Farm Implements and Equipment and How to Maintain Them

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Farm Implements and Equipment and How to Maintain Them

Running a modern farm is not easy; it takes the mastery of dozens of skills and long hours of work in all kinds of weather. It also takes a wealth of specialised tools and equipment. Farm implements go back thousands of years, all the way to the invention of agriculture; equipment, as distinct from implements, goes back at least to the industrial revolution. For most farmers, these implements are as important as the land itself, because there is no way they can get the harvest in without them. They also represent a huge investment, especially the heavy equipment, and no business can afford to throw away a major investment, especially not an investment that's integral to their business. This is why it is so important to maintain farm implements and equipment. Proper maintenance extends the life of equipment, and reduces the expenses required to keep a farm going. It may seem expensive to someone who does not budget for regular maintenance, but the cost is always less than paying for catastrophic repairs.

History of Farm Implements and Basics of Farming

Simple farm implements go back as far as the invention of agriculture, which was probably some 10 000 years ago around Catal Hüyük in what is now Turkey. Farming, in simplest terms, is nothing more or less than growing specific plants to order. The farmer has to break the ground for planting, plant the seeds, and then harvest and thresh the crop. The first implements were little more than sticks used to break up the soil, although they soon developed into the precursors of hoes and spades. The next big step was the plough, which quite literally took breaking earth out of the hands of the farmer. The first ploughs were little more than bigger sticks pulled by animals, but with the introduction of metal ploughshares and the horse collar, ploughs advanced steadily. Harvesting and threshing was also originally done by hand, with scythes, sickles, and flails. It took a lot of work, but the invention of agriculture enabled all of civilisation that followed.

The Basics of Farming

While people may think that farming starts with just putting a seed in the ground and letting it grow, there are a lot more steps involved, many of them before anyone even thinks of touching a seed. To start with, the ground has to be prepared for the seeds, and that takes work. Only then can a farmer even think of planting. In fact, for centuries, the hardest work was that which needed to be done at the very beginning. Planting by hand is much easier than ploughing.

The following table shows the basic steps of farming and the order in which they are normally performed:

Step

Description

Ploughing

Turns over the soil to aerate and bury weeds

Harrowing

Breaks up the soil to prepare the seedbed for planting

Planting

Introduces the seed to the ground

Reaping

Harvests the crop

Threshing

Beats the grain to loosen the chaff for removal

Winnowing

Separates the wheat from the chaff

As is clear from the above table, there are a very large number of steps involved in the art of farming, and many of them involve a great deal of physical labour. In fact it was that physical labour that was one of the driving forces of the agricultural revolution that started in the 18th century and led to the development of farm equipment as opposed to implements.

Farm Equipment

Farm equipment, as opposed to implements, can be considered those tools that are too big to be used by hand. In other words, the farmer carries implements, equipment carries the farmer. Most modern farm equipment is either motorised, or comes as an attachment to a piece of farm machinery such as a tractor. While the development of equipment took a huge step forward after about 1800, its history goes back to at least ancient Rome.

Tractor Attachments

Tractor attachments are among the most common pieces of farm equipment available. They range from ploughs and harrows, to seed drills and spreaders. It is the variety of these attachments, as well as others such as the backhoe, that make the tractor such a valuable piece of farm equipment. Depending on the farm, the tractor may be the single core piece of farm equipment around which everything else revolves.

Combine Harvester

The combine harvester is a single piece of equipment that fulfils three tasks in succession; reaping, threshing, and winnowing. They get the name because they combine all three aspects of harvesting into a single piece of equipment. First invented in the 1830s, they have since become a vital part of the modern farm. The earliest combine harvesters were horsedrawn, with some of the bigger ones requiring teams of over a score of horses. Later models were designed to be pulled by tractors, or in the case of the larger units, to be self-propelled. The one thing all versions have in common is that they are both complex and expensive, making proper maintenance that much more important.

Farm Equipment Maintenance

Regular maintenance is vital to any piece of equipment. Not only does it cost less overall than having to repair catastrophic damage, but it is infinitely easier to budget for a small regular expense on an ongoing basis, than a potentially much larger expense that could hit at any time with no warning. Regular maintenance not only keeps the farmer in control of these expenses, but also decreases the chance of surprise if a major failure does occur. There are a number of components that show visible signs of wear long before they fail, which means the person doing regular maintenance can see the signs and is then able to take preventative action beforehand.

Cleaning and Inspection

One of the most important aspects of maintenance is cleaning; it is also the first step. Regular cleaning not only prevents damage by ensuring nothing gets stuck in the machinery, which can be particularly important with equipment like combine harvesters which have a lot of moving parts, but is also a necessary precursor to inspecting the equipment or implements for wear and damage. Once the equipment is clean, it is easy to see what needs repair, what needs replacing, and what is in perfect condition and needs nothing more than the cleaning.

Maintenance and Repair

After cleaning and inspection, the next stage is taking the time for maintenance and any repairs if necessary. Every piece of machinery has some parts that wear out through normal use, and farm equipment is no exception. Proper maintenance involves inspecting and replacing those parts as they wear out, and making sure all fluids are topped up. It also means making all those little repairs, the ones that do not appear to make any immediate difference, but add up over the long run. A tractor can work perfectly well with one broken lug nut, but break a second one, and the tractor has an issue. Keeping everything else in good condition helps minimise the collateral damage from an otherwise minor breakdown.

Buying Farm Implements and Equipment on eBay

No matter how well you maintain your farm equipment, there is a point at which you have to spend money; whether on parts for further maintenance, or to replace implements or equipment that has reached the point where the maintenance cost is greater than the replacement cost. Whatever you need to buy, eBay is a superb place to buy it. You can find anything, all you need to do is put your terms in the search box, there is one on every page, and watch the results appear. Once you've got all your results on screen, you can use the filters in the sidebar to narrow them down to just what you need. You can filter by everything from price to brand, as well as seller location. Then, once you've eliminated everything that does not meet your needs, you can use the sort function to ensure the ones you want most are at the top of your list.

After you have found everything required for your maintenance needs, the next thing to do is to determine which of eBay's many sellers you want to do business with. The place to start is their profile page, where you can see everything from their feedback to their location. Some sellers also offer bundles, or allow you to pick up purchases in person. The latter can be a great saving when buying equipment.

Conclusion

No farmer can hope to prosper without equipment or implements, and those who do not maintain their equipment are doomed to replace it. Every business owner needs to control their expenses, and farmers are no different. Regular maintenance involves spending time and money on a known schedule, thereby avoiding surprises. It starts with cleaning, because only when the equipment is clean can the owner see exactly what kind of maintenance and repairs are needed, and spot wear before it becomes an issue. After cleaning comes inspection, and only then is it time to do the actual repair and maintenance of the equipment. It all comes down to knowledge, knowledge of what a given implement or piece of equipment needs in the way of repairs at any given time. A regular maintenance schedule saves the farmer time, money, and aggravation; and keeps the expenditures that do occur under control and on a manageable budget.

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