4 Essential tips for buying used farm equipment

4 essential tips for used farm equipment

photo by PublicDomainPictures on pixabay

While I was thinking about what farming equipment I need to buy when I get my farm, something dawned on me. I have no idea what to look for when buying used to farm equipment, so I took to Twitter to ask what tips you have for buying used farm equipment.

The response I got was very welcome. My friend Lori(@AprilFuel) provided some much-needed information.

Research

The first tip that I got was research, research and more research. Research is so important is because it gives you an idea about the type of equipment you are looking at. It also helps you get an idea about what is a good price for the piece of equipment you want to buy.

You should research the make of the piece of equipment you are looking at, the age of the equipment, and the its condition. For example,  John Deere is a decent brand. What years are good years for John Deere? Those are the types of questions that you need to ask.

We know not all equipment is equal. Sometimes you will run into a situation where one piece of equipment is better than the other piece of equipment. That is why research is so important. It helps you find which makes are the best. It helps decide what age is too old, and it helps you find what condition is okay.

Questions you might ask yourself when doing research:

  • What am I going use it for?
  • What make is the best?
  • What is the best year?
  • What year(s) should you avoid?
  • What are common problems?
  • What are the repair costs if any?
  • Does it function?
  • What is the cost of replacement parts?
  • What is a good price?
  • What price is a deal?
  • What price is a rip off?

I found a very detailed website about tractors that has detailed information about tractors specifically. It is mostly information just about the specifications, but it is still helpful.

Appearance

What the tool looks like is not vital to its functionality. We all know the old expression, “you can’t judge a book by its cover.” We should apply the same to farming equipment. Just because farming equipment doesn’t look fancy and brand-new, doesn’t mean it won’t get the job done. This is particularly true if you are a new farmer. You can’t afford the fanciest equipment out there. Keep that in perspective when you’re looking at equipment

Sometimes when equipment has been outside it doesn’t look as good as it actually is. Despite the fact it has been outside,  it doesn’t mean a piece of equipment won’t work perfectly.

Evaluate

Make sure you have the aptitude to test the piece of equipment. If you don’t know how to check the piece of equipment you are looking to buy, chances are you either a need somebody to help you, or you did not do enough research. In either case, it is helpful to have a friend with you. They can be your second set of eyes to catch anything you might miss.

If what you’re looking at is a new tractor, try starting the tractor to make sure that it runs. If the tractor is not able to start, you need to decide how much work will go into the tractor to get it to work. Sometimes just by looking at the piece of equipment you can judge whether it will start or not. Sometimes all it needs is a bit of elbow grease and it will start, other times they will need a lot of hard labour.

Can you fix it

Make sure you are mechanically inclined. That is to say, can you fix a broken piece of equipment. If you are not able to fix a piece of equipment, make sure you know somebody who can. This is where community is of vital importance in farming. When you have friends you can always call on them to help you fix is equipment.

Further reading for new farmers

Do you have any other tips for new farmers when buying used farm equipment?

What is farm management?

Farm manager - farm management - what is farm managementI came across farm  management when I was researching my how to get money as a new farmer post. At first, I didn’t think it was that important. I mean as a new farmer, how much are you  managing. In reality, if you have created a business plan, you have already started managing your farm.

What is farm management?

It doesn’t need  an epic plan. It  needs a direction that you want your farm to go into. It is how to best manage the skills you have, to meet the goals you set.

It is about identifying the gaps that you have as a farm, and addressing those issues. It is about seeing what other farms are doing, and seeing if you can do it better by setting goals and measuring results.

You can take a fun approach to management. You can think about things like what are we doing? How can we do it better? What are you good at?

When you are new farmer, your management plan gives you the opportunity to sit down and check what you’re good at , and what you’re not. It allows you to  make decisions based on your strengths and weaknesses. This is an opportunity to talk to your peers about your management plan. Because you’re starting from scratch, getting a friend to look at what your plan is  important. Your peers can give you ideas about things you never thought of, and can help make your plan stronger

Questions to ask yourself about farm management:

  • What are my strengths?
  • What are my weaknesses?
  • What are the areas I am missing in my plan, and how can I fix them?
  • What is my competition doing?
  • What can I do better?
  • What are my goals?
  • What am I doing to measure results?

Farm Management Canada is also a great place for a number of topics about management.

As a young farmer, where do you start?

It’s about identifying the gaps that you have at your farm and addressing them. You need to think about your farm as a business. This is where it really comes to play. By thinking about your farm as a business, you will treat it as such, you will do things like a SWOT analysis, which helps you find strengths,weaknesses, opportunities and threats.

It’s also about setting goals. Think about using a business tactic like SMART goals. Smart goals are about setting goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely.

According to Joe Dickenson one of the most important things you can do as a young farmer when creating your management plan is, to talk to other farmers. Talking to your peers is a powerful tool. It gives you the opportunity to check your plan. You will get different perspectives, new ideas, and a second set of eyes. This is another reason community and farming go together.

When it is all said and done, it boils down to having direction. As a new farmer, if you have made your business plan, you should already have an idea about where you want to take your farm.

Does every farm need a farm management plan?

Not every farm needs to have a management plan written in stone, but every farm needs to have some sort of plan.  As I mentioned before, having direction is important. You don’t have to have your whole plan down on paper, but if you do, it shows you exactly where you want to be.

As a new farmer, you’ll need direction. Because you are starting your farm from scratch, knowing the direction for the plan is very important.

Let me reiterate, not every farm needs a plan written in stone. All you need to have is a direction that you are heading.

Farm management on a large-scale

When you are dealing with a large-scale farm, it becomes much more important. You need to manage your staff, you need to manage what type of crops to choose, you need to manage your investments, and need to manage yourself.

However, in our case we are just new farmers, so it is unlikely that you are dealing with a large-scale operation.

What do other farmers have to say

I recently had a chat with Joe Dickenson from Dickenson Farms and Lyndsey Smith from RealAgriculture.com.

I asked them the same questions I discussed here.

  1. What is farm management?
  2. As a young farmer, where do you start with farm management?
  3. Does every farm need farm management?

Here’s what they had to say:

If you can’t see the video, click here.

A couple of the organization that Joe mentioned were: Junior Farmer Association of OntarioFédération de la relève agricole du Québec, and Canadian Young Farmer’s Forum.

Measurement

One aspect that we talked about in the video was measurement. Measurement doesn’t necessarily mean you need to be crunching numbers all the time. What it really means is, having an idea about results. Think about return on investment.

Questions about measurement:

  • Did I get enough bushels per acre?
  • Did that tractor I bought perform well enough?
  • How can I improve the yield of my crops?

Thinking about the results are important. If you have direction, but you don’t measure the results, why bother with the plan.

Consider this information when you are creating your farm management plan.

Are there other things that you are going to consider when you make your plan?

Further reading for new farmers