A Northumberland-based agricultural business manager has developed a simple website to help farmers loan kit from one another rather than buying it outright.
Farm-r allows farmers and contractors to list their available machinery and services for others to browse, either by machine type or geographical location.
Owners enter details of the available equipment via the simple-to-use website, including the type, make and model of machine, hire price a day and its value for insurance purposes.
It’s the responsibility of the person borrowing the kit to arrange insurance, and they may also be required to put down a security deposit.
There are several other options, including making the machine available with an operator – a potentially useful and lucrative extra service – and organising delivery to the farm for a set fee.
Interested parties can submit a request, but owners only have to accept it if the date and time suit them.
“Farm-r is like Airbnb for farm machinery; it allows farmers to sweat the assets they already own by creating additional income from them,” says the company’s founder, Dan Robinson, who grew up on a family farm.
“They can farm leaner by owning less machinery or even more easily try new ways of farming, employing equipment they could not purchase on a whim, but could rent to trial a new crop or technique, to prove a concept.
“I got the idea while travelling around lots of farms and noticing seasonality at play. In a localised area you’d see lots of people using one machine, but you’d go a few miles in the other direction and no-one was using it.”
The idea is to help owners earn more from their equipment while letting renters save money by hiring seasonal kit as and when they need it, rather than having it sat in the shed for most of the year.
By only paying for the use of assets when you actually need to use them, owners will achieve higher capital efficiency on their farm, says the company, and for the lender the extra revenue earned from the already owned machine will go some way to improving the farm’s bottom line.
Opportunity for contractors
It also gives contractors a good opportunity to tout their services, allows potential customers to browse the options and could give farmers the chance to try different kit without investing vast sums of money first.
It’s free to list machines on the Farm-r website and owners are paid instantly via Paypal once the hire of their equipment has been agreed. The company then deducts 10% commission from the owner’s revenue.
The website is now live and waiting to process its first transaction.
The person renting the machine will need to show proof of insurance, but the farmer hiring out the machine needs to make sure they are adequately covered too.
Rural insurance broker Farmers & Mercantile has warned that hirers will need to think through the full implications of their own insurance as insurers may require them to add clauses to their own policy.
For example, they will want to check that whoever is renting the machine is suitably qualified to use it.
They will also need to ensure that the machine has been checked between uses to limit their liability should a third party be injured while it is hired out.
Full operator instructions also need to be supplied with the machine – again to protect the hirer from any claim if the person hiring the machine fails to operate it as per the manufacturer’s guidelines which results in injury or damage to third party property.