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Seeding during the COVID-19 pandemic

Implement dealers are open for business while protecting staff and customers

Whether we like it or not, COVID-19 is one more thing that will be on our minds this seeding season. Hopefully, its effects will be minimal to our agricultural community. Regardless of how the pandemic plays out, seeders will still roll across the Prairies this spring. Those same machines, once rolling, will inevitably break down and need to be repaired. What will parts and service availability look like in these uncertain times? Prairie provinces have been unanimous in keeping essential businesses, like agriculture, open and their necessary supply chains running.

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Implement dealers across the Prairies have also been quick with their response. “We want to help as much as possible,” says Martin Raupers, service operations manager for AgWest Ltd. in Manitoba, whose plan is as always to keep machines moving this spring. The business will still be offering in-shop and call-out service. Precautions are being taken to protect customers and employees alike. AgWest has implemented a rigorous glove safety policy for their technicians and has taken additional precautions like propping open doors at their facilities to minimize personal contact.

Jim Wood, chief sales and operations officer for Rocky Mountain Equipment says the same thing. Stores will remain open, parts will be available, machines will be fixed. However, all of this will be dependent on keeping staff safe. The company has limited branch-to-branch travel for employees, as well as increased the cleaning protocol within their locations, especially in high-traffic areas.

Most dealerships are offering curbside parts pickup. It’s also better if customers stay out of stores as much as possible and to limit those visits to essential business only. Additionally, it’s not the best time to go kick tires in showrooms.

If a call-out is needed, farmers should try to keep their distances from technicians and mechanics who may be working on machinery. Try to wipe down and disinfect surfaces before and after service personnel work on equipment, particularly monitors and armrest controls and anything that is constantly being touched or in close quarters with operators.

Furthermore, information and policy may change quickly as the pandemic and seeding take their course. Check in with your local parts and service suppliers regularly online or over the phone to remain up to date about business hours, practices and policies. Help keep yourself and others safe so we can all keep laying down acres this spring.

About the author

Machinery Editor

Travis Warkentin

Travis Warkentin joined the Grainews team as machinery editor in 2020. Operating from his home in Landmark, Man., Travis works with agricultural equipment on a daily basis in his role as a farm manager. Writing for Grainews allows him to share his lifelong interest in farm machinery and “talking shop” with other farmers. He understands and improves the machines he operates, and is himself a fabricator. If Travis doesn’t know how something works, he will soon, and then he’ll likely know how it could work better. Travis is motivated by the notion that farm machinery and technology need to make sense and have the best interest of the farm in mind. Find him on Twitter @trav_grainews and Instagram at trav_grainews, or email him at [email protected]

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