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Pickup tips

Jeff Caldwell 12/14/2012 @ 11:29am Multimedia Editor for Agriculture.com and Successful Farming magazine.

A pickup is more than a way to get from point A to point B. It's likely your farm's office, shop, tool chest and more.

And, most farmers are fairly loyal when it comes to buying pickups. More than half of the farmers responding to a recent Agriculture.com poll say their next truck will be the same brand as they always buy. Brand loyalty is a huge factor in this purchase decision.

Just like other machines on the farm, you can get a pickup truck that's a bare-bones workhorse, or you can spend more on a model that's got all the bells and whistles. "But, there are a few constants among this wide range," says Roger Hoy, University of Nebraska Extension ag engineer. And, in terms of variables like fuel efficiency, pickups, ATVs and tractors aren't altogether different.

"Miles per gallon is one way of expressing efficiency, as efficiency is commonly determined as the desired output divided by the input necessary to achieve that output. For tractors, the desired output is work done, typically determined as power output multiplied by the time over which that power was delivered. As with pickups, the input is typically represented by the amount of fuel burned to accomplish that work," Hoy says. "Specific fuel consumption for a specific operating point is obtained by dividing the power output by the fuel consumption."

When you're making a pickup purchase decision, it's important not only to account for things like fuel efficiency, but also the "bells and whistles." Weigh how much you want to pay versus what you can and can't live without, advises Iowa State University Extension ag engineer Mark Hanna.

"In trucks specifically, a lot of times you can see how a specific feature compares to some in other categories you're looking at. Try and also objectively decide if that feature's important to you in the way you'll be using that truck," Hanna says. "Also, how costly is picking up that feature on this particular product. Maybe it's something you can add later on without a whole lot of additional cost. Just because the feature's there doesn't always mean you need it."

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