Big Iron – From Farm Equipment to a Celebration of Rural Living

Old Glory flies high above Big Iron 2013

West Fargo, ND

The area around Fargo, North Dakota is predominantly rural even though the hub cities of Fargo and her sister city, Moorhead, Minnesota are decidedly urban in culture. Agribusiness is a major component of the area economy and one of the major annual attractions for agribusiness is a trade show known as Big Iron. Since 1980, every September, the three-day show attracts visitors from all over the world. From its beginnings in the little town of Casselton, North Dakota to the 800-plus exhibitors featured at the Red River Valley Fairgrounds, the show has grown exponentially.

My career in education and information technology probably couldn’t have been further from the agribusiness industry, so in previous years, I noted the coming and going of Big Iron every September with only a passing glance. After all, mid-September is an educator’s busiest time, with school just getting started and a year’s worth of work to accomplish.

A mid-20th century tractor on display. The earliest tractors were steam powered though gasoline powered tractors were around in the last decade of the 19th century.

Now that I am retired, the hustle and bustle of daily school life is behind me. I decided to take a stroll through the Red River Valley Fairgrounds to look at some of the exhibits and equipment at Big Iron 2013. In many of the shots, I purposely included people to help readers visualize the sheer size of the equipment.

Early 21st century tractors can easily cost over $100,000 USD. This unit likely tops $200,000 USD.

Though this post focuses on modern farm equipment, “Big Iron”, exhibitors displayed all manner of products and services for life in rural communities. From equipment that can be controlled with an iPad and GPS navigation to health and wellness, Big Iron has grown far beyond just a farm implement show.

Note on the photography: For all of my previous blog posts, I did my photo post processing in Photoshop Elements. I recently acquired Lightroom 5, and this project is my training vehicle. All post processing, such as it is, was completed in Adobe Lightroom. Hopefully my skills will improve with time and experience. In any case, I submit for your entertainment a gallery of photos taken on the second day of Big Iron 2013.

Note: Thanks to my nephew, an Iowa farmer, who provided input and information regarding some of the equipment photographed here.

John Steiner

A self-propelled sprayer.

Seeder – Tank holds the seeds, Seeder (in front) distributes them.

The seeder and tank need to be pulled along by a tractor. This John Deere unit would probably suffice.

Combines similar to this Case IH model can top $500,000 USD.

Inside a modern combine it’s all pushbutton and joystick control.

This unit dries the harvest prior to its being stored.
Note on this photo: I was playing with the highlights and shadows sliders in Lightroom 5 and came upon a combination that made this photo appear to be an elaborate sketch. I shall have to experiment with these controls more.

Need to get around in those snowy or muddy fields? Here is your chariot.

Several exhibitors showed off their farm equipment toys. These mostly metal toys commanded as much as $50 USD.

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2 thoughts on “Big Iron – From Farm Equipment to a Celebration of Rural Living

  1. Those are some huge farm equipment. Around here you don’t see farm equipment quite that big, except at some large farms. They must be awful expensive to own and operate. You would have to keep a good profit on your farm to afford something like those.

    • Corporate farming is a reality for that very reason. Farms must be large to generate the revenue to pay for big iron. We continue to see it in North Dakota. Old family farmers retire, kids move to town and the farms are sold to the nearest conglomerate farmstead. So it goes.

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