Is That Tool Worth the Cost?

3/29/2017 9:31:23 AM by Carissa Shaul

Before you make a farm equipment purchase, calculate the machine's true cost over time and find out if it is worth it.

It’s very common for a farmer to think, “If I only had that tractor (or new part), this farming job would be much easier.” Looking at the price tag, you might be able to afford a particular piece of machinery at the time, but there is more to consider when accounting for the true cost of the equipment overtime.

Let's say you find the perfect part or piece of equipment you are looking for from one of our many suppliers on The initial purchase price is the largest lump sum, but you’ll also want to look at the time, labor and stress this tool will save. From there calculate the income return for the expense as well as the estimated time and expense lost on training to use the tool. Finally, factor in the lifespan of the tool, the input expense, estimated maintenance time and expense required over the lifespan of the tool.

“A key question that should be considered before acquiring equipment is whether the farm operator has the ability, tools and extra labor required to operate the equipment properly and to maintain it in efficient and reliable condition,” says Alan Miller, farm business management specialist in the Agricultural Economics Department at Purdue University. “Custom-hiring machine operations may be a better alternative if the answer is no. Or a plan of action will need to be implemented to acquire the needed skills.”

In short, if you can already handle driving a front-end loader, you’ll have a small learning curve for a new-to-you loader. If you’ve never operated one before, your learning curve will be larger and you could also face repair costs for the equipment and your property if your learning curve were to go terribly south.