By Dan Miller
Progressive Farmer Contributing Editor
Reliability and technological innovation. Those are two features P.J. Haynie III considers when buying new equipment for his Reedville, Va., grain operation.
Working with his father, Philip J. Haynie II, the pair farms several thousand acres of barley, wheat, soybeans and corn. They run a large line of equipment, including four four-wheel tractors and nine other tractors, to do an assortment of work in the field and around the farm. Some are outdated tractors kept on their farm as an inexpensive source of horsepower (they otherwise have little or no trade-in value).
"We look at fuel economy and performance," Haynie said. "Price is a factor, but so is [efficiency]."
Gary Price runs 77 Ranch, near Blooming Grove, Texas, an hour's drive outside Dallas/Fort Worth. There are times when he keeps tractors busy every day. But then there are days when they sit idle, sometimes for weeks at a time. He looks for dependability. "I may let a tractor sit 60 days before I get on it, and then we may use it every day for 60 days."
Price doesn't run a large line of equipment -- and it's not new. Among equipment salesmen, he would be considered an extremely tough sell. Two tractors are very old. He has a 40-year-old John Deere and a 45-year-old Massey Ferguson. They are used around his cow/calf operation to handle grain and for feeding.
"Used fits our needs," said Price, explaining a good amount of the work done around his ranch is hired. For example, someone other than Price does most of the fencing and haying.
Haynie and Price are good examples of the inclinations of farmers and ranchers included in a recent Case IH equipment survey. The one-time survey of 800 crop and livestock producers across North America was commissioned to gather information about their equipment needs and to learn about their priorities when looking for new equipment.
Producers who reported a large portion of their income coming from crops rank reliability, resale value and technological innovation among their top priorities when purchasing equipment. Livestock producers rank low-maintenance and ease of repair at the top of their lists.
"This tells me that when they buy one piece of equipment from a given manufacturer, they are already thinking about the next potential purchase," said Dan Danford, a spokesman for Case. "It confirms that while professional producers ultimately purchase their equipment based on how [it fits] their operation, they would rather it come from the most innovative provider."
PRODUCTIVE FOR EVERY ACRE
Producers want the best economic use of every acre they manage, the Case survey shows. In other words, they expect to get the most productivity possible for every hour the equipment is operating.
"A big difference between livestock and crop producers when it comes to equipment is usage," said Ryan Drollette in a news release from Case IH announcing the survey results. Drollette is a farm-management specialist from Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.
Livestock producers may run their equipment every single day or, like Price, for extended periods of time after periods of not being used. Meanwhile, crop producers are running equipment for longer periods of time during selected seasons. The usage differences mean livestock producers are performing maintenance more frequently. For them, ease of maintenance and ease of repair are important.
"If I can head out to the barn and do my daily maintenance check without having to crawl around the machine, I can get to work that much sooner," said Drollette, a former dairyman.
Longevity also is important. Livestock producers, according to the survey, tend to keep their equipment for five to 10 years -- or maybe, 40 years, as Price reveals.
"You really need to be able to justify the expense," Price said. "I just don't want it sitting around, not being used."
Crop producers trade their equipment more frequently, according to the survey. Resale value is important to them, as is a proven manufacturing history of ever-improving technological innovations.
"On new equipment, we want to know about the technology; can the tractor talk to the planter, is there good tractor to implement communication," Haynie said.
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