Machinery and Equipment Guide

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

Machinery and Equipment Needs

Sunflower producers have several machinery and equipment options. Their choices will depend on the production methods that they select. Generally, producers may grow sunflower in a conventional system or a no-till system. The following table outlines basic machinery and equipment requirements in these two production models. For the most part, sunflower production equipment needs are similar to those of corn and soybean production.

Conventional sunflower production requires seedbed preparation and cultivation. An in-ripper may conduct the primary tillage work every two or three years, and a field cultivator may provide the secondary tillage services. Finger or vacuum planters can effectively be used to plant sunflowers. If using a finger planter, corn fingers can be utilized. However, pay attention to the size of sunflower seed purchased, and attempt to use larger sized seed to reduce doubles. Alternatively, sunflower-specific equipment (fingers, etc.) are available and can be purchased. Appropriate crop rotations can help to manage disease, weed and insect pressures.

Regardless of the production system, producers will apply fertilizer and need to spray chemicals to maintain the crop. At harvest, producers may use a grain combine. When selecting the combine head, producers should prioritize minimizing harvest loss and controlling for stalk passing through the combine. A sunflower head attachment and grain platform work well on a conventional combine.

Equipment and Machinery Needs for Sunflower Production

Conventional Production No-Till Production
Tractor X X
Subsoiling (in-line ripper) X
Field cultivator X
Planter X
No-till Planter X
Fertilizer spreader X X
Sprayer X X
Combine X X
Grain cart X X
Grain truck X X
Owned and Operated Equipment or Custom Hire Services

When considering crop production machinery and equipment needs, producers have the option to used owned equipment or hire a custom service provider. The decision will depend on an operation’s current machinery and equipment inventory, time available for conducting machinery operations 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 sunflower production.

Estimated Machinery Costs and Custom Rates, Per Acre Per Year

Machinery Cost Custom Rate
Subsoiling (V-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* $21.11 $20.00
* Grain hauling rate will depend on farm proximity to final market.

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