A new equivalent to the ones you posted would probably start in the $65k range.

Something to think about the next time you drive past a farm - if the farmer sold just his wheeled equipment, he could probably buy himself a Veyron or two.

I think there are many factors at play. The price of a new tractor is insane! Is that due to emissions or technology? There is a great debate. The other issue at play is a new tractor is loaded with so much technology and the tractor manufactures refuse to allow the owners the ability to diagnose the issues and fix them themselves that many of the farmers have strayed away. They have self driving features and so many redundant safety features that one small issue will prevent the small farmer from getting his crops put up before the rain comes in.

Your link to the 4440 JD. An equivalent new tractor of that size and capacity would likely cost $70-100K. The big advantage of something like the 4440 over a modern tractor is the farmer can fix the 4440 him/herself in the field without having to wait on JD for a service call.

Even the tractor models before the 4440 are demanding high prices and are still used in the fields for many smaller operations. The 4020 is one of the most reliable old tractors that are really simple to fix. These were produced from 1964-late 70’s. For a rebuilt 4020, I have seen prices range from $12K - $25K.

I have a 1964 3020 propane that I use around my place. I am not plowing fields or putting up crops. I use mine to pull a 10’ brush hog, feed cows/horses, doze brush, level driveway. I made many attachments to do a lot of the heavy work around the house. I have a forklift attachment that I made, boom pole, pile driver, hydraulic wire roller and unroller, tree pulling jaws, hydraulic clam bucket for dragging cut trees… Its an old tractor that will hopefully be in operation for the next 53 years. There is no computer and it is as basic and simple as possible. It has been modernized with a GM style alternator.

I agree. For a starting out farmer, you could easily spend $100K for good used equipment. Another insanely expensive item is new fencing. Those miles of fencing along the road will cost the farmer about $1.50 per foot in just materials. I just fenced in less than 10 acres which cost about $4,000 in materials and countless weekends of my labor.

A few years ago I read an article about farmers with combines that do their own farms and then hit the road to sell harvesting services to other farmers that need it at othe times. The one highlighted in the article went from Texas to Minnesota.

I can’t blame them. But what an undertaking - I usually see combines being transported with the wheels off because otherwise they’re too wide for the roads.

Self-driving tractors are coming…

They’re already mostly here and have been for years. There’s a reason tractors come with TVs and DVD players - the farmer often has nothing to do except turn the tractor around at the end of each row. The GPS drives it in the field itself, and also continuously varies how much of whatever is being applied gets put down based on a highly granular analysis of the field itself.

1 Like

Still a pretty big step though, like going from a Tesla on ‘autopilot’ to a car with no steering wheel. Or an airplane with no pilot.

1 Like

Its the perfect place to perfect these technologies. Worst case scenario, is you run into a fence or tree. The only person really in harms way is the farmer that is texting while harvesting.

John Deere (I’m sure all the major ag manufactures also) have GPS mapping where they will program your tractor to run your field in the most efficient manner. This will reduce fuel, reduce fertilizer, reduce weed spray, and reduce time, which all results in higher yields. I get it but it is priced out of the market for any smaller operation. You are going to need a lot more than 160 acres to ever take advantage of this.

Modern tractors are more like a fighter jet cockpit than a traditional tractor.

1 Like

This is no different than anyone with specialized services. Not all doctors offices have a CT scanner because the cost is so great. They send you to the imagining facility. Combines and other massive machines are the same. You need these expensive machines to run as much a possible. This has not changed since the steam tractor and the threshing machine. Steam tractors were expensive and they would steam down the road from farm to farm and keep these units running for as long as possible.

1 Like

60 minutes did an article on them almost a decade ago. And farmers LOVE them. They actually save them money in the long run. With GPS computer controlled plowing and harvesting it tracks the most efficient way to move the tractor - saving on gas and time.

Maybe not very suitable for the small farmer, but for the large mega-farms they said the equipment pays for itself in just a few years.

This was inevitable. Large farm equipment is already driven by precise GPS-based programs that determine the most efficient paths to work the fields, with the operator along overseeing the equipment. As computers become smarter and smarter, and more and more able to take intelligent actions in dealing with unanticipated problems, the operators will become less and less necessary.

I hate to see it happen, because I have only the utmost respect for those who work the fields, but in a world becoming more and more automated it’s going to happen.

One of the biggest points of contention with the new generation of tractors is who actually owns the tractor and “right to repair” issues when it comes to computer software.

WOW. If the manufacturer’s get their way, this could be applied to cars, and just about every appliance we “own” (have possession of), specially PCs, phones, cameras…

I foresee a free market solution to this dilemma. What if Case, International Harvester, or even Toyota introduced a line of tractors “that you actually own” and made that a selling point.
Did we really think the Japanese would make only tiny economy cars forever? Why should we think that Kubota would limit itself to the small tractor market in the future.

In effect it’s already happening. There are lots of problems for which you need a factory scan tool. Even bleeding the brakes on some cars requires a factory tool to cycle the ABS module. So while they don’t have language saying you are legally obligated to take the car to them for repair, for all practical purposes you’re still obligated to do it if you want the car repaired.

So today farmers are becoming share-croppers to GMO seed companies and John Deere.

1 Like

You can always farm like the Amish.

1 Like