As we have moved into the office work season, we are starting to think about equipment decisions for next year. This starts with the basics of what practices we are going to use.
Much of our fall tillage this year was vertical tillage, which will allow operations to lean toward reduced, strip, and no-till scenarios. With this in mind we have prioritized what improvements we will consider. Large frame tractors will see less use in spring 2021, so upgrades there will fall off the list unless a great deal comes along.
Last week dad had a follow up visit from the John Deere dealer who demonstrated a combine to us. He hasn’t made the sale yet, and we will likely push this item another year. However, during the visit we confirmed what we already had figured out: There is a shortage of late model farm equipment. Farmers weren’t buying so manufacturers weren’t building much the last few years.
We believe this because we have been looking to update a 2014 tractor that just doesn’t fit our operation any more. (It has Continuously Variable Transmission and nobody wants to drive it.) Though there have been few choices when looking to trade, we do have a few tractors on the list, and hope to make a decision soon. On the up side our tractor should be worth a premium because of the low hours.
More irrigation systems
Probably the biggest equipment upgrade we are considering is adding more irrigation systems and wells. This year, irrigation added up to 100 bpa in corn and 30 bpa in soybeans; last year it wasn’t quite as much, but still substantially more than our year-to-year expectations.
I’ve actually been pricing systems since September, but I have yet to finalize purchase plans. We are waiting for a couple of test wells to be drilled to make sure the water supply will support fields we want to cover. You have to have the water before the steel will do you any good!
Another item we are looking at is a land roller. This was the first year we tried one. We liked it, if for nothing else, harvestability. Rocks were beat into the ground instead of sitting on top waiting to come into the draper head.
On the 300 acres we ran a roller last year, I only stopped the combine one time for a rock that came into the head. Though this is a consideration for next year, we will likely rent one again and evaluate if we are also getting a stand improvement from better seed-to-soil contact.
Of course, all these considerations are in flux. Most decisions won’t be made until we hear from the accountant and have a handle on how 2020 actually turned out.