Tips to selecting the right equipment for your small farming business

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.