By Patrick Meagher
ALFRED An Ontario farmer, who declined to be identified, was so fed up with the breakdowns in his new precision planting technology that he traded in the tractor.
But his case appears extreme. Technology is rapidly increasing in the combine and, while not all high-tech dealers have trained technicians that are available at the drop of a hat, few farmers are cursing their in-cab computerized gadgets.
OMAFRAs farmstead optimization and safety engineer, Terrence Sauve, has been around for six years to mediate complaints from farmers about precision agriculture; the new high-tech stuff like the GPS precision planters. But he said he only received his first complaint in 2013. Last year there were two complaints, said Sauve, based at Alfred College, the French-language ag college east of Ottawa.
One complaint was from Eastern Ontario and involved a steering system connection issue and was resolved in 24 hours, he said. The second complaint, from Southwestern Ontario, involved the same farmer who complained in 2013. His issues are numerous and ongoing, Sauve said.
Farmers have some legal protection if things go wrong, Sauve said. Manufacturers have 24-hour tech support and as long as you can multi-task while sometimes waiting up to 30 minutes on the phone to get through, your problems should be resolved within one day.
For equipment issues, the 1990 Farm Implements Act kicks in. Here are three key features:
Equipment failure under warranty that is not fixed in 14 working days can be returned to the seller.
For equipment not under warranty, the seller has three days to replace “an emergency repair part” or provide a replacement tractor at half the rental price.
If an issue is not resolved, it goes to Sauve who mediates a resolution. If not resolved, Sauve can kick the issue to the agriculture appeals tribunal or advise the farmer to go to small claims court. Small claims court handles all matters under $25,000.
Sauve said that he has never had to send a precision agriculture issue to the appeals tribunal or advise a farmer to make a claim at small claims court.
“Of the thousands of pieces of equipment out there, only two farmers have ever complained (about precision agriculture),” Sauve said. “Its not a big problem.”
If you have a high-tech issue you can call Sauve at 613-679-4703 or at 877-424-1300. You can also file a complaint at 519-826-4049.