Beginning with the End in Mind

- Tamra Boucher

The equipment needs of the seed and agriculture research industry are similar, yet different from the equipment needs of the production agriculture industry.

Both sectors need equipment that they can count on to operate efficiently in the adverse conditions and challenging timelines that come along with food production. But in the research industry, we need for our equipment to be easily transportable, to provide consistent data, and to provide quality samples.

So how do we go about achieving equipment which can do this? Simple — we begin with the end in mind. We look at the needs of the agriculture research industry. We talk with end users. We spend time in fields watching equipment operate. And we study production equipment.

Production equipment is focused on speed — get the most work done in the least amount of time. Thus, the sheer mass of production farming equipment on the market. Research equipment must also get the most work done in the least amount of time, but it must also be performing the work of research at the same time. Plant the seeds, then record the data. Harvest the grain, collect the data. Thresh the plant, deliver a clean sample which is not damaged.

Purposeful engineering is the basis for developing equipment which accomplishes these objectives. And for that purposeful engineering to occur, the people designing the equipment must have a thorough understanding of the challenges faced by the research community. Those challenges are not the same as those faced by production agriculture.

In my job, I have the pleasure of learning from the research community, and then being able to respond to those needs by providing solutions that help those very people. I am fortunate, because the research community is one that tends to be very good at articulating its needs and providing suggestions for solving them. Where I come in is helping to facilitate the engineering to solve those issues.

There are many areas of research, and each area requires specific and unique engineering to make the wheels turn — sometimes literally.