To pick your best buys for the farm, you could wade through reams of data from companies. You could wait for university data and hire a consultant. Or you could take a shortcut — just ask other farmers what they like. To get you started, here are some of the products Team FIN farmers bought without regret.
Tom Henry, Westhope, ND
This summer I installed an Ag Leader PF 3000 Pro yield monitor with moisture tester on my 1998 R62 Gleaner combine. I paid about $4,600 for it. My hired man and I installed it in less than a day. The instructions were great, and any special tools needed for the install were included. The system performed flawlessly all season. I've never bought an aftermarket product that worked that well. I've got some great yield maps that I will have to evaluate over the winter.
Jeff Ryan, Cresco, IA
The best money we've ever spent on equipment for the farm is the circular tub/working chute/palpation chute we bought from Linn Enterprises in Linn, KS. It was certainly not the cheapest one available, but the rugged construction and some of the design features on it have made handling cattle extremely easy ever since. Linn put solid sides on its circular working chutes that extend much higher than the sides of other chutes. If the cow can't see out, she will realize her only option is straight ahead. We put it in sometime in June 1999. Last month, we preg checked, vaccinated and poured 145 cows and heifers in two and a half hours. Afterwards, my vet asked how long I'd had the system. I said, “Since June 1999, and there have been no regrets ever since!”
Bob Wietharn, Clay Center, KS
I am not sure if I ever go a single day without using my Gehl skid loader. We move pigs around in a pig cart that we attach to the front. We move pallets of seed corn, chemicals, iron and bags of feed. It moves dirt, rock or any other bulk material. It's handy for moving trailers around, especially backing our four-wheel trailer into the shed. The backhoe attachment helped us do footings for pivot pads, water lines and electrical line.
Erik Petry, Rochelle, IL
In my opinion, Monsanto's new corn rootworm-resistant corn is the single most important thing to come to agriculture in a long time. I had an opportunity to have a trial use of this new product, and I have seen upwards of a 5- to 10-bu. increase per acre by using the rootworm-resistant corn versus conventional corn used with insecticide. Although it is not necessarily increasing the yield, it is protecting the yield that already exists but is being destroyed by rootworms. In addition, you do not have the dangerous insecticide to handle in the spring, and it has season-long control.
Scott McPheeters, Gothenburg, NE
Two tools come to mind. First, I like the ½-in. drive, 18v Milwaukee cordless impact wrench that I tried for a Team FIN test. I ended up liking it so much that I bought it. I use it every day and it saves a lot of time wrenching! The second thing is a set of gear wrenches. These are truly one of the best purchases I have made in the last couple years. I gave a set to all of my employees because they always had mine when I wasn't looking!
Steve Webb, Needham, IN
The Centerline lightbar I bought through TeeJet company has been my best value. It was easy to install because it is a wireless system and it has a very compact, curved design. The readout is very easy to read in any light conditions. The display gives data about vehicle speed, area covered, track error and other information. Most important is that it keeps me driving a straight line with very little effort. Even my dad likes it, and he's not usually enthused about technology. I think we paid around $3,200 for the complete system, and it's been worth every penny.
Daryl Bridenbaugh, Pandora, OH
My 7710 John Deere tractor is my best buy ever. The engine runs smoothly and quietly and has a lot more low- and medium-range power than another tractor I have that has 30 more horsepower. The fuel economy is good and the cab is very comfortable. I once ran it all night without any rest.