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If you are one of the 40,000+ workers in the agriculture sector expected to descend upon the East of England Showground near Peterborough for this year’s LAMMA show – the UK’s Leading Farm Machinery, Equipment and Services Show, then you are probably mulling over the following options.
Do I buy new, buy second hand, or stick with what I have?
LAMMA, which has been the place to buy farming equipment in the UK since the event was first held way back in 1992, caters for all 3 options; from the shiny, new, and technologically advanced, to the second hand “Dealer’s Den” market, to the Workshop Area, where the thrifty can find the tools they need to fix their ailing machinery.
The biggest temptation is likely to buy new, but although the latest machinery comes with any number of bleeding edge, tech-inspired tools designed to make farmers lives easier and their operations exponentially more efficient, there are pitfalls, too.
An article in Wired magazine from 2015 argues that high tech tractors are “increasingly a liability”, due to the fact that the tech can be unreliable and buggy, hard to replace or repair without calling in a specialist, and ultimately, incapable of delivering the much-vaunted efficiencies promised.
“Modifications and troubleshooting require diagnostic software that farmers can’t have”, argues Kyle Wiens, the founder of iFixit, an online DIY community that educates people about repairing their gear rather than spending unnecessarily on new products.
Often, the programming on the latest tractor models is owned and administered by the parent company, who, accidentally or otherwise, hold farmers to ransom by limiting access to their diagnostic software. The new products are often prohibitively expensive, too. The solution could lie in a product called Farm Hack, an online community dedicated to creating software repair hacks for farming machinery.
The debate about new vs old rages amongst the farming community in Australia, where farmers often find themselves torn between a brand, spanking new product with a range of “bells and whistles” they do not really need, or the risk of ending up with “a costly lemon that spends more time out of action than making you money.”
The Weekly Times weighs the pros and cons of old vs new, focusing on cost; new tractors are more expensive; reliability; but they come with a warrant; technology; do you really need GPS technology to plough the same field you have been farming for decades? And finally, availability; what specs can you actually get your hands on?
With prices for combines, tractors, and other sophisticated agricultural machinery often running into 6 figures, it’s a decision that every farmer will want to get right.
One way to make a significant saving on a new purchase is to look at buying machinery overseas, where it is often game-changingly cheaper, and importing it back into the UK, or indeed vice versa. There are risks involved, but thankfully a quick search on Google reveals that there are many companies out there dedicated to helping out farmers looking to bring their machinery in from abroad.
Of course, if you are buying your machinery in a different country, you’ll want to be working with a broker who can get you the best overseas money transfer rates on the market.