Machinery and Equipment Guide

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Machinery and equipment required for grain amaranth production will vary depending on production system preferences. The following discussion describes basic machinery and equipment needs for producing grain amaranth, and it approximates costs incurred from operating machinery involved in the production process.

Machinery and Equipment Needs

For grain amaranth producers, the following table outlines basic machinery and equipment requirements for conventional production. Although some producers may use no-till methods, first-time growers may experience better results with conventional systems due to the grain amaranth’s small seed size and the need to control planting depth in crop residue.

Conventional grain amaranth production requires seedbed preparation and cultivation. An in-ripper may carry out subsoiling work every two to three years, and a field cultivator may provide secondary tillage services. Producers have several planter options: vegetable air seeders, sugarbeet planters, grain drills, row crop planters with in-furrow insecticide boxes and cultipack seeders. Many producers trying amaranth for the first time have made use of insecticide boxes and placing the seed as shallow as possible just prior to closing wheels. There are no herbicides currently registered for weed control. Instead, producers must use mechanical cultivation or other non-chemical methods. A stale seedbed technique has also proven effective for amaranth production. Producers conventionally work the field and spray a burndown herbicide such as glyphosate just prior to planting. This method will eliminate growing weeds and minimize germination of new weed seed.

To harvest amaranth, producers may use a typical grain combine. Some producers have made use of row crop headers if available. Adding an alfalfa or clover screen may help with cleaning grain, and equipping the combine with a seed-catching pan designed for sunflowers may minimize harvest loss. Because grain amaranth seeds are small and lightweight, producers may need to make other adjustments, such as change the combine’s cylinder speed, to reduce loss. After harvest, amaranth seed may need to be cleaned prior to storage. For producers, cleaning typically involves scalping residue from the seed.

Equipment and Machinery Needs for Grain Amaranth Production

Conventional Production
Tractor X
Subsoiling (in-line ripper) X
Field cultivator X
Planter X
Fertilizer spreader X
Sprayer X
Combine X
Grain cart X
Grain truck X
Grain cleaner X
Owned and Operated Equipment or Custom Hire Services

When considering crop production machinery and equipment needs, producers may use owned equipment or hire a custom provider. The decision will depend on an operation’s current machinery and equipment inventory, operator time available and the difference in cost. The following table compares projected costs for the two scenarios. In the first, a grower owns and operates equipment. In the second, a grower hires a custom service provider to carry out equipment-related work. The machinery costs are meant to represent total costs incurred for operating equipment used in grain amaranth production.

Estimated Machinery Costs and Custom Rates, Per Acre Per Year

Machinery Cost Custom Rate
Subsoiling (in-line ripper) $20.60 $17.06
Field cultivator $9.80 $15.20
Planter $12.70 $13.71
No-till planter $15.30 $15.34
Fertilizer spreader $7.62 $6.08
Sprayer $3.70 $5.98
Combine $31.00 $27.89
Grain cart $9.65 $9.00
Grain truck* $18.09 $18.70
Grain cleaner $13.09
* Grain hauling rate will depend on farm proximity to final market.

Baltendsperger, David D., Drew J. Lyon, Lenis A. Nelson and Alan J. Corr. 1991. NF91-35 Amaranth Grain Production in Nebraska. University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension. Lincoln, NE 68588.

Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics. 2012. Machinery Cost Estimates: Summary. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Urbana, IL 61801.

Grosz-Heilman, Rebecca, Joel T. Golz and Delmer L. Helgeson. 1990. Amaranth: A Food Crop from the Past for the Future. North Dakota State University. Fargo, ND 58102.

Kauffman, Charles S. and Leon E. Weber. 1997. Grain Amaranth. Purdue University. West Lafayette, IN 47907.

Myers, Robert L. 2002. Grain Amaranth, A Lost Crop of the Americas. Jefferson Institute. Columbia, MO 65201.

Plain, Ronald L. and Joyce White. 2012. 2012 Custom Rates for Farm Services in Missouri. University of Missouri Extension. Columbia, MO 65211.

Pullins, Emily E., Robert L. Myers and Harry C. Minor. 1997. Alternative Crops in Double-Crop Systems for Missouri. University of Missouri. Columbia, MO 65201.

Putnam, D.H., E.S. Oplinger, J.D. Doll and E.M. Schulte. 1989. Amaranth, Alternative Field Crops Manual. University of Wisconsin. Madison, WI 53706.

Stiles, Scott and Terry Griffin. n.d. Estimating Farm Machinery Costs. University of Arkansas. Little Rock, AR 72204.