Buying kit: to have or not to have, this is the question

The season of the well-known farming shows is upon us and if you are like me it’s easy to get carried away looking at the shiny new kit, thinking it could be a life-line for your business. I find myself adding to a rapidly-expanding wish-list which, by the end of an event day, resembles a small novel.

However, when I’m driving home I start to revaluate my earlier enthusiasm and realise the kit I’ve been considering isn’t really necessary for my mixed farming business.

This makes me realise how easy it is to get carried away when buying kit however and as I have learnt, very occasionally you can gain what you want by spending less! This unexpectedly was the case some years ago when I purchased a new 20’ (6.3m) tandem axel bale trailer. I convinced myself that this size would suffice and make my life easier when towing it down the narrow roads and through some awkward gates that had already had some unarranged student trailer widening.

In truth I would have loved to have purchase the  25’ (7.5m) trailer but my  budget only just about stretched to 20’ trailer and I knew I really couldn’t justify another expansion of my overdraft especially as we were only a quarter of the way through the year and, this money could well be needed for future unexpected problems.

Fortunately, a delivery slot for this trailer was already in place as another local farmer had already ordered the 25’ bale trailer (the spec. I really wanted) from the same company. Therefore my trailer would arrive with his.

A few days after delivery I had a phone call from the dealer asking if I would consider swapping the trailer I purchased with the other farmer (at no extra charge) as his enthusiasm to buy a trailer had got the better of him. He didn’t realise that it wouldn’t fit into some of his yards without significant alterations. So, in the end I got the trailer I wanted and within the budget I had. I was lucky in this case, and was reminded that those who are frugal sometimes come out on top! Also, size isn’t everything.

Taking my mind back to the show I started to think again about the other fantastic large bits of kit I saw and how much money this kind of kit would actually save me – and what excuse could I use to justify it.

But in doing so I realised there are similarities between owning precision farming kit (e.g combine, drill, large tractor etc) and owning bulls: they both spend many months doing nothing. You periodically have to maintain them both so they are ready to use when you need to use them, but they can suddenly go wrong  breaking down or, in the bull’s case, pull a ligament.

Having now totally returned to the land of reality I realise the shiny kit and gadgets I longed for earlier in the day is totally unjustifiable and won’t fit in with the farm business plans.  In fact, it would be much wiser to save the money and refrain from any unplanned loan.

Monitor Farms and Arable Benchmarking Groups

Monitor Farm events in the South-East cover real farming issues. They are held on a real farm, hosted by a farmer and help progress farming businesses through expert presentations, on-farm trials, tours and group discussions.

The benchmarking meetings we hold in the region give farmers the chance to analyse their arable business costs against other local farmers with similar enterprises. They can help farmers justify strategies and develop future possible cost saving efficiencies.

This summer we’ve got Monitor Farm meetings on the following dates:

Sittingbourne: 22 June

Basingstoke: 27 June

PaulHill

PaulHill

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