As farm equipment continues to become more automated, tracking up- and downtime to the hour — especially with leased machinery — can have a significant economic impact.

For ag input retailers that offer custom application services and lease fleets of sprayers, spreaders and floaters, the ability to monitor machine hours, fuel costs and labor time allows for an accurate analysis of return on investment.

Steve Cubbage, vice president of services at Farmobile, a farm data company, suggests that equipment leasing could become an increasingly popular option for machinery dealers and also provide an opportunity to include or expand value-added tracking services.

He shared an example of a recent product trial the company coordinated with an ag retailer in Wisconsin and the opportunity to improve tracking and performance monitoring of machinery.

They actually had a machine on a 5-year lease, 2,000 hours and it was coming to the end of their 5-year lease and it just so happened that they really weren’t monitoring it well. Just manually, and they overshot that lease by 200-plus hours. It was over a $30,000-plus overage that they went over on a single machine. We can do a better job of leasing services around identifying where each machine stands in any given month, or day.

Cubbage adds that for dealerships already specializing in or looking to expand application equipment leasing programs with ag retailers or farm co-operatives, the ability to customize tracking could be an attractive incentive to grow that business.