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NAMPO 2019: To buy or not? – That is the question!

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The farming community is all hustle and bustle and no wonder – May is NAMPO time, the agricultural show window where more and more exhibitors and visitors throng every year to show and see and learn about new developments in agriculture.

The wise farmer will ask himself how he should approach the exhibits and implement demonstrations. What do I really need? And what can I afford? Or the crux of the matter – what extra expenditure/capital can my farm afford?

The honest answer is: Apply hard and clear facts to come to the best possible informed decision because farming is a complex business that has to be managed in terms of reliable and proven business principles.

We live in uncertain times; agriculture perhaps more so. Prominent people profess from platforms that farmers should change their methods just because they want to do so. They should rather ensure that, what they plan, was well and truly considered and that purchases conform to principles of sound, ingenious mechanisation.

Mechanisation of a farm demands the determination of mechanical devices (tractors, implements and equipment) required for a specific branch of farming to allow that all mechanisation demands can be met timely and efficiently and executed in the most economical manner possible.

Is it necessary to buy at Nampo?

In the first instance exhibitors certainly want to show off their latest products and new technology to the farmer, but then they also want to sell or, at least, get a firm order for a product, or maybe settle for an arrangement to demonstrate a specific implement on the farm.

There are times when a special offer, or financial fact such as a fuel price increase, or a weakening rand, may prompt a wish to buy immediately. However, the wise farmer will have a ready mechanisation plan indicating the demands of his business before deciding on any new purchase.

Planning has become a modern keyword. There are few environments in which the content and meaning of this word is not keenly sought. The value and principles of planning is stressed in every speech from every podium – plans to govern, farm, manage, plans against monsters of inflation, and devaluation . . . There is almost no environment where heads are not put together to formulate plans improve on the existing plans. The same applies to the agricultural environment, where most farming sectors are engaged in a struggle to keep head above water, and where it has become imperative that farmers should do proper planning for the acquisitioning of a further tractor or other farm implements.

Is it necessary to consider bigger equipment?

At the NAMP show from the smallest to the biggest implement and equipment will be on display, which will raise the question if a farmer needs to invest in bigger implements. It has become clear from various mechanisation plans that, for a kilowatt/hectare relation from 0,5 to 0,75, tractors ranging over a series of kilowatt sizes should be able to complete tasks within the planned time limits.

When there is a move towards bigger tractors and planters and other implements, it can only be justified if it complies with the definition of mechanisation as stated above.

It is also necessary to consider the cost factors of the various sectors on the farm. Mechanisation amounts to approximately 25% of total farming expenditure and about 15% of total production value. Labour is responsible for about 15% of total farming costs and some 9% of gross production value. Consequently these two items represent about 40% of all farming costs, and careful planning has become imperative to contribute towards viable farming success. Impulsive decisions to buy left and right can influence this success factor to become absolutely negative.

A cost guide as planning aid

The Mechanisation Guide, compiled by JP, ME en CF le Roux, appears this year for the thirtieth time and is used country-wide by various sectors to calculate the exact cost of different tilling methods. The guide makes it possible to read the cost per hour or per hectare of tractors with suitable implements, separately or as combination, from the tables. The work tempo in ha/10 hour day, and fuel consumption in litre/hour or litre/ha is also shown.

The figures are handy when applied to do mechanisation planning and/or to calculate a cost comparison between different tilling systems. Thirty-one tractor classes, as well as tractors with caterpillar tracks, self-driven sprayers and harvester combines are included in the guide.

In Table 1 the cost per hectare is given for a number of four wheel drive tractors, equipped with the correct width offset disc harrows. The guide can be used to pair various combinations and the diesel consumption, as well as the cost per hectare, can be calculated.

The Mechanisation Guide can be ordered from Koos le Roux, cellphone 082-828-9531, or by email at koosleroux@live.co.za.

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