Deciding whether to buy a new piece of equipment starts with collecting data — lots of it.

“The most important thing in deciding whether to fix or replace equipment is gathering information,” Ben Bair, Regional Sales Manager for Pape Machinery Ag & Turf, said. “The more information you have, the better the decision; if it costs you a little, it’s money well spent if it helps you better understand your situation.”

Papé Machinery Agriculture & Turf operates 19 locations in California, Oregon, Washington and Idaho and sells most of John Deere’s line.

“We live in a world where things are so expensive, whether it’s equipment or repair jobs or parts themselves, there is little room for emotional decisions,” Bair said. “We can’t base things on comments like ‘I think’ or ‘I feel.’ It needs to be a data-driven scenario where we understand as much as we possibly can.”

Any inspections performed should be as detailed as possible to and make clear which components may last another year or two and which ones are worn out and need replacing this year.

Not all the information comes from the dealership; it may come from the mechanic, the bank or the accountant.

It’s also important to consider the efficiency of the current equipment. It may be less out-of-pocket expense to keep a machine, but factoring in the efficiencies that would be gained plays an important role in the decision-making process.

“Maybe it’s a fuel-efficiency thing; maybe it’s a technology thing,” Bair said. “You can’t discount the fact that some of the new equipment in today’s world is able to gather data and information the old equipment can’t gather, and that information could be invaluable in making decisions on your overall farming practices.

“It’s really important to remember there are efficiencies to be gained that are difficult to quantify but those things could lead to a huge gain in overall profitability or margins,” Bair said. “Without a doubt the trend is toward equipment that provides powerful data geared to make farms more efficient. It helps you make wise decisions that will affect the bottom line more than we’ve been able to in the past.”

Some farmers rent equipment to fill in the gaps but doing so runs the risk that what you need will not be available when you need it. Chances are lots of other farmers will be looking for that machine to do that job at the same time.

Some farmers purchase extended warranties to fend off future expenses.

“There are third-party companies that offer extended warranties but they’re not always the most reputable companies; you’ve got to make sure you understand who you’re buying from and what kind of business they’re operating,” Bair said. “Warranties are one thing, but when you buy from a reputable manufacturer with a solid footing and a solid foundation, when you get into a difficult situation or one outside the scope of warranty they’ll stand behind their products.”

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