Affordable iron: New partnership helps ARS cut its equipment costs

Machinery costs at CALS Agricultural Research Stations will drop significantly this season, thanks to a new partnership between the college, Case IH and several Wisconsin Case IH dealers. The arrangement will also provide station staff, researchers and students a chance to make use of new precision farming technologies on the university’s hundreds of acres of research plots.

Beginning this season, four Case IH dealerships are providing approximately 150 pieces of agricultural equipment to the university’s 12 research stations for a nominal fee. The dealers are in the process of delivering tractors as well as equipment for tillage, spraying, planting and harvesting, and skid steer loaders. They will also assist with normal scheduled maintenance.

“This comes at an opportune time,” says CALS Interim Dean Bill Tracy. “These stations are important for conducting not only agricultural research, but also work related to bioenergy and environmental protection. With reduced funding from the state, it’s essential that we find ways to stretch our budget.”

The program will save CALS tens of thousands of dollars in machinery lease, purchase and service costs in 2011 alone, estimates ARS director Dwight Mueller.

“At the same time, our operators will be exposed to some of the latest in new farm equipment design and technology,” he adds. “A few examples include guidance/steering and yield and moisture monitoring systems, and no-till planter technology. We’ve been dealing with 15- or 20-year old combines. The ones we’re getting use GPS technology to monitor yields. That will be very useful in our crop research.”