Managing a small-scale farm without sufficient equipment can be frustrating. As much as you’d love to lead a self-sufficient farm without having to tap into the heavy duty equipment and tools, having that extra help is certainly a win-win situation: it’ll give you the ability to cultivate and grow high-quality produce, fast.

While there are so many types of agriculture machinery on the market today, most are designed to transport heavy materials in large, open areas. If you just need something to get you into those tight spaces with ease, here’s some of the basic equipment you’ll need for your farming operations:

  • Compact tractor

A tractor is an essential piece of equipment for any farm. It will get you from A to B, quickly, and you’ll be able to attach several other tools to your tractor for more efficient use. A compact tractor is a must-have for any small farming business. Whether you want to mow the lawn, plough a field, cut weeds or transport feed, this powerful machine will assist you in doing the job. Bear in mind that although they’re the most important piece of equipment for any farm, without farm implements, compact tractors are pretty much useless. Make sure you have the attachments you need to accomplish an endless variety of tasks.

If your land’s terrain is flat and level, you’ll only need to look at a two-wheel drive compact tractor, however, if you’re struggling with a rocky and muddy terrain, then you should look at investing in a four-wheel drive with a little more power. The perks of these compact vehicles are that they’re easier to operate than normally sized tractors, they’re low on fuel, more affordable in price and they take up less space. Not to mention, they’re versatile in farming operations which is just what you need. A good rule of thumb is to also ensure that you have a tractor trailer to assist with the transportation of heavy goods.

  • Manure spreaders

Spreading equipment are must-have tools for farmers who are growing crops. It’s impractical to do it by hand and the time you spend doing so could be used more effectively in other farming activities. Spreaders come in handy when you need to get into tiny places, while still being able to spread your material evenly. Your manure needs to be spread across the designated area according to its weight and the land size. If you do not give your soil the right amount of nutrients, you’re reducing the amount of organic matter in the soil which will affect your crop growth. This also influences the drainage and microbial activity as well, so make sure you spread your manure evenly and slowly for the best outcome.

  • Sprayers

For effective crop production, a sprayer machine has become an essential piece of equipment for any farm owner. These machines work according to a sprayer programme, applying each crop area with the right amount of chemicals to control weeds, insects and diseases, to help give your crops an opportunity for high yields. Depending on your land area, it may be something you can do manually in the initial stages, but the bigger your production gets, the better you’d want your harvest to be. Before you decide against it, consider the frequency of spraying versus the manual time and effort.

  • Rotary cutters

Hand or mobile weeders are practical for smaller spaces, however, they can be time-consuming. Farm owners should consider a machine cutter that can connect to your compact trailer. Of course, the type of cutter you choose for your farming operations is directly related to how often you’ll be using it, but if you’re already having problems with weed infestations, make sure you find something that gets rid of them for good. You’ll be surprised at how much time and energy is wasted in manual weeding.

Final words

Your equipment essentials depend on your needs. While the above-mentioned variety might seem overwhelming at first, over time, they will all come in handy. It is highly recommended that you choose your brand and equipment partner wisely. During harvest time, time pressures are at their peak, therefore a machine needs to be reliable. While it might sound daunting, there are many agricultural financing companies that can help with your farming needs. You can also invest in used farm equipment for sale.

If you do not have any experience in farming, speak to other farmers in the area to find out more about their equipment, as you’ll be able to benefit from their advice without having to make those rookie mistakes yourself. They will give you all the farming tips you need to run a successful business.

Farm tillage is a catch-22 process: when you over-use tillage equipment on your farm, it can lead to soil disruption which could cause the soil structure to become infertile. But, if you don’t till your soil, you’re looking at unhealthy, dirty crops and soil erosion. One of the key advantages of tillage is less soil erosion, which is a big enough reason to till your soil in the beginning stages of your crop planting process.

No-tillage farming is a practice where the soil is minimally disturbed during the planting and harvesting process. When you plant your crops, holes are drilled into the soil where the seed is planted and then covered up. This method leaves ground surface intact, along with the residues from the previous crop harvest. Depending on your production size, there are many pros and cons of no-tillage farming:

Pros:

You’ll strengthen your crops: Tillage is important when there are weeds involved. Without getting rid of those weeds, you could face a weed and pest infestation which could cost you a harvest. Over time, you’ll learn to become clever with your crop planting. You can do this by covering the ground with mulch bags to keep weed seeds from spreading. When you cover your crops with mulch, it keeps the soil moist without becoming muddy. This will also provide shade to the soil and a habitat for good pests.

You’ll run machinery less often: The initial stages of crop development require you to till your soil, but over time you won’t need to use make use of tillage equipment as often. By not using your machine, it will save you plenty of money on fuel costs and time. When you mix your soil and revitalise the oxygen in the soil, you’ll start preventing erosion and guarantee healthy crops all year round.

You’ll save water: Once you’ve tilled your soil, it will leave a residue on the land which helps to reduce the evaporation of soil moisture. This also means that it will reduce the water runoff, keeping the soil moist for crop feeding. Especially for regions experiencing weather conditions such as drought, tilling the soil allows farmers to save on water in the long-term as you won’t need to irrigate those areas as often.

Your soil microbial will increase: When your soil is healthy, the organic microbes in the soil start to grow. By not disrupting your soil every few weeks, you’re giving your soil the opportunity to establish a healthy microbial community underground that regulates itself. The nutrients, water and carbon held in the soil will also benefit the health of your soil, and then, of course, help your crops grow healthily.

Cons:

You won’t get all the soil benefits: While it may seem like you will experience the benefits from tilling your soil often, you’re not giving your soil enough time to develop healthy microbial for your crops. While leaving it for long periods of time is recommended, the risk you take is worse if you leave your soil for months without attention. The bare soil will warm up faster which will then lead to soil erosion.

You’ll spend money on crop cover: When you keep covering up your crops, you’ll be surprised at how quickly the mulch bags add up. In the beginning, you might overdo it, but over time you will eventually learn the right amounts that you need to support your crops from weeds and pests.

You’ll need new equipment: Since you’ll just be leaving your crops to attend to themselves, you might need to find yourself some quality equipment to cut through the weeds, spray the pests and filter the soil. Either way, you don’t know what the result could be, so try and be prepared for any outcome.

Final words:

What works for other people’s farms might not work for yours. There are so many farming tips you need to take into consideration when deciding on your planting and harvesting processes, and the type of soil you have will be the biggest contributing factor. Before you decide for or against a specific practice, do your research and test your soil. Climate conditions also play a major role in the outcome of any crop, so speak to professionals and make sure you have a clear understanding of your needs.

As a result of environmental factors or poor crop maintenance, both decisions can be costly for your business, so do not base your farming decisions solely on the cost of the farm equipment you need to do the job. It’s about what will provide your business with the best possible outcome for your produce.

 

Keeping livestock feed fresh and uncontaminated is a constant challenge. It’s a top priority for farmers to feed their cattle the much-needed nutrients and vitamins they need, but saving money has become an essential part of the process. While feeding in a drought isn’t ideal for any farmer, having the right farm equipment to preserve your feed is the first step to reducing waste. If you’re looking for ways to overcome this challenge, without stretching your budget, here are a few farming tips to consider:

  • Store feed in a cool, dry place: Place your livestock feed in a cool place, away from direct sunlight, to preserve the long-term quality. By placing feed in a dry area with proper ventilation, you will be able to keep the feed fresher for longer and it will remain safe for animal consumption. When moisture gets into your feed, it causes mould to grow which spoils the feed. This can be harmful to feed to your cattle. If you don’t preserve your food, you’re going to have to keep topping up your feeds which could lead to over-eating and money wastage.
  • Grow your own forage: Many farmers have started farming their own livestock feed because it costs less than commercial feeds, and you can control the quality and the ingredients that you put into your own feed. Having access to your own feed, with the right ratio of ingredients, means that you could be producing less food but better quality food that is richer in nutrients for your cattle. This is also an opportunity to be self-sufficient and not have to rely on other sources to produce enough feed for your cattle. Economic and climate conditions will always cause the commercial feeds to spike in cost but decrease in quality, so it’s time to start making your own.
  • Buy grains in bulk: One of the staples in most livestock and poultry rations is corn. This high-energy feed gives animals the energy they need, however it does not give animals the right amount of protein. To prevent last-minute shuffling for feed, you should stock up on corn in bulk, so that you always have access to grains for your cattle. Remember to keep your grains in a dry storage room as they can last up to one year if preserved properly.
  • Purchase only what you need: Purchasing feed in advance can be beneficial for your budget, however, it tends to result in wasted money and feed. If you need to stock up, try not to do it more than two to three months in advance as some feeds are known to spoil faster than others. As mentioned previously, having the right ratio of ingredients means that you won’t need to be spending money on extra food. When you over-feed your livestock, you’re creating health problems for them, so make sure you have a carefully planned out feeding programme.
  • Feed needs to have accurate labels: When you purchase feed for your livestock, the label should include the correct amount and specifications for your animals. For example, the amount of food you should give to cattle of a particular age and weight. If you do not have these specifications and you continue to feed your cattle the same or even a guesstimate amount, it could be detrimental to your livestock’s health. You need to have a clear understanding of what you should be feeding your animals to get the best possible outcome.
  • Feed according to a programme: Farmers need to have a strategy around their feeding methods. The way you feed your cattle plays a major role in your budget and the amount of food that gets wasted. Depending on the size of your feed groups, it’s important to ensure that every animal gets the amount of food they need. For example, monitor the amount of food that dominant animals get, so shy animals aren’t pushed away or deprived of food. Another thing to consider is your feeding areas. Fresh, clean water must always be available alongside food, but separate from feeding as the food needs to be as dry as possible. Once there is manure, urine or water found in the food, it will start to contaminate your feed.

Final words

While it may be costly and challenging in the beginning, your livestock feeding schedules will quickly become easier to manage. You will learn how to maximise your costs, and the minute environmental factors start to influence your feeding, you will know how to plan ahead for these tough times. At the end of the day, the most important thing is to have a balanced ratio of nutrients to keep your cattle healthy.

There are many agricultural machinery dealers in South Africa and surrounds which can direct you in purchasing the right agriculture equipment to benefit your feeding programme. With high-quality resources, you’ll be able to save money and reduce feed wastage quickly and effectively.

 

Modern day farming offers business owners a wealth of equipment and farm implements to help them do the job more effectively, taking the mastery out of skills and long hours of labour. While it’s a helpful addition to any farming operation, these items can be expensive and thus need to be well-maintained.

Farming machinery and equipment advances in the blink of an eye, and farmers simply cannot live without these innovative and important business assets. They make life easier for farm owners and workers, which is one of the key reasons why you need to look after them and ensure they run smoothly at all times. Poor maintained equipment can lead to breakdowns, accidents and more.

Here are five farming tips and tricks to help extend the life of your equipment:

  • Learn more about your different machinery

Educating yourself and your farm employees about the different machinery and their specific requirements will help everyone have a clear understanding of what to look out for when a machine starts acting strangely. The more advanced a piece of equipment is, the more important it is to monitor the machine’s functions as this could help you to spot faults before they happen. Also, try and ensure that each piece of equipment has its own user so that they can become familiar with the machine. Give those employees the task of overseeing the equipment operations and checking the equipment daily.

  • Experiment with different lubricants

When it comes to doing maintenance checks, lubrication is one of the most important factors to consider. Using the right lubricants for your equipment helps to put that necessary grease and oil back into the engine. During these checks, look out for any grease build-ups or excess oil leaks. You can tell a lot about the overall functioning of your unit by the results generated from the lubrication. This will also be able to tell you whether or not you’re using the right type of liquid for your equipment make. If you’re unsure, speak to the different agricultural equipment manufacturers in South Africawho supply the equipment you own, as they will be able to give you the professional support and help that you need.

  • Keep your farming equipment clean

Cleaning your farming equipment is the first step to maintaining a healthy maintenance schedule. If you take the time to regularly clean your equipment before putting it away, you’ll be able to cut down on costly repairs. When you clean your units regularly, you’ll be able to prevent dirt build-up in moving parts which may speed up wear and tear damage too. Even if a unit is faulty, clean the equipment first so that you have a clear understanding of what needs replacing. If you’re not using a particular machine or tool, store the item safely in a sheltered area. With climate conditions being so uncertain, the hot and cold change can do major damage to your items. So, shut down equipment properly every night after use and ensure that whoever is in charge of running that unit is performing regular maintenance and cleaning checks.

  • Assess equipment for wear and tear

When you’re making use of a specific item every day, it’s important to assess the machine for wear and tear. You’ll be surprised at how quickly high temperatures, shock and friction can deteriorate parts. The most common reasons as to why wear and tear occur are from the vibration caused when the belts and gears are out of alignment, when the equipment is in an accident, when high temperatures cause friction on already worn-out parts and when the machine starts to get old. The older the machine, the more frequently you should lubricate its belts and bolts to prevent rusting and dryness in moving parts.

  • Maintain a schedule of maintenance and repairs

Keep a record of your maintenance plans to monitor how often electrical systems, tyres, fluids and tracks need to undergo maintenance or repairs. By keeping an up-to-date plan, you and your team will become familiar with the different components, and know what needs to be inspected when and where. Further maintenance tips that need to be incorporated into your plan is the regular change in filters, checking your gearboxes for vibration, lubrication or damages that may lead to future breakdowns, run regular togue checks on bolts, and do alignment checks on v-belts, pulleys and CVT transmissions. Proper storage is another important aspect of preventative maintenance. As mentioned, exposure to weather elements can lead to premature failure of your agriculture equipment.

Final words

Depending on your farming operations, there is always going to be equipment that needs special attention. In these cases, you will need to keep this machinery in top shape as they’re the driving force of your farming production. The minute these units stop working, everything stops running smoothly. Sometimes these faulty machines break down in moments when you need them most, therefore it’s important to have a preventative plan in place to avoid these situations. Make sure that you have a fully trained working force that can help you identify these challenges in advance, by means of regular maintenance and routine checks. These small tasks will save you plenty of downtime and money on repairs, increase the lifespan of your equipment and provide safer equipmentoptions for employees.

 

 

As global health regulations increase, farming practices are becoming more sustainable. Over the years, there has been much talk about grass-fed over grain-fed because of the many health benefits it holds. While both have their own farming benefits, there are a few misconceptions when it comes to the meat.

Put simply, after birth, most cows start living on their mother’s milk and pasture. They’re also allowed to roam freely and eat whatever they can find. Once they reach a certain weight, conventional farming moves cows to feedlots (also known as CAFOs or concentrated animal feeding operations), where they are fattened on a diet of corn and soy feed, and often supplemented by growth hormones and antibiotics.

This is when grass-fed becomes the alternative option.

Bigger isn’t better

Grass-fed refers to the animal’s diet. It’s the process in which cattle are allowed to graze for their food, consuming mainly grass, herbs, flowers and other legumes. Grain-fed on the other hand is a feed mixthat consists of grain, soy, corn and other supplements. While this only describes the diet, it does not refer to the grazing process or how the cattle are raised. Free-range feeding is usually the term used when cows are left to roam freely but not necessarily graze freely. With the grazing process, controlled grain-feeding is the fastest feeding alternative for mass production as the process helps to speed up slaughter time.

Despite the fact that meat production can be harmful to the environment and the animal itself, more farmers are turning to free-range, grass-fed production because it reaps a higher return on investment. In the initial phases, it’s more costly for farmers to provide the roaming space that their cattle need, but they’ve quickly realised the importance of farming and feeding in a more humane way, as it ensures that the animal is not stressed and the meat is of high-quality before slaughter. By implementing a controlled, grain-fed process where cattle are raised in factories, it fattens the cow up and causes them to release‘cortisol’ before slaughter. The release of this stress hormone leads toflavourless and tough meat quality.

Benefits of grass-fed over conventional

Here are a few farming tips you need to know about grass-fed cows:

  • Grass gives cows more nutritional value

Grain feedingis much cheaper for mass feeding and it also speeds up the process when fattening the cow quickly and effectively. This is different with a grass-fed cow as it takes much longer for them to grow in weight. The nutrients received through grass feeding also assists with their digestion of food.

  • Grass-fed beef is rich in Omega 3 fatty acids

The rich minerals and Omega 3 fatty acids in the grass make grass-fed beef healthier for human consumption. People who suffer from heart disease and low blood pressure should be consuming more of these acids in their diet. And, while the digestion of meat is often a problem for many, it is advised that you opt for grass-fed over grain-fed because the more tender meat is easily digestible.

Here are some of the benefits of increased Omega 3 consumption:

  • Omega 3 is highly effective in decreasing inflammation.
  • Assists with depression: Omega-3 fatty acids consumption can increase mental well-being.
  • Helps you to focus: Omega-3s can be a promising alternative to alleviate attention deficit disorders (ADHD) over stimulant medications.
  • Grass-fed beef is a healthier option for consumers

Since grass-fed cows are grown in a more sterile living environment, without any chemical fertilisers, hormones or antibiotics, the quality of the beef turns out to be far superior. Because it’s raised with extra care, on a clean and natural diet, these cows are also less stressed before slaughter. Not having cortisol in their bodies ensures that the meat produced has a significantly higher amount of nutrients and healthy fats compared to grain-fed cows. The meat is also filled with flavour and colour.

  • Grass-fed farming practices are better for the environment

As you can imagine, grass-fed farming is better for the environment and for the animal because the process requires less energy (due to the technology used to feed and fertilise the feed), as well as because it promotes biodiversity in soil. When cows are located in feedlots, it allows them to graze freely and stress-free, without being fed with toxic growth hormones to help them grow faster. The fertiliser used for grain-fed also affects the area’s pollution and water because the chemicals leach into the ground and surface water, significantly impacting the water quality and aquatic life.

Final words

When it comes to farming practices, there are countless studies on what is better for the animal, human and environment as a whole. While many farmers have started to dedicate their lives to producing quality meat that benefits their bottom line and makes a difference, there are also underlying factors such as soil conditions and farmland size that affect your ability to make these changes.

Over time, guidelines for cattle farming will get stricter and meat will get more expensive for consumers. Even though free-range, grass-fed beef is costly, the difference in the meat is undeniable. Not only does it save the environment but it’s better for your health. At the end of the day, choosing between grass-fed and grain-finished beef comes down to which is more important to you as a farmer.

With the latest technologies, equipment and planting techniques, there is no reason why your crops shouldn’t yield success for your farming business. When you rely on production to support your bottom line, you should be taking advantage of the below tips to maintain crop sustainability.

How has farming evolved?

High-performance,smart-farming is the future of the agriculture industry. There is a variety of techniques that can be implemented to help farmers understand their crops better, for example, the ability to analyse soil nutrients for a better outcome. But before you can make use of the latest and most advanced technologies and planting methods, you need to learn the science behind your seeds.  

With farming becoming such a competitive industry, there’s no room for climate and environmental conditions to affect harvest opportunities. As mentioned, with the right know-how on what to use and when, you will learn how to be more efficient. There are always going to be grey areas with soil fertility, but the more you’re able to cultivate the land you have, crop yields will be able to benefit your bottom line.

You will also, always, experience consequences with your farming decisions, but in order to increase crop production and yield, you will need to adjust your approach. Before you can get started on planting, you’ll need to analyse the quality of your soil and seeds, as well as your planting technique. Each type of plant requires different methods of planting, so do your research to help you to better understand your crops.

Here are a few farming tips and tricks to consider when looking to increase your crop yield:

Plant early: Looking back on previous seasons, you will be able to formalise a crop plan on when to plant. The reason for this is that you’ll be able to learn from previous failures or successes going into the new season. Before anything, you need to perform a soil test because your soil condition will directly influence the growth of your crops. Once you’ve analysed it, you’ll be able to start planting.

Practice soil rotation every season:Each crop or plant requires different soil conditions, therefore it is encouraged that you practice soil rotation each season. Often when you plant the same crops in the same area, year after year, you’re limiting the crop yield as it has proven to be less effective. Planting alternating crops in the same soil can also help to diversify the demands in the soil.

Know your seed potential:When planning your planting strategy, you cannot simply plant something and hope for the best. A negative start to the season could affect your entire harvest, so take the time to understand your field and seeds’ growth potential before going ahead. Make sure your seeds are of high-quality too. When you understand these important techniques, you will be able to manage your expectations, and it will give you a clear indication of what the end result could be for your production.

Always scout the land: While drone technology is certainly helpful when getting to know your farmlands, take the time to scout your fields by foot beforehand. This will give you a chance to assess your soil and monitor any weed conditions that could be detrimental to your crops. Without physically looking at your field and touching the ground, you might miss any red flags along the way.

Ensure proper water drainage: As you can imagine, water management is one of the essential elements of crop survival and crop success. While climate conditions may be uncertain, you need to have an irrigation system that can provide your crops with the right amount of water, as well as a drainage system to properly drain any excess water. Within saying that, make sure your systems don’t over-water your crops because this can lead to water clogging, mud build-up and salinisation in your soil.

Make use of fertilisers: As part of the process, soil cultivation is important to maintaining optimal soil conditions for your crops. Although water helps crops grow, your soil requires nutrients like potassium, phosphorus, and calcium to help increase the growth process. This process can be time-consuming without a fertiliser spreader, so ensure you have the correct equipmenton hand to make the spreading technique easier for you and more efficient in the process. 

Weed early and often:If you notice that your crops starting to become invaded by weeds, make a plan to remove them before things get out of hand. Weeds are extremely invasiveand can easily suck out the nutrients that your crops need to survive. As mentioned, in the initial phases of your planting process, you will be able to pick up any weed clues when you scout out your fields beforehand.

Final words

There are many steps that go into crop planting before you can reap the benefits and have a successful harvest. While it may sound complex, it’s easy when you plan accordingly and have the right tools to help you do the job. Start strong from the beginning and you’ll easily be able to maximise yields.

 

Searching for the right equipment is nearly as challenging as starting your own farming business. A piece of equipment that was favourable last year might not work next year because of the constant changes in the weather, production demands and newer, more technologically advanced equipment.

Many of these variables are unpredictable, so when looking for the right equipment to suit your needs, you should try not to over capitalise on your first purchase. Rather buy something that is flexible enough to adapt to changes, while being sustainable enough to meet regular farming needs.

With global industries relying on agricultural goods and services to survive, you will be spoiled for choice with options; the types of farm equipment are endless. But like with all equipment, the price, maintenance and repair of your unit should be justified by the amount of time it saves your company.

Here are a few tips when looking to select the right types of farm equipment for you:

Scale for your needs

Small farm owners are particularly challenged when selecting the right tools and equipment to suit their needs. While any piece of equipment that’s designed to do a certain task well can make the job easier, the scale of the equipment is often not designed for small-scale growers.

Choosing the right, cost-effective equipment to match your needs means that before you do any purchasing, you need to do extensive research on what is right for you. When you have a complete understanding of your farm requirements, your soil type, the kind of production you do, the climatic factors affecting your land and the actual size of your land, then making a decision becomes a lot easier. In the beginning, it is not necessary to go overspend on your purchase as it’s not always practical for growth.

Set a budget and stick to it

Before making any impulse decision, make sure that you set a realistic budget for your first equipment or machinery purchase. This will help you make the right choices without breaking the bank.

Farm equipment comes in a wide range of prices and, especially in the beginning, you can find something that is middle-of-the-range with a good balance between cost and durability. Your input investment is key to low-cost production, so whatever you choose needs to work today and not necessarily in 10 years time.

Research and test the equipment before making a decision

Farm equipment and machinery are extremely pricey, so you need to take extra care when committing to a long-term investment. It’s important that you test the equipment before making a decision. For example, if you are looking at a truck, the seat, pedals, steering wheel, throttle and transmission control should all be well-placed and feel comfortable when operating. Pay attention to how you feel while operating equipment as a negative feeling might lead to future fatigue, stress and loss of productivity on both the work and the operator. Do not make a decision based on what the tool looks like as it is not vital to its functionality.

Make the decision: new vs used equipment

This decision is one of those that suits your pocket. Although farming equipment is a long-term investment, sometimes buying new is not an option for startup farmers. Each type offers their own benefits, with the most evident new equipment perks being tax considerations, easier finance options and more advanced technology. Used equipment is more affordable, allowing you to invest additional money into other farm necessities, and if you don’t plan on using your unit regularly, then used is great for back-up units. Find something that does those small to medium tasks perfectly. Convenience is key for startups.

Choose your unit based on quality to price ratio

Apart from setting up your land and choosing your production, one of the most important tasks is purchasing the equipment that produces your goods. When buying expensive machinery, remember to consider the price, performance, power, parts, product support, prestige and the overall value-for-money on your purchase. Another consideration is to analyse the practicality of a unit.

Sometimes, items are better hired than purchased new or used, especially if it’s only going to be used for one project. In order to get a good idea of the recommended equipment options, models and their prices, get professional help when examining the farming items you’re considering.

 

Apple OrchardIncreasing population numbers have propelled the introduction of mechanisation into the agricultural sector, with ever-improving technology allowing for the expansion of food production. The horticulture branch of agriculture has not missed out on this booming trade with mechanisation improving the lives of farmers every day.

Some of the benefits of mechanisation include:

  • Increases production
  • Assists farm labourers
  • Reduces the cost of production
  • Improvement of agricultural technique
  • Can shift from subsistence to commercial agricultural farming

Machinery Used in Horticulture

Almost all horticultural activities can be mechanised nowadays because of the rapid technological development. Although certain farmers might opt to retain some of the traditional farming methods, many need to keep up with market demands and are finding mechanisation the best option.

  1. Apples

When it comes to harvesting apples, there are so many brands and uses of apples that developing one machine for the process is inherently difficult. But there are many companies working on prototypes, among them, Abundant Robotics, an Australian company that is currently testing a machine that can identify and remove apples, almost as accurately as a human. Another example is the Apple Harvester, a machine with hydraulic platforms on each side to allow apple picking teams to move in to safely gather apples that they can’t reach from ground level. The picked apples are placed in a collection bag which then travels through a vacuum hose which is attached to the bag, all the way to a bin.

  1. Olives

Harvesting olives can be a tricky business which is why there is quite a range of machinery available. One machine essentially encircles underneath the olive tree branches with a canvas of sorts while shaking the tree. All the fallen olives are then captured in this canvas. Another form of olive harvesting is a tractor which essentially engulfs the entire tree and shakes the olives loose, releasing them to a sidecar bin.

  1. Strawberries

These delicate red berries grow closer to the ground than most other fruits which is why they are now grown in special containers which encourages the growth of the berry over the container’s side. When it comes to harvesting, there is specialised machinery which gently removes these useful berries without damaging them.

  1. Tulips

Renowned for its glorious tulips, among other things, the Netherlands has mastered the art of the floral production. When it comes to harvesting the tulip bulbs, a big machine drives over the land and scoops the sand with the bulbs. These bulbs will be collected in a wooden box and ventilated before another machine peels the bulbs.

  1. Grapes (viticulture)

This particularly specialised agricultural product is accompanied by a number of different technologies to assist in the overall production. Applied technologies – global positioning systems, satellite and airborne remote sensing, geographic information systems, digital elevation models, high resolution soil survey and wireless sensor networks, among others – provide information on the optimum harvest time. While there is contention between hand-picking and mechanical harvesting for many wine farmers, the mechanical grape harvester is an incredibly sophisticated machine. It works by beating the vine with rubber sticks until grapes fall onto a conveyor belt which takes them to a holding bin. They are then sorted from leaves and twigs, as well as into healthy berries and those which should be discarded.

Mechanisation of agriculture does not mean that farmers have to replace all labour and invest huge amounts into sophisticated machinery. By choosing the most appropriate machines for the farm size and type, farmers can increase production and even combine more traditional farming methods with modern mechanised agriculture.

For more information on agricultural equipment, contact Radium Engineering. With years of expertise, a passion for the agricultural industry and a commitment to manufacturing superior equipment, Radium Engineering is the answer to all your farming and agricultural and tillage equipment needs.

SOURCES: http://www.wineland.co.za/mechanisation-of-viticulture/

http://www.growingproduce.com/fruits/grapes/the-benefits-of-vineyard-mechanization/

https://www.evineyardapp.com/blog/2015/09/16/use-of-technology-in-the-vineyard/

http://www.fao.org/sustainable-agricultural-mechanization/overview/why-mechanization-is-important/en/

http://www.economicsdiscussion.net/india/farming/mechanization-of-agriculture-meaning-benefits-and-progress/21655

http://www.agbioforum.org/v18n3/v18n3a06-schmitz.htm

https://gizmodo.com/weird-google-docs-bug-is-locking-people-out-of-their-dr-1820006886

https://www.technologyreview.com/s/604303/apple-picking-robot-prepares-to-compete-for-farm-jobs/

http://www.thefabricator.com/article/shopmanagement/apple-picking-for-the-21st-century

 

 

Badlands Country Road - Badlands N.P. South Dakota, U.S.A.

Farms roads are too often perceived to be hastily built or poorly maintained, but with some careful consideration and well-thought-out planning, this can be avoided. Bear in mind that the stronger your road is, the more visitors you’ll get and the less frequent your maintenance will be.

Here are a few key points to keep in mind when planning to build your gravel road:

Start with a purpose in mind

When looking to build a gravel road for your farm, it’s important to know the use beyond it simply being an access point for customers, suppliers or staff. If you know that you’re predominantly going to be accessing that road with heavy-duty vehicles and farm equipment, you need to ensure that the road is strong enough to handle the pressure. A good starting point would be to analyse the traffic frequency that will be passing through that road, before choosing the right materials and machinery to construct it.

Build your foundation

A strong foundation will set the tone for the outcome of your efforts. When planning your farm layout, the road foundation requires careful consideration as you cannot build on weak or wet soils. If this is your concern, two of the most used methods include raising the current soil with new materials or extracting the weak soil to make room for new material. The difference depends on the width of your road.

Use of the right equipment, quality materials and the correct building technique

Depending on your location, factors such as the climate and available resource will impact your material search. When looking for the right gravel, it’s important to select a gravel that has larger top-sized stones with less clay or fine material. This is necessary for the strength and drainability needed in base gravels. Especially when it comes to gravel, testing your material beforehand is well-worth the investment.

The right technique would be to build from the bottom up, which is more complex than it sounds. There are a number of different road graders, particularly the universal grader, to assist you in in your process.

Along with having the right equipment, ensure that you apply the correct materials in the right order, as that could be the differentiating factor between a sustainable gravel road and a weak one that needs constant repairing. Once your road is complete, make sure you apply a palliative solution to further strengthen and protect the gravel.

Drainage is the key to a successful gravel road

All building steps lead to the drainage process. Roads that allow water to properly drain off the surface and out of roadbed soils are much easier to maintain and less costly. Ensure that you have the proper drains, ditches, culverts and underdrains incorporated into your plan to prevent water from pooling.

If these elements are not a focal area, your maintenance team will constantly deal with surface problems that come from wet or weak soil conditions underneath the road.

Have a regular maintenance plan in place

If you live in a climate with heavy rain conditions or the reverse of that, be sure to keep a regular maintenance plan to ensure the road performs well, with the correct equipment. It is advised that you hire professionals to do the maintenance checks as they will be able to detect future complications.

Machinery breakdowns are unfortunately not always budgeted for. In order to avoid these costly inconveniences, farm owners should commit to proper planning, maintenance checks and equipment monitoring. And depending on repair costs, allocated downtime or any other external factor that could impact the production of goods, equipment failure can have a devastating effect on a business’ success.

There is no guarantee that when a machine breaks down repair costs will be low. Sometimes your repair is limited to replacing one part and other times it may be the whole unit. So, even though machinery breakdown insurance can provide relief in these odd occasions, try to avoid these situations altogether.

Here are tips to preventing the most common problems:

Ensure that you read the operator’s manual

It may sound like a reckless thing to do but many machine operators have not yet read the manual. Before using a unit, ensure that you have a total understanding of the equipment process. The manual will tell you how to set up the machine, what to do in case of failure, and what parts to add, check, change or adjust before starting it up. Should you find yourself in a situation where the machine is giving you problems, be sure to read the troubleshooting section in your manual before contacting a technician.

Regular maintenance checks

Similar to any other heavy-duty equipment, the maintenance of farm machinery is essential to having them perform at optimal performance level. Although this is the most important task, many farmers take shortcuts when it comes to these checks (especially when production is underway and they’re feeling overwhelmed with little staff). When things are running smoothly, it’s easy to brush services off but the minute something fails, farmers can expect to deal with a big delay in production.

Other maintenance checks can be done on-site, for example: checking oil and gearboxes, replacing equipment belts and checking to see if dirt is affecting the machinery performance.

Do not operate your machinery with poor electrical connections

This goes hand-in-hand with servicing your equipment. Take the time to clean your machine, and use compressed air instead of water to keep moisture away from the wires when operating. Often, when you push machines to the limit, you are only doing more damage to the lifespan of your unit. When you put too much strain on all the drives, breakdowns are more likely to show up, and more frequently.

Replace worn parts immediately

This is just another reason why routine maintenance checks are so important. If one machine part cuts out, farmers should take this as an opportunity to check and replace other parts to ensure that nothing else could have caused the initial breakdown. By replacing only the broken part, you are only temporarily fixing the problem. Additionally, these checks can identify small problems before becoming bigger ones.

Have your staff monitor equipment frequently

Along with maintenance checks, train your operators to monitor the equipment.This way all staff are on par with the condition of your unit, to help prevent unwanted breakdowns and subsequent downtime.

Continuous monitoring is when you make use of sensors to establish baselines and detect subtle changes in parts, which can then be used to predict impending failures. In turn, companies can identify the causes of increased stress on equipment, and adjust workloads accordingly.

Another concern is operating equipment in poor weather conditions. Try not to run machinery when it’s raining as it could cause some signals that may be alarming. Signals include those for engine temperature, hydraulic oil, shaft speeds or other parts that might not be turning at the correct speed.

Do not allow untrained staff to operate equipment

Inexperienced operators need to undergo in-depth training on procedures, basic troubleshooting, and best practices for safe equipment use. Whether or not a person will be operating a specific machine or not, if there is an emergency and shortage of staff, people need to be able to assist.

By ensuring that your staff is always up to scratch and knowledgeable on equipment, you’ll benefit from a longer lifespan from your most valuable assets.