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Buying Used Precision Ag Equipment

Once an emerging marketplace, availability of used precision electronics has expanded rapidly in recent years.

Fascinated with the potential new use of the used precision agricultural gear she found in boxes sitting on the backroom shelves of the John Deere dealership where she works, Ashley Babl set about to resell the electronics to “provide operators with an old steering wheel guidance system. That’s one example of an affordable way to make an upgrade,” she explains.  

Acting on instinct that this gear could be resold, she encouraged Green Line Equipment to begin marketing monitors, receivers, and related harnesses and cables to farmers looking to add precision ag to their equipment while still operating on a budget. “I was surprised, at first, to discover there are a lot of farmers as well as equipment jockeys who are looking for older precision ag gear,” Babl says. 

That trend is confirmed by Jon Bickel of Used Precision Ag Solutions out of Fort Wayne, Indiana, who began reselling used precision electronics in 2003. “Back then, there were very few of us in the market,” Bickel recalls. “This market segment has really taken off in the last five to seven years.”

So much so, that Bickel and assistant Brian Palmer are kept busy year-round buying, selling, and consigning all brands and all varieties (including flow controls, lightbars, yield monitors, etc.) of used precision ag equipment. 

Both Babl and Bickel report that lower commodity prices have certainly spurred interest in used electronics. “It provides an affordable alternative to new if you’re looking to upgrade a used tractor or sprayer with RTK guidance, for example,” Babl says. “If we (Green Line) can help you cut input costs by retrofitting a sprayer with a used section control system, we are doing you a service.”

sell your used gear

Bickel strongly urges you to get out those boxes of old electronics in storage and consider selling that equipment. “You would be surprised at how much it’s worth,” he adds. “Some monitors we sell are 15 to 20 years old. They don’t bring much money, but they’re still certainly useful for some jobs like steering wheel guidance or basic monitoring and control.”

advice for buying used electronics

Bickel also offers the following advice when shopping for used electronic displays, controls, and receivers.

  • Determine how old the monitor is. If this information is not listed at the auction or online, then obtain the serial number on the device. With this information, you can contact the manufacturer and determine how old the display is. “This is crucial when it comes to touch screens,” Bickel explains. “Screens often last only five to six years, and then they tend to wear out. If the display is older than that, you may have to replace the touch screen, which adds further expense to the purchase decision.”
  • Check to see what comes with the display. “A display’s value varies greatly if it’s sold alone or complete with all cards, activations, cabling, mounts, and receiver dome,” Bickel says. “A complete unit is more valuable.” (See story below for a price comparison.) 
  • Try to power up the monitor to determine what firmware is activated. “You really can’t tell what is activated on a monitor unless it can be turned on,” Bickel explains. “You may end up buying a monitor for, let’s say, $4,000 to $5,000. Purchasing the activations could cost you an additional $10,000 or more.”
  • Don’t expect the display or receiver to be covered by a warranty. “Typically, warranties on a monitor extend only one to two years. If the display is still under warranty, then most manufacturers will transfer that coverage over to you after the purchase.”
  • Purchase a display in its original box and with an owner’s manual, if possible. “Often, you can download the manual at the manufacturer website, or we have copies,” Bickel adds. “As for a display being sold in its original packaging, that shows effort was made to take care of it.” 

See the Pocket Price Guide for asking prices on precision ag displays.

electronics values vary greatly by how they are equipped

As Jon Bickel said in the story above, the value of precision ag equipment varies greatly depending on what is included in the sale. Below are auction price differences for John Deere GS2 2600 displays with and without various activations and ancillary gear.

  • $14,000 - $17,000: 2011-2012 GS2 2600 displays, SF2-ready with Starfire ITC receiver, Autotrac SF2 and Pivot Pro activations, and with all mounts, cabling, and harnesses.
  • $8,250 - $9,500: 2010-2012 GS2 2600 display only with AutoTrac SF2, Swath Control Pro or Pivot Pro activations, and without receiver, mounts, and cabling.
  • $2,500 to $3,750: 2011 to 2013 GS2 2600 display only.

“The best advice I can give is to get on the internet and search for both dealer or retailer asking prices as well as recent sales of the equipment you need,” Bickel urges. “A good starting pricing point is 50% of what it sold for new. If it’s a hot item, like guidance systems, it might be worth 70% to 80% of the new price. Contact us for advice at usedprecisionag.com.”

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