Wednesday, February 22, 2017

It Seems To Be A Ritual

When farmers aren't farming, the weather is good, and the ground is solid, trees will be cleared!  This little spot is 0.05 acre, and it is a fun mental exercise to do the math.  Say you can rent a track-hoe for $125 an hour, and then also rent a small bulldozer.  Work all day on this little spot to push out a couple trees.  Add tires to make that green wood burn, and voila!, you have more farm ground!

What does it cost, and how long will it take to regain the investment?  Easily $200 per hour for at least 10 hours.  If you can grow 150 bushel per acre corn, you can get 7 or 8 more bushels per year that are worth about $3 per bushel.  Wow.  Only about 80 years to get back your $2000.  I must be missing something...

PS: Here's a thought.  When you are harvesting your soybeans with your 1/4 million dollar combine, with dust swirling around you obscuring your vision, you catch the header on a tree that you couldn't quite see....well, there goes more than two grand right there, and you are going to be down for maybe several days.   Machines today are expensive and big, and you make your fields as friendly for them as possible.

Here's a big red combine harvesting this very field last October.


John said...

My wife and I were visiting our friends that farm near Pittsburgh, and when away from the farm our friend looked over at someone plowing and said, "That guy is an idiot." Then our friend went rapidly through the same math you did. Yes, the guy plowing was an idiot.

David aka True Blue Sam said...

In this case, it is a small steeply sloping area that was not farmed because it would erode. Trees eventually took root and occupied the spot. No erosion! The bigger equipment today makes it unhandy to dodge around spots like this, and the young farmers today don't remember the struggle to stabilize erosion, so they take it out for convenience' sake. It will wash again, and start eating back into the B slope behind it. Then the farmer will put grass on it and farm around it again.

Merle Morrison said...

I've heard it said many times "the American farmer is the best farmer in the world, but the worst businessman in America". Getting harder to argue with that.