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Equipment for Beginning Row Crop Farmers - Fresh Dirt from the Farmer Mentor

Beginning Farmer: I am looking for a short list of equipment for the beginning row crop farmer. Could you do a quick one for me off the top of your head?
 
Farmer Mentor: This is a pretty common question and a difficult one to answer. So much depends on the scale of the operation, the crops to be produced, the soil type and whether or not cover cropping will be utilized. I'll break it down by scale from 2 acres up to 20 acres and assume that the grower will be utilizing cover crops and producing a diversity of crops. I will also attempt to list the implements in order of priority. The other assumption we have to make is that the grower has the necessary “support” tools and infrastructure including storage and shed space, a basic assortment of necessary wrenches, grease gun, fuel storage, lubricants, battery charger, air compressor, etc. etc.  I'm not even going to get into other equipment categories like propagation, irrigation, marketing etc. The other equipment category that is often a challenging one is compost application. If a small-scale grower wants to have the capability to apply compost then he or she would need a compost spreader and front loader. Most larger farms can have this done by a custom compost applicator but this is just not possible for smaller growers. Doing this task by hand is just not economically viable on more than maybe a thousand square feet.
 

2 to 5 acres:

  • 30 HP diesel 4X4 tractor (compact utility configuration with decent clearance, "Ag" tires, three point hitch, PTO, low gearing, upright exhaust, power steering, auxiliary hydraulics etc.)
  • 5 foot three point rototiller
  • double tool bar and “A” frame (5.5 feet wide) with assortment of clamps, standards, Shovels, sweeps etc.
  • Push planter
  • Various hand and push cultivation tools
  • Single three point ripper shank capable of running 2 feet deep
  • Bed shaper/marker
  • Three point heavy tandem disc
  • Flail mower
  • 6 foot spring-tooth cultivator
  • Box scraper
  • Under-cutter
  • Three point fork lift attachment for moving harvest bins etc.
  • Hand crank broadcaster for broadcasting cover crop seed
  • Backpack flamer
 

5 to 10 acres:

  • 40 HP diesel 4X4 tractor (row crop configuration with good ground clearance, 12 inch wide tires, as well as all the amenities mentioned above)
  • 6 foot three point rototiller
  • Double tool bar and "A" frame (6.6 feet wide) with assortment of clamps standards, Shovels, sweeps
  • Rolling cultivator
  • Bed shaper with vegetable seeders
  • Three point ripper (two shank) capable of running 2 feet deep
  • Three point heavy tandem disc
  • Flail mower
  • 6 foot spring-tooth cultivator
  • Box scraper
  • Under-cutter
  • Three point fork lift attachment for moving harvest bins etc.
  • Three point three bar cultivator with sweeps, knives, disc hillers etc. for cultivation of Furrow bottoms and bed sides
  • Three point seed broadcaster for cover crop seeding
  • Backpack flamer
 

10 to 20 acres:

  • 60 HP diesel 4X4 tractor with wide tires and weights for pulling discs, rippers etc.
  • 25 to 30 HP 2 WD tractor (row crop configuration/high clearance, three point etc.)
  • 6 foot three point rototiller
  • Rolling cultivator
  • Bed shaper with vegetable seeders
  • Three point ripper (three shank) capable of running 2 feet deep
  • Off set wheel disc 7 feet wide with ring roller
  • Flail mower
  • 8 foot spring-tooth cultivator
  • Hydraulic wheel scraper (6 foot)
  • Under-cutter
  • Three point fork lift attachment for moving harvest bins etc.
  • Three point three bar cultivator with sweeps, knives, disc hillers etc. for cultivation of Furrow bottoms and bed sides
  • Grain drill for cover crop seeding
  • Mechanical spading machine (6 feet wide)
  • Three point heavy tandem disc with tool bar and shovels for recycling beds
  • Terracing blade for making drain ditches etc.