We visited the local farm machinery and supplies store. We had a shopping list compiled by Claude Gerard – “You’ll need a tractor – a small one to begin with, eighty to one hundred horsepower.” “You have weeds in your crop – buy a sprayer and you can earn some money back by helping with weeds on other farms.” It all seemed very simple written down in my notebook! But when we saw the array of equipment available, we were at a loss to know where to begin.

We mooched around the tractors, bemused by strange model names and numbers. “I thought cars were bad…” Our musing was broken by the appearance of a tall man in grubby overalls and boots who emerged from behind a very large tractor. “Bonjour” he said in the manner of a question rather than greeting. “Can I help?” “Umm, we’re just looking at the tractors…” was my lame response. He took the lead – “Ahh! Anglais – you are from du Vieux Chêne?”, “Yes”, “Claude said I should expect you.” He smiled rubbed his hands on his overalls then shook ours – “I’m Jean Armand, call me Jean.”

It turned out that Monsieur Gerard had briefed him on our needs. “You need a small tractor – I think I have a good choice for beginner farmers.” He led us over to a small modern red tractor. “Massey-Ferguson 5S.105. Very modern tractor, easy to drive, good visibility – ideal for a novice farmer!” “Should we buy new though?” I asked. Jean smiled, “This is going to be your only tractor for a while I think, so you should buy new to keep down the repair bills. It will be going everywhere with you – even the supermarché 😉” Pre-equipped for a front loader and fitted with narrow wheels ready for crop spraying, it cost us €86,500.

Now we needed a sprayer – “I suggest one of the back-pack types like the Hardi over there – easier to store on a small farm than the ones you tow.” We wandered over to the sprayers… “If I had a one second-hand, I’d suggest that to you, but I don’t and I believe you need one now. In the circumstances I suggest either the Hardi Mega or this Kverneland iXter B” We pondered the specifications and the prices. After much deliberation we decided on the iXter B and a spread of 24m – “That’s the size most of our small farmers tend to use here…”

“Now I have a difficult choice for you.” said Jean. “You can choose to fit spot-spraying technology to the iXter – It will detect weeds and only spray herbicide when a weed is below the nozzle.” “It can really do that?” I asked. “Yes, and it works well. You can save a lot of herbicide by using the system and that means less environmental impact.” “It saves you some money each time too!” “The downside is the cost – it will double the price of your sprayer.” “But if you want to get good sustainability scores for your farm, then you should consider it. – I can fit it now ready for you to collect tomorrow or you can buy it later.” We discussed this over a cup of coffee in the office before deciding that we could afford the upgrade. “The benefits will take a while to show but I think you have made the right choice.” said Jean.

The next morning as promised Jean had everything ready for us to collect…

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…We parted company, shaking hands with Monsieur Armand. “Good luck with du Vieux Chêne and come back when you need more equipment – I’ll try to see you alright 👍”

I decided to continue in story mode, and I’ve introduced you to a second main character. In this post we’ve met the main tractor for this version of Ferme du Vieux Chêne – a bit smaller than our first tractor last time. I’m going to be playing differently this time with a lot more emphasis on hiring equipment when helping out our neighbours. View it as a demonstration, when seen alongside my original Ferme du Vieux Chêne posts, of the variability of play options for the Farming Simulator gamer😎

I’ve mentioned Precision Farming here in the form of the spot-spraying tech that I can add to the iXter B sprayer. In the past, we were often amazed by technologies that appeared in Star Trek, only to appear in reality a few years later. Often it all looked a bit far-fetched – until it was suddenly there. I was a bit sceptical about this spot-spraying technology, but it is already here in the real world! Cameras placed above each nozzle reference a database of weeds and activate the nozzle every time a recognised species is detected. Because the nozzle is only on for a brief moment in time rather than continuously, there is a significant reduction in the use of herbicides on a field where this tech is used. In game you can see the spray being switched off and on as you drive over the crop! Look at the image below and you can see that some nozzles are not spraying…

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Currently, you can only fit it to this Kverneland sprayer or one of the John Deere towed sprayers. However, I expect that community modders will be adding it as an option on their machines soon. Remember that you don’t have to activate the Precision Farming mod – If you don’t, then the spot-spraying option will not be available, but your choices and overall farming will be simpler 😉

I’m playing catch-up with this post as my farm is moving forwards quite rapidly. I will probably need to do a follow-up over the weekend to bring you fully up to the present. I may even decide what my partner’s name and gender is by then 😂