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08 01 2016

08 01 2016

Make sure your farm is ready for harvest season

Farming your land is one of the great joys of life: you get to interact with nature and feed a large number of people with the food you’ve grown. However, with that joy comes a considerable amount of work, especially during harvest time. Although the sun might still be scorchingly hot in many places, that doesn’t mean it isn’t time to get started on preparing to gather your crops. Harvest season requires you to undertake a massive amount of work in an extremely short amount of time and you need to be as ready as possible before it officially begins.

Despite the trend toward larger, more consolidated farm operations, the U.S. has been experiencing a slow, but steady, uptick in smaller agriculture farms, with the majority of the 2.1 million farms classified as small in terms of sales, Modern Farmer reported. As more people return to the land to grow crops, it’s important to remember the pivotal role equipment plays in performing the many functions necessary to run a farm.

Although it can take years and, in some cases, a lifetime, to learn everything there is to know about effectively farming land, when it comes to the machinery, there are some useful guidelines farmers should follow:

Make early preparations
While some farmers might be old hands at operating all their harvesting equipment, others will be relatively new and not quite as familiar with how their machinery works. However, no matter if you’ve been farming your land for five or 50 years, it’s always wise to review all the owners and operator manuals for your equipment. These booklets will include the maintenance schedules that chart out when you must perform specific calibrations, services or preventive upkeep.

Do a safety walkthrough
Combines and harvesters are major mechanical contraptions with thousands of tiny parts that all need to be functioning perfectly. The failure of even the smallest part can cause serious damage to not only the machine but also the person operating it. Before gearing up the machines for harvest, be sure to perform a safety walkthrough to ensure everything is working properly. Fire up the equipment and listen carefully for anything that sounds off, like odd clinks or grinding belts in the engine. Otherwise, operating a malfunctioning piece of equipment in the middle of the field can potentially lead to serious injuries. By taking the time to inspect your equipment before using it, you can ensure everything is running smoothly and that everyone stays safe.

Conduct safety training
Even small farms will often have a few extra hands to assist in the numerous duties required to harvest acres of crops. It’s important that everyone who is operating the machinery is well-trained and understands how to effectively use all the equipment. This includes extra hands as well as any family members that might be working the land.

Post-harvest duties
Once all the hard work of collecting crops and clearing fields has been finished, there’s still work to be done. The equipment used during harvest will need to be cleaned and inspected for any damaged parts. It’s a rare year when you won’t have to do at least some kind of minor repair. The more effort you put into cleaning and checking your machinery and equipment now, the less work you’ll have to do when harvest seasons begins next year.

Consider leasing equipment
Harvesting crops is a tough job that involves a plethora of machinery, from augers to grain carts to harvesters. Without equipment that is performing at a high level of productivity, harvesting your crops can become a difficult and, if not properly maintained, it can become a dangerous task. These machines can be costly and purchasing upgraded equipment might not be within your price range, especially if you’ve faced bad season or two.

In addition, for better or worse, much like modern automobiles, farming equipment utilizes a vast array of sensors, computer chips and other sensitive digital components. While these features increase the functionality of the equipment, it can also make it extremely difficult to perform your own repairs on your favorite John Deere tractor using conventional tools. This can lead to significant downtime and fallow fields if you need to wait on a repair specialist to show up and fix the combine or tractor.

Further, as Wired noted, many of the manufacturers of farming equipment, such as John Deere, limit access to the diagnostics software that digitally controls the machinery, making it even more difficult to fix problems when they arise.

For a cost-effective solution, utilizing equipment leasing to acquire the farm equipment necessary to undertake a successful and efficient harvest can be a wise options. Not only does equipment leasing provide considerable savings for farmers, but it also allows them to upgrade to new machinery on a regular basis, ensuring they always have the best equipment possible during harvest season.

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