The cost of farm equipment is something that can make starting a farm feel impossible. Tractors alone can cost upwards of $30,000, and then there are all the implements and attachments that are specific to each agricultural activity. In order to assist farmers in having access to more equipment, the Buncombe County Soil & Water District and Buncombe Cooperative Extension Service have each purchased several common tractor implements. Purchased through TVA Ag and Forestry Fund grants, these tools are available for local farmers to rent from the respective offices for minimal fees. Use of such equipment can result in higher farm profits by increasing efficiency and land productivity.
To help increase community knowledge of the program and show how each machine operates, SAHC, Buncombe County Soil & Water District, and Buncombe Cooperative Extension Service teamed up to provide an equipment demo day free to the public. The implements demonstrated included were a weed wiper, a hydraulic post driver, a bed maker and mulcher, and a transplanter. On October 1st, 20 local farmers and agency personnel met at the SAHC Community Farm to see these machines in action.
The four implements demonstrated could increase productivity on almost any farm. The Grassworks Weed Wiper is a simple trailer-hitch attachment that can be pulled either by a tractor or by a pick up truck. It is unique in that it applies herbicide only the tallest plants, thus avoiding indiscriminate die-off. The Shaver hydraulic post driver cuts post setting time to just a few minutes. You do not even need to start a pilot hole! This makes the idea of building acres of fence-line a lot more manageable.
The bed maker/mulcher is for farmers that would like to either do unformed raised beds or are working in plasti-culture. With a few adjustments the machine can run hundreds of feet of even rows with both drip tape and plastic mulch. The Rain Flo transplanter is an excellent machine that both punches a hole for transplants and waters that space. The riders on the machine simply place the plugs into the holes as they roll by.
All of the farmers at the demo expressed interest in the machines and how having them available could increase their productivity and efficiency. Having these resources available as daily rentals will allow more farmers to experiment with different implements and farming techniques, without the risk of purchasing each implement alone.