Farm is tough this year. You’ve got bad weather, bad prices and bad policy to deal with on top of everything else that makes farming risky. But at least you don’t need a Pierre Area Preparation Tractor to clear bombs from your land.
The same day that China announced its tariff on U.S. soybeans, I was going through a box of magazine and newspaper clippings and came across an article about the Pierre APT in “Monda Machina,” an Italian farm magazine. “Monda Machina” translates to “Machinery World” in English.
I was flabbergasted.
“You mean some farmers have to clear land mines from their fields before they plant crops?” I asked.
In the U.S., we worry about the need to install tile drainage to improve the land. We complain about having to go around wetlands with big equipment. We fret about soil health; the soil organic matter level; the water infiltration rates, and populations of earthworms, microbes and fungi in the soil.
In some parts of the world, farmers apparently worry that their fields might blow up underneath them.
That’s where the Pierre APT comes in. It is an armored, remote-controlled tractor with explosion-resistant steel wheels. If a bomb goes off beneath it — not problem. Nobody gets hurt. And the tractor doesn’t get damaged.
According to the Monda Machina, the APT grew out of a line of regular agriculture tractors that date back to 1883. The article detailed all the advances in the line — automatic disengagement of rotary tiller in the 1950s, front axle steering in the 1960s, a double clutch system in the 1980s and twin steering in the 1990s.
Apparently, the tractor is used widely in the Middle East and Eastern Europe. The European Union funded testing in Croatia and Jordon recently.
“And so it is today,” the article concluded, “thanks to a machine designed not only to work the land, but to also clear the same land from any trace of ‘conflict,’ that is, to enable the land to once again give its best yields.”
You can learn more about the APT tractor at bit.ly/APTTractor.
I know this might be kind of trite “glass-half-full” type of thinking, but the next time you are feeling down about all the obstacles that have been thrown up in front of you this year, you can thank your stars that you farm in the U.S. and only have to worry about bad weather, bad prices and bad policies. You don’t have to worry about bombs. You don’t need an Pierre APT.