Equipment - Factors for Consideration

  Hort Snacks - February 2017
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 In any given horticultural operation, you might find at least a half dozen pieces of equipment, ranging from tractors to various attachments and implements. Some have very specific jobs for specific crops. Others are multi-purpose and adaptable. But they all have something in common. They can be expensive, even when purchased new.

Despite the high investment cost of equipment, each is a critical component of any operation, reducing physical man-hours and increasing efficiency. Therefore, it is important to carefully weigh the pros and cons of any equipment purchase. The following are factors that might be considered during the decision-making process.

What exactly do you want or need the piece of equipment to do? Will it do what you need it to do, as it is designed and constructed, or will modification and tweaking be required first? If you start using it, will you have to change or adjust any of your processes to compensate for what this machine will accomplish?

Will the piece of equipment meet your current and future needs? In the case of a tractor, is it big enough (or small enough) to do the variety of tasks required? Is it compatible with the various implements that you need it to pull, drive, etc.? Is it compatible with your row spacing and field layouts, or will you have to make adjustments?

Can the equipment be adjusted to accomplish more than one task? Can it do more than one thing at once? Does that matter? Can it be added onto, expanded, ganged up? Can it be adjusted to work with more than a single crop?

How easy is it to get the equipment to you and where you need it? Does it have to be custom built? How far does it have to come and what will it cost to ship it to you?

Will the equipment actually increase your efficiency? In what way? In some cases, even if something isn’t exactly more efficient, it might help you to overcome a limiting factor, such as local or seasonal labour availability. In some cases, it will actually get things done faster, safer and will therefore save you a great deal of labour.

Ultimately, the price of a unit of equipment will determine how quickly you can pay for it. The higher the price, the longer (theoretically) it will take to pay it off. While price can be a limiting factor, you should also consider Affordability, which, in basic terms, is your ability to pay for the piece of equipment. A high return crop or a piece of equipment that is going to be super-efficient and helpful may pay for itself more quickly than something else.

Maintenance / Availability of Replacement Parts
Once you have a piece of equipment, it will have to be maintained, theoretically for quite some time. How easy is it to get replacement parts? Can you get them quickly and easily, particularly during peak seasons and high demand (a.k.a. high pressure) times? How expensive are the parts and how expensive are they to have shipped to you? How easy is the equipment to repair, either by yourself or by a mechanic in your area?

In the end, all of these factors should be compared when purchasing equipment. Consider both the short term and long term benefits of the equipment and then move ahead accordingly.

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For more information about the content of this document, contact Robert Spencer.
This information published to the web on January 31, 2017.