Many people dream of owning a farm. Hobby farms and beginners’ farms are becoming increasingly popular in Australia, and those who managed to turn their dreams into reality know that a “hobby” farm or any type of farming is actually a lot of work!
Before you look for land, you must define a clear strategy and “keep it real”. What is it that you will be doing with this land? Do you want to focus on growing crops and vegetables, and if so, what kind? Would you rather grow hay or raise farm animals? This is a vital step as, if done correctly, it can save you a lot of time and money, as miscalculating can lead to playing catch up.
No matter how big your farm is, you are likely to need to invest in farm equipment! Unsurprisingly, these are not cheap and require careful consideration! Do I really need this? Will this save me time/money? Is it better to buy or hire? Can I get a loan for farm equipment?
As farming has advanced considerably over the past two decades, with technology having an increasing impact on equipment and techniques, a number of new machines have hit the market, giving farmers a much wider range of options to choose from – the risk of “shiny object syndrome” is real!
Must-Have Equipment for Small – Mid-Sized Farms
To ensure you don’t waste money, it’s imperative that you do your research before buying your equipment. Farming equipment is typically quite costly, so you want to take your time before parting with your money. Having said that, there are a few essential pieces of equipment that you should acquire, regardless of what type of farm you are looking to operate. The following is a rundown of the staples you will need on your farm.
The Best Vehicles for Small Farms
Pick up Truck / Utility Vehicle
These have been around for over a hundred years, and it feels like they will stick around for hundreds more. These days you get luxury pickup trucks, which go for hundreds of thousands of dollars and combine luxury with practicality. Though what you need for your farm is a vehicle equivalent to a workhorse.
This will likely be the most used mode of transport on your farm. With a flat wide bed at the back, you can load it with all types of tools, machinery, materials and, in some cases, even livestock. It’s even highly effective when hooking a trailer onto the back of it and transporting large amounts of cattle, horses, crops etc.
Purpose-built pickup trucks are highly durable and are great for dirt roads and off-roading. Their longevity adds to their value, and as far as value for money is concerned, you can’t get a much better deal than investing in a solid utility vehicle.
When owning a farm, looking out onto grassland adds to the charm of the lifestyle. However, we’ve all seen our back gardens become overgrown due to laziness or quick growth, and we know how messy and unkempt they can look.
When you have acres of grass, you can’t spend hours upon hours pushing a manual lawn mower around trying to trim the grass, as that is a full-time job in itself. A garden tractor is much easier on the body and far more efficient. The necessity to keep the grass trimmed is not just for its aesthetics, but also overgrown grass can invite a number of unwanted animals.
Compact Utility Tractor
A happy in-between which has more uses than a utility vehicle and is smaller in size and more agile than a normal tractor. It’s not a necessity for farms under 150 acres, however, anything larger is worth its weight in gold. Fast and powerful, it comes with a number of tools and heads, such as box scrapers, box blades, mulch finisher, aerator, buckets and rear and front blades. It’s also a great option for towing and transporting and can be a substitute for a good mower!
Tray Back Ute (HiLux)
While we’re on the topic of strong, practical vehicles that are easy on the wallet, four-wheel drive utes steal the show. The HiLux, along with Ranger, Navara and a few other single and dual-cab options, allow for a reasonable motor in either petrol or diesel options – diesel being even cheaper. The trays in single-cab models are larger and can accommodate tubs for farm work.
Utility vehicles (UTV) and all-terrain vehicles (ATV) are probably the most fun and price-friendly equipment to own for a small farm! A quad bike is a multi-purpose wonder and can be used for any number of farm practices, from hauling harvest and spraying pesticides to simply travelling a length at a time.
With low centers of gravity, lighter bodies and sturdy tires, ATVs and UTVs are a durable, budget investment that can traverse places that even bulky trucks can’t reach.
The Best Tools for Small Farms
While manual labor in farming can help to lower stress and regulate your health, equipment today far surpasses the need for hand tools and manpower. Taking into account the size and style of one’s hobby farm, any of these tools are a must-have in your equipment lineup:
Sets of good fencing pliers can elevate your farming experience considerably. With options that have a range of functions, a lightweight set of pliers with good grip holds can help in any number of farming tasks, such as; cabling, fencing, hammering, cutting, and bending.
Bulkier UTVs and compact tractors can work to load, excavate, scoop and move any number and volume of items. Using just the back-end of a vehicle can be a misstep, as there are so many more uses you can get out of your front-end attachments. There are a number of tools you can hook onto your utility vehicle to handle loads of soil, manure, rocks, debris, waste, or even seeds and produce. If you cannot afford a slasher – a machine for cutting unwanted grass – you can always attach a front-end implement that allows you to cut shrubs, pasture toppings, and tall/unwanted plants with more control.
Made famous by villains in horror movies, the chainsaw is one of the most useful tools any farmer can carry. Lightweight and highly effective, the chainsaw can save you a lot of time and a ton of energy. Whether simply pruning hedges and bushes or falling huge trees in a matter of minutes, the chainsaw is a must-have. However, be careful, as mistakes can be unforgiving!
Box blades, or even rear blades, are great for digging ditches, maintaining roads, levelling out soil and fields and even building paths. A versatile and necessary piece of equipment for your small-scale farm, it can help in maintaining your land and pastures.
Rotary tillers are important for small-scale vegetable farmers – they help in loosening and preparing the soil for planting seeds and for covering crops in fields. They are also particularly helpful for farms with grain or cotton crops.
Post Hole Digger
Keeping a boundary for your lot or acreage is essential to keeping any number of threats and pests from your farm. A good investment to maximise efficient farming is one that can help automate your building projects and reduce the time spent on manual labor. Post-hole diggers can help with building decks, sheds, digging holes for trees and fences.
What is the best way to spread plant nutrients on a small farm?
Sprays are a necessary farm tool for weed spraying, pesticides (if you use them), nutrient sprays for vegetables.
Hydraulic sprays contain tanks with a pump, nozzle, pressure gauge and valves to control and regulate the power and volume of the liquid. Low-volume sprayers are considerably less powerful in stream and have larger droplet size.
To make sure you get a more uniform coverage of spray, the higher-pressure equipment provides smaller droplets from mist or fog applicators and ensures the target is reached. Some spray tools that can help you in making sure you get all the bugs and unwanted bacteria away from your farm are:
What is the difference between a spray rig and a spot sprayer?
The function of a sprayer can be adjusted based on how it is mounted on a vehicle. A spray rig can be matched to your vehicle for all types of terrain and fields. ATV sprayers, Ranger sprayers and other spray rigs can all be adjusted to maximize the reach of the spray. Water tanks with nozzle and pressure equipment attachments can be
UTV spot sprayers, designed especially for the light-weight, compact and sturdy vehicle, can range from 150 to 300 liters, specifically catering to load limits.
Sprayers for ATVs, such as weed sprayers, can also reach difficult-to-access spots in your farm and use less fuel while they’re at it, carrying 50 to 200 gallons in the tank.
Final Thoughts on Farm Equipment
Remember, you will always need to evaluate what tools will suit your farm best before you embark on your farming journey. While your list does depend on the type of farm and the size of land you’re working with, this guide for basic small farm equipment options should help in filtering the best tools to get you started. With these essential pieces of equipment, you can elevate your farming experience today!