Let’s talk about your underused farm equipment. But first, a brief history of Airbnb.
Airbnb is a website that helps people rent out their properties for lodging. The basic idea is to turn unused or underused properties into revenue generators. Its popularity has grown steadily and today, the company is valued at $20 billion, with 1.5 million listings in 34,000 different cities all around the world.
Jeff Dema, FarmLink’s president of grower services, says learning about Airbnb got him thinking about another category of underused property in the agriculture industry – farm equipment. Dema uses sprayers as just one example.
“The average sprayer runs less than 60 days a year, yet represents one of the costliest investments for a retailer or farmer,” he says.
Dema points to 2012 USDA Ag Census data, which shows farmers own about $244 billion worth of machinery and farm equipment. Yet for a majority of the year, that machinery lays idle. Dema hopes his company’s solution, MachineryLink Sharing, will at least partially solve that situation.
“More efficient use of equipment will make retailers and farmers more sustainable,” he says.
Participating retailers and co-ops tested the program earlier this year (it will be available to farmers sometime this fall). Dema says the service allows these entities to “use equipment when they need it and earn income on it when they don’t” by sending unused equipment to someone who can use it.
MachineryLink Sharing has “sellers” set the price for sharing their equipment and then fill out a calendar for the days when each piece of equipment is available. “Buyers” can then search the website for the pieces of equipment to which they need access. A 5-star rating system keeps the process and user experiences transparent
Greg Peterson, also known as Machinery Pete, says it makes sense that the “share economy” has extended into the agriculture industry.
“Our culture is changing,” he says. “With Uber, Netflix and more, everyone can share everything. And machinery is an expensive asset, which makes it a prime candidate for sharing.
There is also a current excess of used equipment, Machinery Pete says. Because of that, when sales conditions are difficult for retailers, co-ops and dealers, the flexibility of a lease makes good business sense for them and for customers. Not only that, they have the opportunity to build relationships with new customers, he says.
Dema agrees that current financial pressures in the ag industry put pressure on finding additional sources of revenue, and hopes that the inspiration of Airbnb’s success will spark an interest in participating in MachineryLink Sharing.
“Agriculture is in the midst of its next big transformation, where new thinking and business models that have revolutionized other industries are being embraced within ag,” he says. “Early adoption in Midwest row crop states has been strong, and we expect to expand the program for national availability.”
For more information, visit www.machinerylink.com.