Published on March 7, 2014
Tractors, Implements, Systems Michael Kilpatrick, Farmer
What are your goals? Stay small and do farmer’s markets parttime Run a large CSA Go certiﬁed and produce few wholesale crops efﬁciently Every Farm is different!
What is the weak link? Look at operation every year and see where bottlenecks are. Or weakness in team? What is slowing us down, crimping the operation. opportunity lost cost?
How do we know what we are making money on?
We need to make $40,000 an acre Works out to be $4.50 a bed ft Also need to make at least $40 an hour picking the crop
Bed Systems an acre is 43,560 square ft All beds are on 72” centers or 7,260 bed ft per Acre We grow 4 rows on a bed, 14” apart
Carrots Yield is 4.25 lbs #1’s for 3 row ft. NOT including juicers or seconds that is 5.64 lbs per bed/ft Beds are 300 ft long=1,692 lbs per bed 24 beds to the acre, or 7260 bed ft per acre = 40, 946 lbs per acre
Sales of Carrots We retail in quart containers at $3.50 for approximately 1.5 lbs or $2.33 per lb That equals $95,404 per acre. at 40, 960 lbs per acre we need around $1 a lb to break-even. At our normal $1.50 wholesale price we are making $60 k an acre
When can we harvest? Retail price is 2.33 per lb divide that into $40,000 per acre and that equals 17,167 lbs per acre, or 0.59 lbs #1 per row ft bunched carrots are more per # so can harvest earlier
Harvest efﬁciency We can harvest 1250 lbs #1 in an hour, 4 crew and the brontosaurus That is 312.5# per man/hour a crew of 2 can wash, weigh, and label 296# in one hour, ten minutes or 127# per man hour we estimate $10 per hour for our workers
Continuing.. 3.2 cents to harvest and 7.8 cents to wash It costs us 11 cents per lb to process carrots, harvest, wash, and pack. $728 dollars per hour to harvest, $295 to pack. The Organic Farmer’s Business Handbook, http:/ /amzn.to/1cynDsA
Don’t grow expen$ive Cover Crop
Questions every farm should ask
Scale and Goals How does this ﬁt with my long term plan? What scale do we want to be on and does this ﬁt with that? How does this ﬁt with our systems already existing on the farm?
How will this affect our team? How does this affect, me, the farmer? How does this affect our crew? What do they think? What do councilors or mentors think? What do other farmers using this piece of equipment, technique, or soil type think of it?
Financial Decisions Do we have the money for it? or do we need to ﬁnance this? Could we borrow, lease or rent this equipment? How many hours will this save us? Cost us? What are the numbers on this? Payback, reduced cost per unit of crop, etc?
Financial Decisions How does this affect the farm ﬁnancially, or what are the long term liabilities of this decision? What additional expenses, resources, or time commitments will this purchase/lease incur? Is a dealer for this equipment readily available? How much do parts cost?
Equipment purchasing never make a hasty decision see if you can try it out before buying double size your equipment, windows of opportunity can be small Track record of the company
Rainy day or reserve fund we always have a list of equipment that is on our radar if the right one comes along we use this money to buy it.
Multi-use equipment You don’t want an expensive piece of equipment sitting around 363 days of the year. buying a G over a Super C- depends on scale share equipment between growers research, research, research
Mentors try to ﬁnd an established, seasoned, grower that you can learn from be careful of conﬂict of interest, look outside of your immediate area, or in different sales channels There is a difference between a good grower and a good business man.
Equipment case studies
Vegetable tractors Tillage work on the farm important it doesn't break down responsible for spraying, bed forming, pulling harvesters, transplanters, etc loader responsible for loading compost, fertilizer, moving equipment, light excavation. most dealers are clueless about vegetable tractors
important features telescoping draft links telescoping hydraulic top link creeper gear open operator platform reverser transmission narrow tires to ﬁt between beds
JD 5325 Hi-wheel not enough traction couldn’t put loader on it don’t like electro-hydrostatic 3 pt controls
JD 5525 Hi-wheel Hi-wheel tractors need matched implements 13-6 tires had plenty of traction again no loader
5325 12.4 tires work great self-leveling bucket with 3000# rating creeper gear reverser transmission
All goes back to scale both those tractors were too specialized for our operation if we had had other large tractors both would have worked excellent
3720 John Deere used as our run-about tractor on the farm hydrostatic weighs only 2900 lbs can lift around 1200 lbs (all bulk bins) dealer 5 minutes away
Bed Systems provide a standard system for vegetable production The wider the bed the less wheel tracks per acre Allow for machine planting, cultivation, harvesting, air ﬂow
1 row system
4 row systems
5 row system 5 rows for spinach, radish, salad, other small crops (9”) 3 rows beets, carrots, beans (18”) 2 rows broccoli, cauliﬂower, potatoes (36”) 1 row tomatoes, artichokes (72”)
Flaming for early weed control
Flaming basics • either used for stale seed bedding (before the crop is planted or blind cultivation (before the crop is up) • idea situation: plant, wait till seeds are germinating but not above the soil yet, ﬂame, seeds come up in weed free bed • ﬂame midday when plants and ground are dry • hot as possible
Parsnips just coming up
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Why Mulch? • ADDS ORGANIC MATTER! • stops erosion • reduces water requirements • keeps workers and produce clean during harvesting • Keeps worms happy
Biotello • starts to breakdown within 2-3 months- gone by spring • twice the cost of regular plastic($350 for 5000 ft) • NOT OMRI yet- Certiﬁed in Europe, Canada • has changed the way we farm- we are now adding organic matter easily while growing crops
fmc carrot and beet harvester
Listening to our crew we have an open door policy we also try to buy 1 major thing each year for them important for them to feel like we are listening
bunch line greens line vegetable washer in feed barrel washer coolers tomato area
Barrel washer from Grindstone Farm www.grindstonefarm.com
Connect with us! @kilpatrickfarm Michael Kilpatrick www.michael-kilpatrick.com www.kilpatrickfamilyfarm.com
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