Tractors and Combines and Drones, Oh My!

Our third trip was to the faraway land of Middletown, DE to visit the Hoober Farm Equipment store. Hoober is a company that sells and services all types of agricultural equipment, from planters to harvesters and everything in between. The tour started inside of the store where we met Brian Lam and Dave Wharry, who gave us a brief history of the company. We learned that the company was founded in 1941 and has been run by the same family for three generations!

I had always thought that farm equipment was relatively simple – big hunks of iron that plow, plant and harvest. But as we also learned, that isn’t the case! Almost all modern farm equipment is incredibly advanced and almost entirely run by computers. Tractors and other vehicles use satellites and GPS to farm land without even needing a driver! In fact, their most used tool in equipment repair and diagnostics is a small laptop – just plug it into your tractor and it can figure out what your problem is, and how to fix it. And of course, we can’t mention technology without talking about their drones. We were lucky enough to witness a demonstration of a $10,000-dollar drone that is used for surveying areas – just create a route for the drone to fly using the computer software and watch it fly! It can take pictures of distinct types of wavelengths to survey farmland and diagnose any potential problems that a farmer may have.

Before leaving, we all got the opportunity to drive tractors and sprayers around the lot for ourselves. I must admit that I was a bit nervous driving a piece of equipment that costs more than my house, but after a bumpy start I was able to complete the track and safely park it back in the lot. But as nervous as I was, I had a ton of fun and could absolutely see myself driving one in the future!

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