5 Tools Modern Farmers Should Be Thankful For

Caring for and living off the land are at the forefront of farmers minds, and these pieces of equipment make doing both a whole lot easier.

by J. Keeler Johnson
PHOTO: Colby Cosh/Flickr

Usually, discussions of “things to be thankful for” are saved for Thanksgiving season, but hobby farmers across the nation have so many things to be thankful for that we might as well start early! Here are five pieces of equipment that (in my opinion) all modern farmers should be thankful for.

1. ATVs and UTVs

What would we do without our all-purpose ATVs and UTVs? Not only do they provide an easy way to travel across your farm, they’re also versatile—they can haul heavy loads of supplies wherever they need to go, they can help you install new fences, and with special attachments, you can even plow your driveway during the winter. While you’ll still need a tractor for the biggest and hardest jobs, the rise of ATVs and UTVs has provided a new option for small-scale hobby farmers who need a (relatively) inexpensive, versatile machine to help with their farm work.

2. Hay Balers

hay baler
Peter Mooney/Flickr

Imagine trying to harvest and store hay without being able to bale it! Until hay balers with knot-tying devices became accessible in the late 1930s, harvested hay was kept in loose stacks created by dedicated workers with pitchforks. But thanks to baling machines, we can bale our hay and store more in less space than was possible with haystacks, while keeping all of the bales uniform in size and easy to stack, transport, use and sell. All things considered, when it comes to farming, modern hay balers might be one of the greatest innovations of the 20th century!

3. Chainsaws & Log Splitters

chain saw

Back in the old days, if you needed to cut your own firewood for fuel, you had to fell a tree using hand tools, saw it by hand into short logs, and split those logs manually using an ax or similar tool. It was a challenging and tiresome process, which is why we should all be thankful for chainsaws and log splitters! By letting their powerful engines do the hard work, we can save time and effort, which can then be applied to other farming projects (like raising chickens or putting in a garden!).

4. Leaf Shredders & Wood Chippers

wood chipper

There are countless ways that farmers can use organic mulch and wood chips. From grinding up tree branches and shredding leaves into tiny pieces, leaf shredders and wood chippers not only reduce the size of waste piles, they also transform them into material that can be put to good use. It’s impossible to overstate how helpful leaf shredders and wood chippers can be on a hobby farm, where utilizing all available resources is a worthy goal.

5. Soil Testers

soil testing kit
Susy Morris/Flickr

Although these aren’t machines like the previous four items, they’re still something that modern farmers should be thankful for! Without knowing the pH level and nutrient content of your soil, it can be difficult to know which crops and plants will thrive. Fortunately, the development of simple, inexpensive tests makes it easy for anyone to test their own soil. From meters that test the pH, sunlight and moisture levels to more complex kits that test for nitrogen and phosphorus, there are options for everyone, a far cry from the days when such simple tests didn’t exist.

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