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 11-13-2001, 09:44 Post: 33156
sgbotsford



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I'm looking at starting a tree nursery raising trees and shrubs for wholesale to garden centers and landscape contractors. I think I need a small tractor with the following characteristics: 1. Very manoeverable: The turning radius determines my row spacing. Shorter turns = higher density. In particular allowing Landscape contractors to pick out trees will require that I can manoever to get a tree spade over a particular tree without squashing it's neighbors. 2. 4WD: Everything I've read about small tractors, is that without the weight of their big brothers, they need more moving rubber. Since much of the harvest is in early spring when it's still muddy, 4wd I think is an essential. 3. Live PTO: I've heard of too many stories where the momentum of the brushhog got people into trouble. 4. Tree spade. Ideally this works as a replacement for the bucket. so that digging and loading could be done as one operation. I'd be looking at an 18 to 24" tree spade. This may require the addition of several more hydraulic lines, and control spools. This is the oddest requirment I think. (I've seen one's for skid steer tractors.) 5. Front end loader, with interchangeable buckets. (Will be moving both dirt(heavy) and mulch (bulky) 6. Standard 3 pt hitch. Current practice is to plant a double row, with spacing between close rows determined by plant spacing, and wider aisles determined by equipment. Typically 4' and 10' The aisles are maintained in grass which is mowed. I will need plow and cultivator for the narrow strips, and a rough mower for the aisles. Probably want a chipper to turn pruning into mulch. PHD and backhoe I can rent as needed. Tractor would also be used for all those miscellaneous jobs: plowing the driveway, bringing in the winter wood supply off the woodlot. (About 8 cords/year). I've looked at info on the web on the NH boomers, but realize that they are pricey critters new, and around here there are very few used ones.






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 11-13-2001, 15:17 Post: 33164
Murf

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Wow, I don't think the old saying "Trying to put 20 lbs. of potatoes in a 5 lb. bag." even comes close. First problem that jumps out at me is brute force capacity, a 24" or even an 18" tree spade will require far more strength than most Compacts will deliver, even in the 'dry season' let alone in the spring. My suggestion would be to either aim a little lower and instead of trying to do everything with one, small machine, do the small jobs yourself, and hire a spade when you need it. Or else, buy a larger loader to run the spade, and leave the Compact for chore work like mowing only. Best of luck.






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 11-14-2001, 07:38 Post: 33193
TomG

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An older farm tractor with a pto hydraulic pump might to do the heavier work plus a compact might keep down the costs. On the other hand, for commercial uses there are tax reasons for doing things that private owners wouldn't do. Generally, a leased tractor creates an expense, and the full costs can be written off against revenue. A purchased tractor is capital costs that are written off at the depreciation schedule rate. I'm not sure I'd want to get into the capital investment needed even for an old farm tractor unless I was pretty certain of some clients. It can be hard to write off revenue that's not there. I don't know if these nursery trees have to grow a few years before market, but that could complicate business finances.

If it hasn't already been done, some time with a good accountant might be worth it. It seems a sorry message to come from here, but the best tractor(s) may be more accounting/tax than function driven.






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 11-14-2001, 10:15 Post: 33199
sgbotsford



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I chuckled when I read the replies:

I can see Murf's point. I should make clear that I'm looking at the upper
end of compact tractors in terms of size or perhaps an older ag tractor.
Does that make it a 10 lb sack?

Optimum Tree Spade has spades they put on bobcats. Small bobcats. Their
12 and 16 spades go on a 400 series.

The big issue is enough weight to push the spade in, and enough lift to get it
out.

TomG has a point on the accounting. This will start as a hobby farm for the
first 5 years. It takes roughly that long for stock to get to the point that it's
no longer practical to use a shovel. I don't need the spade right away.
Because there is no incoming revenue stream for several years, I have
to start on the cheap.






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 11-14-2001, 13:31 Post: 33201
steve arnold



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 Recommendations for Tree Farming / Landscaping.

Mr. Botsford
IMO you should

1. talk to accountant about depletion

2. buy a bobcat

3. put drain tile in your fields

4. work at a nursery if you havent already

5. load trees with forks

6. If you gotta put a spade on compact put on 3pt.
and operate with a short 1000lb counterweight on front w/o
loader. A 3000lb 4wd compact should handle a 24" spade






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 11-15-2001, 06:35 Post: 33204
TomG

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This is an illustration about accounting stuff, about which I know precious little. I went from a hobby sound & lighting company to a formal (but sideline company) during a few year period.

Under Canadian tax law the company's capital assets (which had been my personal equipment) were valued at fair market value when the company was formed. I was allowed to depreciate the equipment on a 20-year schedule, and the depreciation could be written off against company revenue or my personal income. In effect, I lost the depreciation for the years I operated as a hobby. In general, expenses couldn't be written off against personal income but they could be banked against future company revenue in some cases.

Overall, I managed to operate for a few years at a loss. During those years I wrote off a fair amount of company loss against personal income. Of course, there is the risk of the tax folks labeling a chronically loosing business as a non-serious business (tax dodge) and asking for their money back. I also banked most of my depreciation, which produced a big write-off when I retired from work and also folded the sound business.

In my case, it was worthwhile to formalize the business early, and that may be true for most business where there is a considerable capital investment required. There was a paper-work burden operating the business in the early years, but the losses written off against personal income more than paid me for my time. Many start-up owners start by using their personal equipment. I believe the one thing to avoid is absorbing allowable losses as personal, rather than business assets. The incentives can help ease the usual early-years cash flow problems. I also believe that an average person like myself has little chance of navigating the tax nightmare to take advantage of allowable incentives and avoiding audits without a good accountant.






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 11-15-2001, 10:42 Post: 33208
Murf

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The big reason for using a loader over a tractor is down-pressure, only very few models have it. Further, if you use an articulated machine, like a payloader style, it will allow a larger machine to turn in a smaller aisle. Again, based on experience, & IMHO, you should be looking at two machines, a small compact for chore work, say 25-30 hp range, and a dedicated (or hired) tree spade. This is based on both economy & practicality, why wear out, and have to deal with a 'big' compact tractor cutting grass or mulching just because you need a tree spade for a week a year when you are digging product ? You can kill a fly with a stick of Dynamite, but it's expensive, messy, and cumbersome, use a fly-swatter. Best of luck






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 11-15-2001, 18:19 Post: 33214
sgbotsford



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I'm impressed with the quality of advice I'm getting.

Tom:
You mention an older non-compact tractor. In my groveling around on ironsearch, it appears that smaller ag tractors are much cheaper used than are compact tractors. Part of this is age, but even with ones in the youthful under 20 group, the 30-50 HP tractors are cheaper than many compact tractors. Is there a non-compact tractor message board anywhere close to the quality of this one?

Tractors seem to get a few hundred hours per year, so the capital outlay would be a big share of the expense, followed by maintenance. I suspect that the actual running costs are small by comparison.

I've got an old Case 416 garden tractor that I use for the lawn and garden. Since I've got 80 acres, the minimum
spacing is not that critical.

I won't need any kind of spade for the first several years

What tractors should I be looking at for the startup phase of the nursery?

Steve and Tom both recommended seeing an accountant and ssetting up as a business to claim the business expenses. You've convinced me. It's added to my list as a todo before I spend major money on this.

Working at a nursery is a good idea too, although it's not clear how to do that while holding down a present job. I'm also starting coursework with Olds College. That's done by correspondence.

Steve suggested putting in drain tile. The fields are not *that* wet. It's just that balling field stock happens fairly early
in the crop year. Edmonton only gets 18" of precipitation a year, and lately, only 60% of that. Usually what water we get we want to keep.
The utility of a bobcat for ag work is interesting. With small tires and low ground clearence I'd expect them to get
stuck very easily.

Murf:
I think you're correct about two machines. It's not clear to me what they should be yet. As pointed out above, I don't need to get the spade until I've got trees big enough to warrent it. However, once they are that big, rental is not viable. The harvest season is not just a week. While spring time is the big crunch, specimen trees can go at any time. A spade is also used for root pruning. E.g.
Come up to the tree, and insert the blades half way to sever part of the sprawl. Commonly this is done for 1-3 years before a
tree is moved to reduce transplant shock. Done on a routine basis, a tree can be transplanted, or potted anytime during the
growing season with good success. This has the attraction for clients that they don't have to take delivery on the entire year's
crop at one go.

I have a suspicion that by the time I have 2000 5 year old trees, I'll have a better idea what I want.






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 11-16-2001, 06:47 Post: 33221
TomG

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The difficulty is that farm tractors have the weight, traction and power, but they don't have a lot of maneuverability. They also lack 4wd and many have small hydraulic pumps. Some also don't have a standard 3ph or live PTO's. These sorts of problems are manageable, but they are problems, which is why they tend to be priced less than compacts. I think the tree rows would have to be fairly wide for a farm tractor to be able to pick single trees from the middle of rows. An off-set tractor with a spade on the 3ph might reduce maneuvering space a bit, but I don't know how common offset tractors are.

Compacts may be maneuverable but they may not have the weight needed to sink the spade. A 3ph backhoe gets down-pressure because the mounts lock the 3ph down. I suppose a tree spade could work similarly, but the weight of the tractor plus ballast still limits down-pressure. The loader idea seems problematic to me. Loaders have down-pressure, but many compacts are fairly light in the front. It's a question of whether enough suitcase weights could be hung on the front of a particular tractor to get enough weight to sink the spade. It would be good to check if a loader would go high enough to load into what landscapers tend to show up in. I suspect many loaders wouldn’t go high enough to load over the sides of a pickup bed.

The subject of skid-steers keeps coming up when I think about this. They can have power, weight and traction. They also are very maneuverable. Of course, they would make a mess of grass between the rows--always a problem.






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 11-16-2001, 09:14 Post: 33229
Murf

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I am aware of the root pruning issue, however you don't need a spade for this if you have a machine with a FEL (front end loader). We do this constantly using an implement mounted in place of the bucket and shaped rather like a piece of pipe (28" dia.) which has been cut on a 45 deg. bias. It is merely pushed down into the soil with the tree in the center of what would be the pipe. If you are familiar with the old metal spouts used to open steel quart oil cans, this implement is just like a MUCH larger version of the puncture tool. In fact it is not nearly as fast as my Dutchmans spade, but it will certainly dig trees just fine. Around here where wood mulch is plentiful and cheap (we get paid to take it away in fact) the norm is to over dig in the spring, then cover the rootballs with mulch and drip irrigate them, I have had stock last three years like this and transplant just fine.Hiring a spade sounds expensive, but given the purchase price, it is not a machine you want sitting around idle either. Best of luck.






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Discussion Boards > Active Subjects > Messages as Posted > Size Tractor Needed Forum

Thread 33156 Filter by Poster:
dave27 1 | dcsmith02 1 | Murf 3 | RegL 2 | sgbotsford 3 | steve arnold 1 | TomG 3 |




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