Farming and agricultural vehicles are rarely cheap, and buying a combine harvester is always a serious investment, however necessary it might be. Fortunately, savvy farmers can save a lot of money by opting for a used combine harvester, and a dealer of used farm equipment can sell you a harvester ready for the field at a fraction of the cost of a new model straight from the manufacturer.
However, finding the right combine harvester for your specific needs can be more challenging if you opt for a used model — with so many different classes, build years and brands available, it can be difficult to figure out of a used combine has the features you need. To make sure you don't waste your money on a combine harvester that doesn't meet your needs, ask yourself the following questions before you pick out a used harvester:
What's the weather usually like when I'm harvesting?
Depending on your farm's location and the crops you grow, the weather during your harvest season(s) may be arid and baking hot or wet and windy. You should therefore choose a combine harvester that can deal with whatever weather conditions it is likely to encounter.
If sudden rainstorms are likely to occur while you harvest, you should pick a combine with a grain tank that can be quickly sealed from your driving position to protect your load. If conditions are likely to get extremely wet, you may want to go further and invest in a half or fully-tracked harvester — these formidable machines are more expensive and can be a little more challenging to drive, but they will never get bogged down in a waterlogged field and are often easier to find used than new.
If weather conditions are likely to be very hot, dry and windy, your main concern should be easy access to any and all moving parts — engine covers should be easily removable, and inspection hatches should be large and operate smoothly. During the hottest days, you may need to blow down the working parts of your combine frequently to prevent grain residue from building up in components and catching fire, and easy access will make this much less laborious.
What do I do with my straw and other waste products?
These days, most standard combine harvesters are fitted with straw spreaders, which scatter the waste straw, seed residue and other materials your harvester picks up over a wide area.
These spreaders suit the needs of most farmers, but if you gather waste straw for baling to feed livestock, spreading your harvester's waste can make baling much more time-consuming. You can always deactivate your straw spreaders to make the straw easier to collect, but you can also save a lot of time and reduce your maintenance workload by choosing an older used model that isn't fitted with straw spreaders at all.
How do I transport harvested crops to storage?
You should also consider how you intend to get your newly harvested crops from the harvester to your storage silos or buildings. If you run a small farm, you may choose to unload your crops directly from the harvester into the silo; this requires a long, flexible unloading auger that can reach the top of a tall silo.
However, most farmers will unload their crops into a separate tractor-trailer, allowing the harvester to resume work without leaving the field. In these cases, you can choose a combine with a shorter (and cheaper) unloading auger. Take care, however, if you plan to fit a new, wider grain head to your used combine; wider grain heads mean tractors cannot pull up as close to your combine, and you may need to fit a new, longer auger to compensate.