Those who farm appreciate the power and value of good implements and machinery. They also understand the ecological and financial damage that poor equipment can inflict. When searching for vehicles, attachments, and other apparatus, farmers do well to develop criteria upon which their selections are based. The size of the farm, the soil type/quality, financial capacity as well as crops grown and animals raised will rightfully be considered as equipment buyers formulate their purchasing priorities. In the end, the choice of implement will be based on both common standards and individual preferences. Some of the more constant guidelines are explored here.
Whether new or used, farm machinery can be hazardous to your health. Deaths and injuries on farms happen all too frequently. This is why picking equipment that conforms to the best safety specifications is paramount. Those requirements are often published by agricultural engineers through their national and regional organizations. The Society for Engineering in Agriculture is a good resource to consider.
Of course, many such standards are codified into law. Still, it helps to familiarise oneself with many of these rules when shopping, especially for older models and spare parts. For example, harvesters should possess properly designed rollover protective structures. In addition, tractors, sprayers, and similar vehicles should be outfitted with safeguards against instability from an overreaching tilt head. All in all, the buyer wants assurances that the machinery is in good working order and has all the necessary features to minimize mishaps when in the field.
Agricultural equipment is a substantial investment that a farmer at least hopes will pay for itself over time. For that sort of return, time is the operative concept. Some tractors, after all, have worked farms for multiple generations. Meanwhile, newer models are coming out with features that actually reduce the wear and tear: impregnated lubrication systems, simplified hydraulics and more durable tires, for instance. New models of planters are sporting higher-efficiency vacuums that are less taxing on hydraulic systems; variable displacement power take-off pumps that lessen the draw on tractor horsepower; and more efficient systems of seed delivery.
Older pieces may still have a lot of life left in them. Invariably, this is the result of excellent and consistent maintenance. This kind of responsible care is discerned by careful inspection:
- Do bearings move when machinery is running?
- Are there signs of wear, or breaks and fissures, visible in the belts?
- Are chains sagging when the equipment is off? Do they move smoothly when it is running?
- Are sprocket teeth sharp and moving without obstruction?
- Do oil, fuel, and air filters look aged or new?
These are a few indicators as to whether the machinery is well cared for. Regular part replacement; a consistent regime of lubricant change and replenishment; and swift repair of leaks and fractures reveal vehicles and implements that still have productive futures. Hours of usage are also a helpful gauge of hours left.
Some farm machinery loses its edge over the years if the upkeep is sporadic or non-existent. Then again, some equipment is mediocre right off the assembly line. Evaluating how well an implement or vehicle performs in the field is a serious undertaking. To be sure, a bad crop can have nothing or everything to do with planters, cultivators, and irrigation systems. Bad weather or a neighbor’s neglect of weed control can each deter a healthy harvest. Only those who operate the equipment know how well or badly it gets the job done.
Word of mouth from fellow farmers is the best barometer in terms of how well a given piece of equipment works. The information age makes obtaining feedback from a large pool of growers easier than ever. Simply typing the make and model in a reliable search engine can yield a plethora of information. While opinions may conflict over the general soundness of a farm implement, the particulars are found in the forums where users let loose with both praise and venom. Filing these evaluations away gives the shopper a strong hand when negotiating over the issue of price. Affordability, too, determines equipment purchases.
Eric Reyes is a passionate thought leader having been featured in 50 distinguished online and offline platforms. His passion and knowledge in Finance and Business made him a sought after contributor providing valuable insights to his readers. You can find him reading a book and discussing current events in his spare time.