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Will keeping combine pay?

I bought a second combine, rather than leasing, to harvest 2,000 acres of beans this fall. It paid off very well. The plan was to sell the used combine after harvest. My son wants to keep it for the next emergency. We didn’t get a corn head with it. What do you think?

Erickson: You must evaluate your potential future need for the extra combine versus the capital that you have tied up in this asset that could be used better in your business. Used combines will always be available. You must decide if this one is too good to let go based on price, condition and potential use.

Evans: The questions that would guide the decision deal most with your available labor (son) and your setup. Is your son part of the operation, or is he additional labor? If you have storage and transportation backbone to support both machines, then keeping the older machine may make sense. What is the value of the older machine if sold versus its value to you? How much have you put into the older machine recently? Is it reasonable to expect that it will perform well for the next couple of seasons?

Myers: If the decision is to continue to own or go back to leasing, then weigh trade value and ownership costs, including purchase of a new head, versus a yearly leasing expense. If the decision is capacity and timeliness, then you have to realistically consider how many acres you can get through one machine. Don’t forget about the extra labor and other equipment that it takes to make that second machine efficient. Look at your total machine expense per acre of cost versus leasing.

Meet our panelists

• David Erickson, farmer, Altona, Ill.

• Mark Evans, Purdue Extension director

• Dan Gottschalk, financial consultant, Delphi, Ind.

• Steve Myers, farm manager, Busey Ag Resources, Leroy, Ill.

Is vertical-tillage tool worth cost?

I like what I see from the new vertical-tillage tools that run very shallow and level the soil, plus leaving residue. Question is: Do I like it well enough to pay $38,000 for a model in the width I need? If I buy it, should I trade my 24-foot disk in on it? It’s probably worth $4,000.

Erickson: You need to decide what value the tool brings to your operations. If you might use the disk in the future, it is probably worth keeping, because its trade-in value is rather insignificant to the cost of the vertical-tillage tool.

Evans: A disk is one of the poorest tools for soil crop preparation since they are used to compact soil to build roads. The best economical advice is to switch to no-till or a high residue management system. If wet soils or lack of tile are barriers, vertical-tillage tools do have their place. Another option may be the rotary harrow-type residue fluffing tools. Try some of these tools out by working with your dealer.

If a disk has been used to dry out wet soils in the spring, there are likely compaction issues that need to be addressed through deep rippers prior to switching to no-till or a high residue system to facilitate vertical water movement. This would need to be done during a dry fall or in summer after wheat.

Myers: Like many machinery decisions, ask yourself will it accomplish what you want and does it have more than one use. Will the trade of the existing tool leave a void in your operation? In the end, only you can decide on its usefulness versus cost.

This article published in the March, 2010 edition of INDIANA PRAIRIE FARMER.

All rights reserved. Copyright Farm Progress Cos. 2010.