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Significant Cost Savings With Used Precision Ag Equipment

The solution to Kory Schafer and Adam Babl’s problem of finding an affordable guidance system for their sprayer presented itself at their local dealership.

“The sprayer [a John Deere 4710] wasn’t equipped with either guidance control or rate and section control,” says Schafer. He and Babl co-own GKS Farms of Albion, Nebraska. “We farm in 20-inch rows and spray across the rows, and we wanted to run in previous tracks on a second spraying. So guidance was a must.”

Schafer (pictured above, left) and Babl turned to a used monitor and receiver that were being sold by Green Line Equipment in their Albion, Nebraska, outlet. “We priced a new unit. With the price of corn and soybeans, we needed something more affordable,” Babl says.

The used Deere GreenStar 1800 display, loaded with guidance and sprayer control, and a StarFire iTC receiver were purchased for 35% to 40% less than a new display and receiver by the farming team. “We also had the activation fee for RTK,” Schafer adds.

GKS Farms joins a growing list of farmers who are capitalizing on the savings gained by purchasing used precision equipment. “Our business started taking off around six years ago,” says Jon Bickel of Used Precision Ag. “I notice there are now quite a few websites such as ours that are listing equipment.”

Bickel began buying, selling, and consigning used precision 12 years ago. The equipment he sells is reconditioned (which includes removing old data and upgrading firmware) and includes a three- to five-year warranty. “The big change since then is, besides a growth in business, now farmers realize that the used monitors or receivers in their equipment have value.”

The latest and fastest-growing category of used equipment at John Deere’s dealer site, machinefinder.com, is precision ag. At press time, that site had nearly 1,000 listings of displays, controllers, receivers, cabling, and activations.  

Dealerships like Green Line Equipment have begun removing precision gear from trade-ins and listing the items on their websites.

“We noticed that lots of monitors and displays were being stored on shelves never to be used again, both on farms and at our dealerships,” notes Ashley Babl of Green Line (wife of Adam Babl). “We saw the potential in repurposing that equipment, especially now that commodity prices are lower. Farmers are looking for values.”

The advantage for a dealership, Ashley feels, is the opportunity to give farmers – who couldn’t afford that new precision equipment – a way to “maximize the bottom line and to cut input costs,” she says. “If we can help by selling a used sprayer section control, for example, and that saves money, then we’re providing a much-needed service in today’s economy.”

GKS Farms’ first purchase has already whetted Schafer and Babl’s appetite for similar equipment. They’re now looking for used guidance gear for their primary tillage tractor. 

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