Storing farm machinery inside saves money

When snow piles up over machinery that is left outside, winter eats away at a farmer’s investment by deteriorating tires, belts, and bearing seals.
The next spring, rain will rust bare metal parts and the sun will fade the paint.
Storing machinery inside can significantly reduce that kind of damage and depreciation, according to Vern Hofman, an agricultural engineer with the North Dakota State University Extension Service.
Next to land, machinery ownership is the second-largest cost of a farming operation. So it makes good sense to protect that investment.
Hofman cited a Missouri study of implement dealers in the U.S. Northern Plains that found the trade-in value of housed equipment after five years is much greater than the value of unhoused equipment—16 percent greater for tractors, 20 percent greater for harvesting equipment, 12 percent greater for planters and drills, and five percent greater for tillage equipment.
The average increase in value for housed machinery is 13.5 percent.
Other parts of the U.S. with more precipitation, and more deterioration effects on machinery, showed resale values of housed equipment exceeded those of equipment stored outdoors by more than 20 percent.
For example, keeping $800,000 worth of tractors, combines, and planters inside instead of outside would mean saving $54,000 after five years, assuming a 50 percent trade-in value and assuming the trade-in is worth 13.5 percent more if it is housed.
Inside storage of a small tractor will increase the trade-in value by $400-$500 per year. Proper storage of a four-wheel drive model would add $1,000-$3,000 per year to the resale value.
Inside storage also will save money by reducing repairs and time in the shop. The survey revealed that housed machinery had only 7.6 percent downtime while unhoused equipment was down 14.3 percent of the time.
“During a critical season such as harvest, a combine that is not working can be costing several hundred dollars per hour,” Hofman noted.
To determine whether a new machinery storage building is a good investment, a method to allocate building costs must be determined.
The building may have alternative uses and will have a longer life than most implements, so the annual cost for the building must be determined. Then compare the cost to the expected increase in value of the machines stored on an annual basis.
“Based on increased resale value, machines such as tractors, combines, planters, drills, forage choppers, trucks, and pickups should be kept inside,” Hofman said.
“Tillage equipment should be the last to be placed inside since these pieces take up a lot of space and decline in value only slightly faster when left outside,” he added.
For tillage equipment, the deterioration that occurs to the tires and bearings usually is less than the cost of providing building space.
If a farm operator does not have enough storage space for the major pieces of equipment, it may be a good investment to rent space from a neighbour.
Keeping expensive farm machinery inside is an excellent way to cut costs and extend its life.
< *c>Dates to remember
•Oct. 2—Quality Starts Here workshop, 4-6 p.m., Devlin Hall; and
•Oct. 6—Calf sale, Stratton sales barn

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