University of Maryland Extension

3. Avoiding Top 5 Equipment Pitfalls

  1. Buying equipment that the farm will never be able to pay for. Modern farm equipment is expensive. New farmers often make the mistake of purchasing more equipment than they need for the size operation they have. For example, a modern grain operation will incur equipment of costs ¾ of a million dollars. This large cost typically requires that the investment be spread among many acres (1200-1500) to be economically feasible. Knowing your economy of scale and sizing the equipment to fit that scale is a critical first step. This is true whether you are farming 3 acres or 5000.

  2. Buying equipment the farm doesn’t need. This one is pretty self-explanatory. It can be tempting to buy that shiny tractor at a farm auction when you don’t have a real need. Do your homework first, and remember that the bill still comes due whether you use the equipment or not.

  3. Improperly sizing equipment for the job at hand. Be sure the power source, implement, and the task at hand are compatible with each other. In other words, don’t hook a 6 bottom plow to a 40 horsepower tractor to till a ¼ acre vegetable plot.

  4. Buying all new equipment. Both new and used equipment has a fit, depending on farm size, your mechanical aptitude, and potential use. Used equipment can lower initial fixed costs, and allows a beginning farmer with a lower economy of scale to justify an equipment purchase. Used equipment does require the operator to have some mechanical aptitude though.

  5. Buying equipment and never learning how to use it properly. Take time to read the operators manual, listen to others and request a set-up demo from the seller to learn how to properly operate a piece of equipment.

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