Hoober Equipment began its business in 1941 in Intercourse, Pennsylvania. Currently, they are a third generation family business with locations in throughout Delmarva, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. Hoober carries agriculture equipment from many companies, especially Case IH, Kubota, and JCB. The responsibilities that the Hoober team have are quite extensive and are not taken lightly for each employee knows that the quality of their repairs and products impact their reputation heavily. They definitely uphold their core values of integrity, teamwork and service.
Their advanced precision agriculture technology is impressive to say the least. When we were informed of the 250 thousand to well over 400 thousand dollar price of the machinery, it wasn’t easy to understand how and why people were willing to pay so much for these vehicles. Initially, I believed the size of the vehicles had to be part of the high price but, when I was explained how much these vehicles do, it was much clearer as to the importance and contribution each vehicle makes to aid in the agriculture industry. As we were going through the facility, we encountered the many different workers and observed how each did their part. Just like the equipment they provide, they work together like a finely tuned machine.
Although I wasn’t able to go on the field trip due to prior arrangements, I was still able to learn a bit about Hoober from friends in the class. Hoobers has multiple branches, but the one I will be focusing on is the one in Middletown, DE. From their website they say, “Since 1941, the focus at Hoober has been on maximizing our customers’ productivity. From new and used equipment from proven leaders like Case IH, Kubota, JCB and more, to delivering exceptional service and parts support to keep your equipment running at peak performance, Hoober is there for agricultural, light construction, excavation and rural homeowner customers throughout the mid-Atlantic region”.
At Hoober, you can buy equipment, replacement parts, and get help from the people at Hoober. They also focus on precision agriculture, which is a topic that we have been discussing in class. They even provide support for those interested in starting to use precision agriculture. Hoober also sells equipment for construction purposes, but they mostly sell larger pieces of equipment like tractors.
On Saturday October 12th the class took a trip to Hoober equipment in in Middletown, Delaware. We got a tour around the place starting with their office. in the office we see an entire wall of binders for manuals for different pieces of equipment dating all the way back to the 50’s. Then we got to go into the repair shop and see many different pieces of equipment up close and taken apart. we saw many different pieces of equipment such as combines and tractors. after touring around the repair shop we were taken outside where saw a large planter close up. later we were given the option to ride in three different large tractors. It was fun to get into such a large vehicle and drive it around. Finally we returned to the shop and were offered a free hat. In the end it was cool to see so many large pieces of equipment up close and learn about some of the mechanics of them.
Hoobers a third-generation family owned business that is essentially a mechanic shop but for large farming equipment. They gave us a tour of the facility, where we got to see tractors, combines, planters, and sprayers. Combines in particular are absolutely ginormous – one tire is taller than me. We talked about the different attachments you put on the front to harvest different crops. We got to see some farming equipment currently taken apart because it was in the process of being fixed. They showed us their main office and there were books and binders a plenty- they had manuals dating back 50 years and claimed that even the old ones get used on the regular.
Hoobers doesn’t just fix and sell to farmers, they also sell equipment for construction purposes. We saw a Quadtrac, which moves sand for things like dune building and beach reclamation. The advantages of the Quadtrac is that it can move more sand than a bulldozer and a dump truck could do, and that the Quadtrac is relatively fast. It can drive on a road unlike a bulldozer, which would have to be loaded on a truck.
I knew that farming equipment was big- I didn’t realize how big. I knew that farming equipment was expensive- I didn’t realize how expensive. The combine alone was about half a million, but it needs the attachments too so together it can be three quarters of a million dollars. That’s more than a house which is crazy.
“You have to know what it does, to fix it and make it go” (Dave Wary). Dave Wary, service technician and sales representative of Hoobers Inc., informed the University of Delaware students about Hoobers Inc. through giving a small lecture about the operation as well as giving a tour of Hoobers Inc. and the different equipment they sell and are currently fixing. Hoobers Inc, unlike many equipment companies, began in the mid-19th century when the 1st generation, Charles Hoober, signed an agreement to sell International Harvester farm equipment in Intercourse, Pennsylvania and started a business in that same year; which later caused him to open the Hoobers & Son Farm Equipment in 1956. With the start of the operation from the first generation, over time the family has continued to grow and expand the business and operate in various locations such as, Middletown, Maryland and Seaford, Delaware and sell and fix equipment such as, lawn mowers, sprayers, combines, and other tractors, and consult farmers, on equipment that the students were able to see today. Essentially, with the Hoobers operation, selling, consulting farmers and servicing equipment, farmers and producers are able to contact the operation on a piece of equipment when it breaks down or has issues before or during planting season, and is able to speak to a specialist who will guide them on how to operate the equipment or will go out to the field to fix the equipment the producer is having issues with. Essentially allowing farmers to get the service they need to operate and continue there work again.
With seeing and learning about the equipment and different services Hoobers Inc provides, Dave Wary allowed the students operate the sprayer, planter, and spiker which allowed the students and myself to experience the equipment farmers use and Hoober consults and fixes which essentially allowed myself and the other students to learn part of a new skill set, broaden our understanding of the agriculture industry in terms of precision ag and the equipment that is used within it; and learn a something that grabbed my interest which is that there is a lot of specifics in building a piece of an equipment, thus to build it, takes a lot of skill set, knowledge and labor to create something to allow farmers to have a more efficient way of producing a product.
Our trip to the organic Coleman chicken farm introduced me to a lot of technology new to me but what interested me the most was the new in-vessel composting system implemented at the farm named the ecodrum. The Ecodrum was a large black corrosion-free polyethylene cylinder that sat upon long rollers that would periodically rotate the composting vessel. At Georgie’s farm the Ecodrum was used to compost chicken mortality which was added along with pine shavings into the machine, after that the entire process is managed by an automated control system. This new innovation has not only cut back on the manpower required to compost dead chickens but it has done it in a way that reduces odor to a minimum. This technology is being widely implemented on poultry farms in Arizona but the unit at the Cartanza farm that we saw was the only one in Delaware.
I really enjoyed Mr. Mayonado’s lecture he gave on 11-12-18. He talked about Monsanto being bought by Bayer and how it was weird for him after working for Monsanto for 30 years but that it ultimately needed to happen. I learned that mergers happen to make the world more efficient meaning that more product can be produced while also saving money. It reminded me of my agricultural economic classes; if country A can make something for cheaper than country B and country B can make a different product for cheaper than country A, the two countries will trade those products and won’t spend extra money trying to produce it themselves. Monsanto is a huge seed breeding company that uses genetic technology to get the traits they want. I always thought that after I got my PhD that I would want to work for a company like Monsanto and after this guest lecture I definitely want to.
Dave Mavonado came to speak to the class about Industry and Academia in Agriculture and how much it has evolved since it all started. The main thing that he talked about was how much the agricultural business has changed and developed over the last century. The reason why it has changed so drastically was because of the four topics Dave spoke about: labor, mechanics, chemical usage, and biotechnology. Back in the day, it was all hands on deck. Farmers mainly relied on the use of animals for labor. Such as pulling plows. There would also be groups of people in the fields harvesting the produce by hand because they didn’t have combines or tractors like we do today. It wasn’t up until steel came about that helped the agricultural industry evolve the way it did. Tractors slowly started making its way into the business and helped the farmers produce a higher yield of crops because they were able to get through everything much faster. Next was the use of chemicals. This allowed protection of the plants to repel itself from pests that might damage or kill the crop. Finally, biotechnology. With biotechnology we are able to produce a much higher yield in a shorter time frame without harming the produce like GMO’s. There’s also CRISPR which allows scientists to take a certain gene out of the plants DNA and make it better so the farmer can produce more.
Dave also talked about the different grants that were and still are available today. The Morrill Acts of 1862 and 1890 established the raising of funds to create land-grant colleges. The Morrill Acts mission was to take kids who did not know a thing about agriculture and teach them about practical agriculture, science, and engineering. But in order for kids to learn about agriculture they needed the land. Hatch Act of 1887 lead to the creation of agriculture experiment stations to be affiliated with the land grants. If it wasn’t for these grants who knows what the agricultural industry would be like today.
This past Saturday we had our final field trip which was located here at the UD farm and hosted by the farm superintendent Scott Hopkins. Even though it was a little cold and the wind was blowing it was still a nice day. Being a Pre-Vet major, I’ve had a couple classes on the farm such as the ANFS 111 lab and Organic and Sustainable Farming so I knew most about the farm but it stills amazes me that every time I step foot on it there’s always something learn. For example, last year I volunteered to help Larry Armstrong the Webb Farm Manager in vaccinating the ewe’s and help with the ultrasounds The farm is consisted of over 350 acres of land which is home to different types of animals such as Black Angus beef cattle, Holstein dairy cattle that get milked twice a day, Dorset sheep (which is my favorite), several varieties of chickens, bees, and seven horses. And even a field with hops for beer! On most Fridays there is a tent set up by the organic green houses that sells fresh produce to everyone including students plus the UDairy Creamery where you can buy more than just ice cream.
My favorite part about the farm is how hands on it is. Like during the ANFS 111 lab we get the opportunity to milk the cattle, trim the sheep’s hooves and have the ability to interact with the horses. The day of the field trip, Black Angus beef cows were loud but that was because they were separated from their young who are being weaned off the milk. The best part I like is that UD doesn’t just interact with itself. They have partnerships with other universities such as Rutgers (New Brunswick). For instance, when the dairy cows give birth UD keeps the bull calf for so long and then they ship them to Rutgers for research. UD and Rutgers share the cattle more or less to say which is pretty cool. There is so many career and research opportunities on the farm. If you talk to the right people you are able to be put on a wait list to be able to work with the animals although it is hard to schedule a break time within your normal class schedule to work on the farm but its most definitely worth trying. Also a huge thank you to Dr. Isaacs for treating everyone to ice cream and to Max as well for putting a performance on playing his fiddle!
On Saturday, October 20th we visited the Hoober shop in Middletown, DE. The day was full of learning, and receiving experience many of us have never had. First, we learned about the company, including it’s history and services. After understanding what the company provided, we toured the facilities and saw the shop. Tractors and spreader were being worked on, and we also looked at some combine and harvesters. While all of this was great, the best part of the day was riding the tractor/sprayer. It was intimidating at first, but once you got the hang of it, it was smooth sailing. We also learned about drone usage in agriculture, which actual requires a state permit to operate. Overall, the day was filled with fun and learning, and each student gained a valuable experience in precision ag.
The Hoober’s Equipment field trip was definitely the most interesting field trip for me so far. Being able to see how a lot of the farm equipment operates and some of the technology behind the equipment was remarkable. The most surprising part was how much the equipment costs, with a new Case IH combine coming in around half a million dollars. It was also cool to see the drone technology and how it is used. The small drone that was demonstrated had the ability to track and follow the farm equipment and to actually get close enough to the ground to be able to count plants for the farmer. Driving the sprayer was fun as well. With all of the technology, like the auto steer technology that uses GPS, it was surprisingly easy. The gentlemen that showed us around Hoober’s both stated that their favorite part of the job was being able to get out and assist farmers, specifically during planting season, which I can relate to because it gets them out and hands on instead of answering phone calls.
On Saturday October 20th October 2018 we toured a Hoober shop. When we first arrived I was blown away by the variety of equipment they sold. I thought they only sold what I imagined were tractors. However, that was only a small part of what they sold. We began the tour by looking around what they had on display in the shop. While we did this we were being given a brief history of the company. Shortly after this we went outside to see the much bigger tractors that they had but could not fit inside. This is when my mind was blown for a second time. The size of these tractors was extremely massive. At first I found the size to be intimidating, but then they said they would be able to drive these massive vehicles. The controls were somewhat counterintuitive to driving a car because you do not use your feet for the most part. Once I got the hang of it I had a blast. This turned out to be a very fascinating trip.
I am really glad I had the opportunity to be exposed to and drive important machinery used in the agricultural industry. Since I grew up in a suburb not too far outside of New York City I haven’t been around farm equipment for a substantial part of my childhood. I am constantly being impressed by the knowledge of people I’m surrounded by. I was also impressed by the fact that the tractors are able to be programmed so they can self-steer themselves. I also felt a strong sense of community while being at Hoober, Inc. Especially when learning about how the company handles customer service. Unlike some bigger companies, you have the opportunity to get to know the support team on a more personal level. It is important for farmers to get their machinery fixed fast, so they can get back to what needs to be done. Customer support is so important, especially as precision agriculture continues to be become more advanced.
On Saturday October 20th, 2018 we went on a trip to Hoober’s company in which we got to learn more about the company and precision agriculture. While there they talked about precision agriculture and its uses in agriculture. They also mentioned how it helps get things done faster for farmers. After they talked to us about the company they gave us a tour of the place. While walking around we got to see new tractors, combines and a drone. During the walk they pointed out different things about the equipment and mentioned how it is designed better than the way it used to be designed. In the combine for example there are less chains going through it to move everything so it runs better. Now it uses hydraulics to move everything. This has made repairs easier and improved the efficiency of farmer’s completing their task. The drone is useful since it is able to scout a large area of field without the farmer having to go out and walk his field. This helps the farmer see how much damage was done to a field due to flooding from rain and how much of his field is still good. It was also fun getting to drive a tractor for the first time. It was different but easy due to the explanation the workers gave of operating it. It was a good learning experience about precision agriculture and a way to see changes to the machines.
I’m very sad to have missed this field trip, because I really wanted to drive a tractor! The only experience I have driving equipment that Hoober sells is our zero turn lawn mower we own at home, and smaller tractor I use to do the barn chores. From the album online, I was able to see just how big those tractors are. From the video we watched in class, I got a taste for what precision Ag is, and I think it’s fascinating that this technology is available to us. I also think the use of drones for surveying is a great application of the technology. The only thing that scares me is just how reliant we’re becoming on technology. When I think of driving a vehicle, it’s hard to imagine the functions being almost entirely automatic. Knowing your precise location, speed, efficiency, etc. is very impressive for a computer to do, but what if something goes wrong?
An important takeaway for me is advocacy and education about this type of technology. There are immense opportunities for experts in the tech field to grasp onto and be the people who take this technology into the future. It’s extremely important that people start to become educated about where this industry is heading, and we need those innovative thinkers to help guide us in the right direction.