Owning a farm tractor has similar operating costs to a consumer's automobile. Like a regular car, a farmer must maintain a tractor and ensure it stays within operating parameters to remain an effective tool of his trade. Operating costs are also affected by how much a farmer uses a tractor and total acreage of the land in question.
Cost Per Acre
The operating costs of farm equipment, including a tractor, depend largely on the total number of acres the farmer is tending. The larger the area, the higher the cost per acre the farmer must pay to maintain farming equipment. According to Iowa State University's website, acquiring proper equipment is essential to keeping a farmer's cost per acre maintenance to £16 per acre. Costs higher than this mark tend to stretch a farmer's capital and may make dealing with equipment breakdowns harder because of the lack of available resources.
A tractor needs fuel to operate. The cost of purchasing fuel can vary depending on if the tractor uses an ethanol or gasoline-based fuel and how often the farmer uses the equipment. Diesel fuel usually costs more than unleaded gasoline per gallon, and while ethanol may be a cheaper source of fuel in some places, it also produces lower fuel economy. A farmer must chart ahead to determine fuel costs for seasons where the tractor is in heavy use and estimate how much fuel he needs to run the equipment.
Cost of Depreciation
Any piece of equipment loses value over time. A tractor is no exception to this rule. As wear and tear accumulates, the likelihood of breakdown increases. A farmer must invest in regular maintenance and performance evaluations of his farm equipment to keep the tractor in top working condition for as long as possible. This means regular fluid changes, belt changes and tests of moving components. Regularly scheduled maintenance can detect a problem with a tractor before it becomes a major issue that impacts performance or stops the tractor from operating altogether.
Taxes, Insurance and Storage
Many states require farmers to pay property taxes on farm equipment like tractors. The tax rate varies by state but is usually 1 per cent of the equipment's current value. Farmers must also insure tractors in accordance with state laws since the equipment has to travel on public roads from time to time. Additionally, farmers must have space devoted to storage since allowing the equipment sit out in the elements can accelerate depreciation and the breakdown of components, forcing farmers to replace the equipment sooner than anticipated.
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