Equipment For Your Small Farm Row Cropping
All kinds of tractors, tools and equipment can catch a farmer's eye. Carefully assess what's needed for your small farm when making your "small farm equipment" list and budget. The expense and ongoing maintenance costs can be considerable. And don't be afraid to ask others for help, especially if you're still honing your mechanical skills.
Tips For Choosing Farm Equipment
Some farm equipment is specialized, while others can be used regardless of what's planted. Once you choose to start your own small row crop farm, you need to determine the equipment needed to prepare the fields, fertilize, control pests, water and harvest.
It's likely a tractor is at the top of the list. A general-purpose tractor is designed to farm row crops and offers useful features for that purpose.
Here are some general tips for finding quality equipment for your small row crop farm:
- When choosing what to buy, review classified ads and visit area dealers
- Talk to farming neighbors about their tractors
- Talk to your local Southern States store, who will be able to talk to you about or refer you to a reliable source of farm equipment
- Ask about the make, model and size of their various tractors, as well as how they perform
- Ask about attachments to learn which ones are must-haves and which ones aren't as useful as they thought they'd be. What didn't they buy that they wish they had
With proper research small farmers often can purchase used equipment that suit their farms and their budgets. Consider buying accompanying used attachments that make sense for your farm. It may be difficult to find and purchase them later. Have an expert check out any used equipment before the purchase. The price may not seem as attractive if it's more worn than it appears
If you purchase a tractor or other equipment from a dealership, ask around about the quality of its service department and inventory availability. Determine if there are other nearby retailers, too, to turn to in a pinch
Managing Your Small Row Crop Equipment
Once the crop is in, a spring tine cultivator can be useful in managing weeds. The flexible steel tines maneuver over and around rocks and soil clumps. Use a grader with a steel blade to smooth uneven land and grade contours to direct water runoff. Some farms will need lawn tractors and equipment such as a Husqvarna Trimmer to clear brush, as well.
For jobs that are very large, infrequent or require specialized equipment, get a quote from a your Southern States Dealer. GrowMaster Certified Crop Services are available in many areas.
Getting Around The Farm
Most farmers rely on a sturdy pick-up truck to haul big farm supplies and/or pull trailers. In addition, a bed cap keeps items in the truck bed clean and dry. For quick trips around the farm property, a golf cart can be a good investment. Other farmers choose all terrain vehicles (ATVs). ATVs are more maneuverable than a golf cart and come in four-wheel and three-wheel models. Because of instability, though, the three-wheel models are not recommended for agricultural use. When selecting such a vehicle, remember the hauling capacity of ATVs and golf carts is limited.
Farmers find plenty of uses for a utility vehicle, also known as "utes." Low to the ground with lightweight tires, they're extremely versatile. Depending on the property's terrain and crops, a utility vehicle could double as a tractor on a small farm. Trailers are available, as are numerous attachments that mow, dig, bale, push, lift and set fence posts.
Handling Everyday Tasks
Here are some following tips for handling everyday tasks around your small row crops farm:
- Lightweight handcarts easily move things around the farm and are steadier than a traditional wheelbarrow
- For fencing installation, buy a fence post driver to pound the posts into the ground. A pair of fence pliers can also be very handy tool to have if you need it.
- Southern States carries a variety of fencing supplies, so browse our products, then come on into your local store to find out more.
- A variety of electric power equipment are needed to successfully run a farm. Every farmer will have his favorite brand or models of drills, saws and other equipment. As for hand tools, toolbox standards include pliers, a socket and driver set, adjustable wrenches, claw hammer, and regular and screwdrivers in a variety of sizes.
Never underestimate the dangers on a farm, so establish safe practices. They'll keep you and your workers safe, your equipment in good working order and the farm working efficiently. Tell someone where you'll be working and when you expect to return. If the property has cell or wireless service, carry a cell phone in the event of an emergency.
Regularly inspect every piece of equipment. Never operate a machine that's damaged or not working properly. Follow the manufacturer's maintenance directions and follow our farm equipment maintenance tips for winter. Hire a qualified mechanic or other expert when the work is beyond your capability
Use spraying masks and protective clothing when handling and spraying toxic chemicals. Insert ear plugs when you're working around noise machinery
Store the tools and other equipment for your row crop farm in an appropriate storage building. Doing so helps to prevent rust and wear from weather conditions. Secure storage also keeps dangerous objects out of reach of children, those inexperienced in their use, vandals and thieves.