Farming equipment can take a huge financial toll on new farmers. But, sometimes, great bargains can be found in the used farm equipment market.
Prices for used farm machinery have been trending lower in the past year due to a surplus of inventory at dealerships, but buying used may not always be the best option, a Purdue University expert says.
Robert Stwalley, assistant professor of agricultural and biological engineering, urges farmers who are thinking of buying used planters, tractors, trucks or other machinery to be cautious.
“A used piece of equipment, under the right circumstances, may be the best economic choice for a specific operation,” Stwalley said. “But it may not be. Remember, go in with your eyes open and choose wisely.”
Mike Gunderson, an associate professor of agricultural economics, said higher crop prices over the past five years allowed many farmers to purchase new farm machinery during that time. Consequently, those farmers will probably not need to buy any new equipment in the foreseeable future, Gunderson said.
Retailers selling new farm machinery can curtail inventory to adjust to lower market demand, but any new equipment sale involving a trade brings in another used piece of equipment to add to the inventory, causing a surplus.
Things to consider
Stwalley said there are several things to keep in mind when thinking about buying used equipment. Farm machinery operates at maximum efficiency only for a certain amount of time, he said.
According to the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, planters have a relatively short effective lifespan — 1,000 operational hours — while tractors, farm trucks and wagons can last up to 5,000 hours.
All other machinery should last about 2,000 hours.
So, you’ve got a great piece of land, and maybe a tractor or two, but it’s just not enough. Maybe you’ve got a great tractor, but you need a new implement like a bush hog or a hay rake. Whatever your equipment needs are, it’s a wise idea to get the inside scoop when it comes to buying used farm equipment. Conn Wilson, former manager at John Deere in Richmond, Kentucky, shares his tips for buying used farm equipment:
Tips on Buying Used Equipment:
1. Determine Your Needs and Go One Size Bigger
If you need an 85 hp tractor, get a 90 hp model. If you need a 54″ deck, get a 60″. It’s always a good practice to get a little more than you need. When it comes to equipment, more is better than less.
2. Inspect Items for Wear
Every dealership should allow you to make a close inspection of equipment. There are quite a few places to pay attention to, such as the water pump (bearing), chains, belts, gears, and drawbars, along with tires/couples. Purchasing a piece of equipment only to have it break down during the first pass through the field can be frustrating. It’s a good idea to be familiar with these items and know how to fix them on the go, or know how to spot signs of dangerous wear, Wilson says.
If you’re looking to purchase a tractor, pay attention to the hitch. A worn hitch hole can indicate what its work load has been.Tractors live hard lives, so knowing what your prospective equipment has done in the past is a great way to know what it can do in the future.
3. Pay Attention to the Seat/Drivers Platform
Is the seat worn or weathered? Is the paint missing from high-traffic areas? Typically, you should look for a worn but not weathered seat. Additionally, you should find worn paint where feet and hands have been–pedals, gear shifters, grab handles, etc. This usually indicates that the machine has been used frequently and has been relied upon.
4. Stay Away from “Liquid Overhauls”
According to Wilson, you will want to see a piece of used equipment in as close to “field” condition as possible. Fresh fluid changes can hide contamination problems in engines (such as problems with a head gasket or hydraulic systems) so you want to be on the lookout.
5. Push the Buttons
Push all the buttons. Make sure things work. If they don’t work, ask questions or go into it knowing that the non-working component won’t function. If you’re uncomfortable with something not working, bring it to the salesman’s attention, Wilson says. At that point, the salesman has two options: fix it, or make it part of the deal.
Once you’ve found your next piece of farm equipment, make sure that you notify your Trusted Choice® indepdent insurance agent so the equipment can be added to your farm insurance policy.
Used Equipment Sources: