Around the world, farmers are talking about how rising equipment costs are adding to the pressure they’re already feeling, working in an industry so transformed by globalisation.
In Germany, a farmer will tell you how two harvesters now cost what five did, back in the 90s. In America, another discusses the challenge of still paying off tractors years after buying them. Equipment upgrades requiring expensive new parts are frustrating farm managers in China.
And yet, Shell Lubricants’ latest global research shows nearly half of all farmers don’t prioritise maintaining and protecting the equipment they have currently. It is only when equipment breaks down that they realise the effect on their operation. As a result, eight out of 10 farmers are forced to spend hard-earned money repairing broken and unreliable machines.
Farming is a capital-intensive business. Aside from the cost of the land, particularly in developed nations, buying workhorse vehicles like tractors or harvesters can be hugely impactful. For static machinery on dairy or wheat farms, or custom-made equipment, the required investment can be even higher.
Keeping up with constantly changing regulations, new technology, extreme weather and rising energy costs make turning a profit even more difficult. Farmers are rarely cash-rich and some are diversifying into niche markets or sharing equipment with new Uber-like models.
In this environment, valuable assets have to perform well - for as long as possible. If a large four-wheel-drive tractor and cab costs over US $75,000 to buy, and is used for 20 days a year, it needs to last 25 years to earn its keep. On top of that, it needs to remain in peak condition to handle the long, gruelling days out in the fields.
When it comes to equipment that is used more frequently, and static machinery that runs daily, maintenance is even more crucial. For machines that are customised to fit into specific building types or serve a specific purpose - replacing these assets can lead to enormous expense. In short, farmers need agricultural machinery that runs effectively and efficiently on any terrain, come rain or shine. Longevity is critical, as is availability.