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When you think of farm work, usually the vehicles that come to mind are combines and tractors. But according to the website Agriculture, forklifts are becoming more commonly used by farmers. And the forklift of choice is the all-terrain vehicle.
All-terrain forklifts are most often used for tough jobs in remote areas where there aren’t a lot of nicely paved roads or other uniformly flat surfaces to drive on. That’s why they are built with higher clearances, more rugged tires and greater lift capacities than other forklifts.
Which makes them perfect for farm work, according to Scott Steffes, a consultant with the firm Steffes Group.
“Like smaller lifts, they are more convenient than a tractor loader at a great many jobs,” Steffes said.
Ironically, farmers didn’t first start using forklifts because of what they could do, but because of what they cost.
Favorable Conditions Created New Market
About 10 years ago, when the US economy first started to slow down, a lot of factories, warehouses and other companies went out of business. That caused the marketplace to be flooded with used forklifts, many of which were available at bargain basement prices.
Another motivator for farmers to buy forklifts came when seed companies stopped using sacks and jugs to ship their seed and chemicals, and shifted to pallets and totes, according to Tim Crossley, a farmer in Greens Fork, Indiana.
“Several thousand dollars would get you a factory-floor forklift in those days,” Crossley said. “Neighbors stopping by would see the lift, ask about it, and often asked if they could buy it off me. I ended up buying, rebuilding and selling several forklifts in a very short time.”
Rough Terran > Standard Forklifts?
As farmers became accustomed to working with forklifts, many began to see the advantages of using rough terrain vehicles.
For one, they can lift heavier loads. While a run-of-the-mill forklift used in a warehouse or factory typically can weigh between 3,000 and 8,000 pounds, with 5,000 pounds being about average, their rough terrain cousins have lifting capacities of between 3,000 and 35,000 pounds.
Plus rough terrain forklifts often offer other features that come in handy with agricultural work, such as four-wheel drive, side-shifting forks, tilting masts, and enclosed air-conditioned or heated cabs.
Forklifts Becoming Common Sight at Farm Auctions
As a result of the boom in popularity of forklifts among farmers, it’s now common to find the vehicles up for auction during farm sales.
Forklift use on farms has become so popular that the Agriculture website recently published a pricing guide to help farmers get a ballpark idea of what they should expect to pay for used forklifts during farm auctions. It includes make and model, year and specifications.
Farmers are used to getting up early in the morning. So if they are planning to buy a used forklift at a farm auction, they should plan on getting there in plenty of time to consider one of the most important things when purchasing a forklift for farm use is the number of hours it already has been used, according to Steffes.
“Before you buy a forklift, be sure to take note of the hour meter to see if it’s working,” he said. “Look at the tires for wear and damage and check for signs of general operating abuse.”