The Dos and Donts of Buying Farm Implements and Equipment

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The Do's and Don'ts of Buying Farm Implements and Equipment

A farm's success depends in part on having the right implements and equipment. Having quality, reliable, and user-friendly equipment helps farmers in every stage of crop cultivation, from preparing the soil for planting, to harvesting the crops. Some of these implements, such as the plough, have been in use for thousands of years, while others are relatively new advancements that have streamlined the cultivation process, making it less labour intensive, and meeting industrial-sized demands.

Whether searching for basic implements for a small farm or heavy-duty machinery for larger operations, there are several do's and don'ts to keep in mind. Overall, concerns should be focussed on safety, planning, and research. Buyers should plan in advance what they need to buy, research particular models they are interested in, and ensure that the specific item for sale meets the safety requirements as outlined by UK law. Following these steps can help buyers acquire the right gear to keep their farm running optimally.

Do Decide What Equipment to Buy in Advance

Before setting out to shop for farm implements and equipment, buyers should think about the coming seasons and decide what items they need. This helps save time and energy; they can buy many items from the same source, and possibly even find discounts on bundles of equipment.

Equipment

Description

Tractor

Essential farm vehicle for many different agricultural tasks, including tilling, plowing, disking, harrowing, and planting; implements may be mounted in front or towed behind tractor; tractor engine can provide power for mechanised implements; may be open- or closed-cab; majority are run on diesel engines

Mower and Topper

Vehicle or implement that mounts to or trails behind tractor; used to clip grass or other crops; different types including rotary, roller, and flail

Harrows

Implement used after ploughing to break up and smooth the soil's surface; additional functions may include weed removal and covering sown seeds; four types: disc, tine, chain, and chain disc; usually trailed behind tractor

Sprayer

Device used to spray crops with fertilisers, pesticides, or herbicides; may be portable backpacks with spray hose, tow sprayer for tractor, or larger, self-propelled unit; wide range of capacities

Plough

Implement used in essential first step of cultivation; turns the layer of soil, bringing fresh undersoil to the surface and burying weeds and old crops; mounts to tractor; many different sizes

Fencing and Gating

Used to divide off areas, contain livestock, demarcate property lines, and more

Spreader

Implement used to spread seed, fertiliser, lime, salt, and more; may attach to tractor or be pushed by hand; various capacities

Drill

Implement used to place seeds in soil in straight rows; mounts to tractor; various drilling depths, need to be adjusted depending on crop

Log Splitter

Implement for splitting wood; manual, hydraulic, electric, and heavy-duty versions available

Baler

Machine that compresses crop into bales, making it easier for handling transport, storage

Harvester

Machine for harvesting crops; performs three vital functions, reaping, threshing, and winnowing, thus streamlining the harvesting process and greatly reducing physical labor; fitted with head specified for a certain crop

Cultivators

Group of different types of implements used in secondary tillage; stirs the soil in set patterns, so as not to disturb crops; may be self-propelled or trailed behind tractor

Roller

Implement used to flatten soil and break up clumps; this facilitates the harvesting process and prevents moisture loss; rollers may be one-piece or segmented, smooth or textured

In addition to the bigger equipment and implements, farmers should also plan ahead to replenish any supplies they need, and purchase small parts for equipment repair or maintenance.

Do Purchase CE-Marked Equipment

UK law requires that all new farming vehicles, machinery, and equipment be CE-marked. CE, which stands for Conformité Européenne, or "European Conformity", is a mandatory mark on all items sold in the European Economic Area (EEA). This label indicates that the piece of machinery meets minimum safety standards.

A certificate of conformity must also be included, as well as a workshop manual and information on noise levels. If the noise levels are above those legally permitted, appropriate protective gear should be distributed to those operating the machinery.

If buyers have any questions, they can contact the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) for information.

Do Verify the Condition of Used Equipment

Buying used farm equipment and implements is an excellent way to save money and still get quality, durable machinery. That said, buyers need to check the condition of the equipment and ensure it is safe to operate. The UK has specific guidelines about used farm equipment; since these are subject to change, buyers should verify what the latest requirements are. Information can be obtained online, from the local government office, or by contacting the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

Although used equipment may not be CE-marked, it still must comply with Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER) regulations. If it does not, it needs to be updated accordingly before being used.

The sale should include the operator's manual; if it is not available for some reason, the information should be obtained. Many used manuals are available online or for purchase.

All safety guards must be in place before operation. Sellers are required by law to supply all necessary safety guards. Broken ones must be repaired, and missing ones replaced.

Do Research Items Before Buying

Whether buying online or in person, the more one knows about an item, the more informed one's purchasing decision. User reviews online, trade magazines, and experts familiar with the model can all be valuable sources of information, and give the buyer an idea of what to expect from a particular piece of equipment. Those with less experience may particularly benefit from reading books on farming to get an overall sense of what they need and how to choose it.

In many cases, there are several different types of a given implement. Research helps farmers decide which type is best suited to their operation, as well as find out which manufacturers have a reputation for building sturdy, efficient products.

Do Check Equipment Specifications

Product specifications can tell a buyer a lot about its capabilities and suitability for their particular needs. The precise set of specifications depends on the type of equipment or implement, but the following are some general things to look for, where applicable: sub-type, dimensions, weight, material, power source, type of engine, engine power, power requirements, type of mechanism, maximum capacity or weight it is able to bear, mount or hitch type, safety features, and what other machinery it is compatible with. Interested shoppers should verify that an item is compatible with existing equipment, and that the other specifications indicate that it is the right item for the intended use.

Don't Overlook Ease-of-Use and Reliability

Farm work is demanding and labour-intensive, which is why equipment ought to be as user-friendly and reliable as possible. When comparing farm equipment and implements, buyers should research reviews of the model, and, when possible, test it out themselves. Ease-of-use includes things like having all controls within one's reach, being simple to attach and detach safely, producing minimal noise, and having easy access to parts for routine maintenance. Basic preventative maintenance should be simple and straightforward.

Don't Rule Out Buying Old Equipment for Parts or Repair

Experienced buyers who have the time and skill to make repairs themselves may want to take advantage significant savings by buying older equipment for parts or repair. If repairs are needed, the seller should be clear about what is required; buyers can then assess whether it is worth the time and cost to do so. It is sometimes possible to find otherwise expensive equipment in this way.

Alternatively, buyers can opt to use the equipment for spare parts, extracting what is still functional and using it for other repairs and replacements.

When buying items for parts or repair, shoppers should be cognisant of UK regulations about safety standards for farm equipment, as discussed above. Any equipment in use needs to comply with applicable regulations.

Don't Wait Until the Last Minute for Seasonal Equipment

Planning ahead for buying seasonal equipment means taking advantage of broader selections and ensuring that farmers have all that they need in preparation for the upcoming season. Buying off-season may also allow farmers to take advantage of sales and lower prices.

Do Consider Buying Farm Implements and Equipment on eBay

eBay has a wide selection of new and used farm implements and equipment at competitive prices. To start you search, go to eBay's home page and enter keywords like "flail mower" into the search bar. You can narrow your original search results by then setting your preferences for price range, seller location, and more.

Once you have found an item you're interested in, read the item description thoroughly to be sure you understand what you're buying and the conditions of sale. Note item specifications, item condition (new, used, or refurbished), quantity, and any other items that may be included. Check for additional postage costs, or whether the seller requires the item be collected. Local pickup, if feasible, can be an economical option, but should be approached with consideration for the safety and comfort of both parties. It is also a good precaution to research the seller a bit by looking at their feedback score and comments left by previous buyers who made purchases similar to yours.

Conclusion

Having the right farm equipment and implements is an essential factor in running a farm safely and successfully. When shopping for new additions to their collection, there are several do's and don'ts that farmers should keep in mind.

Planning, safety, and research are key strategies in the buying process. Farmers should decide ahead of time what equipment and supplies they need, and plan in advance for upcoming seasons. There are several implements and pieces of equipment that are necessary for different stages of crop cultivation, including tractors, sprayers, and harvesters. New equipment should be CE-certified, and used equipment must comply with PUWER regulations, or repaired so that it is brought up to standards. Researching equipment is also vital. This includes deciding on the right type of equipment for the farmer's needs, finding reliable and user-friendly models, and understanding specifications for a specific model. Following these steps helps farmers get quality equipment that will perform well for years.

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