PHOTO: Paulette Johnson
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January 28, 2020

It seems like tech is invading every aspect of life these days, and farming is no exception. Just check out modern high-end tractors equipped with touch screens, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi.

Sometimes I feel like farming should resist the march of technology and stay down-to-earth, literally and figuratively. A Wi-Fi connection shouldn’t be needed for planting a garden! Farming should be a chance to disconnect from devices and enjoy land and livestock.

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But sometimes my desire to multitask gets the better of me. Farmers are busy folks, and I like to take advantage of every minute in the day.

Say you’re out performing a time-consuming, repetitive farming task like mowing the lawn or cutting hay. You’re essentially just driving in circles for hours at a time.

Wouldn’t it be nice to make these large chunks of time work for you in more ways than one?


Cancel the Noise

That’s where noise-cancelling headphones can come into play. You’re probably already wearing noise-cancelling earmuffs to protect your hearing from loud engine noises (if you’re not, you should be). Why not invest in a pair with headphones built in so you can listen to music or podcasts while you work?

I took this approach with an ordinary pair of headphones last summer, listening to podcasts while watering fruit trees, pruning tree branches and repairing fences.

Now, thanks to a pair of noise-cancelling headphones, I can do the same while mowing grass or transporting manure. What’s better than listening to an entertaining podcast and learning new things while out and about getting work done on your farm?

You might be thinking, “won’t the headphone wires get in the way?”

That’s a legitimate concern. You don’t want dangling wires getting caught in something. But these concerns disappear when using wireless headphones.

If you’re techy enough, you can use Bluetooth to stream audio from your mobile device to your headphones, eliminating those pesky wires altogether.

There are two types of noise-cancelling headphones—passive and active models. Each is suited to different types of noisy environments, so a little forethought will guide you toward the best option for your needs.

Passive Noise-Cancelling Headphones

Passive noise-cancelling headphones are essentially just noise-cancelling earmuffs with speakers built in.

They work by tightly enclosing your ears with sound-blocking materials such as foam. They’re ideal for protecting your hearing from random loud noises, particularly high-frequency sounds—gunshots, for example.

They’re less effective for blocking out low-frequency sounds, such as the roar of a lawn mower engine.

Active Noise-Cancelling Headphones

Active noise-cancelling headphones use tiny microphones to analyze the noise around you and output precisely the opposite. It’s a remarkable bit of scientific magic that cancels out noise and leaves you in quiet comfort.

Active noise-cancelling headphones are thus the design of choice for cancelling the constant, unchanging hum from an engine—a blessing for farmers! They’re so effective at reducing this type of noise, you can listen to audio at a lower volume than with passive noise-cancelling headphones, which has long-term benefits for your hearing.

But since active noise-cancelling technology requires analyzing soundwaves to determine the appropriate noise-cancelling output, these headphones need a bit of time to warm up and can’t protect you as efficiently against sudden loud noises.

Regardless of whether you choose an active or passive model, noise-cancelling headphones can simultaneously protect your hearing and provide entertainment when tackling repetitive farming tasks. It’s a win-win situation!

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