Rise To New Levels With An Aerial Work Platform

Whether you’re repairing a roof or pruning tall trees, consider renting an aerial work platform the next time you need to complete a high-altitude farm job.

by J. Keeler Johnson
PHOTO: Daniel Johnson

There are many ways to extend your reach when working on farm projects. You can climb a ladder to pick apples or hang a light fixture. You can use scaffolding to work on a building or a tall fence. You can use a pole saw to prune high tree branches.

But sometimes you need more height than these simple options allow. That’s when you need an aerial work platform.

Read more: Get a leg up on apple picking with an orchard ladder!

What’s an Aerial Work Platform?

If you’re not sure what an aerial work platform is, perhaps you know it by a different name. Boom lift, bucket truck, cherry picker, elevating work platform, aerial lift, scissor lift … these devices go by a variety of names, depending on the exact design. But the basic idea is always the same: aerial work platforms use machinery (for example, a telescoping and articulated hydraulic arm) to elevate a platform from the ground into the air so a worker on the platform can perform jobs at elevated height.

Last year, I rented a boom lift to use around my farm. The primary goal was to repair some loose roof panels on my old barn. But secondarily I wanted to cut down a few modest-sized trees growing precariously near farm buildings, and the safest way to bring them down was to head up in the boom lift and cut up each tree in small sections.

My neighbor (considerably more experienced than I am with these types of projects) offered to operate the boom lift and head up in the bucket. He picked out a towable boom lift with four outriggers for stability. As a bonus, it was an electric boom lift, so it was remarkably quiet during operation and silent once elevated. This made communication between bucket and ground easy and peaceful.

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No shouting over a noisy gasoline engine required!

With multiple points of articulation within its arm, the boom lift could extend both outward and upward, so elevating up over the barn roof was a breeze. Before long my neighbor had the roof panels firmly reattached.

Cutting down the problematic trees was similarly easy. My neighbor used his chainsaw to trim off the branches and pieces of the upper trunks. We left the shortened trunks standing, to be felled from ground level another day.

Read more: Electric farm tools come with a number of pros … and some cons, too.

The Perfect Tool

I was amazed at how the boom lift simplified and sped up seemingly complicated projects. It was the perfect tool for the jobs I had in mind. After one busy day of work, I plugged it in to a garage wall outlet and recharged the battery for a second day of elevated productivity.

My neighbor and I got a lot done during the two-day rental, which was well worth my investment.

Of course, it goes without saying that safety should be paramount when using any type of aerial work platform. If you lack experience using these devices, ask someone knowledgeable to run the show the first time and teach you how to safely use one. Make sure the machine is positioned stably, follow all safety guidelines along the way, and use common sense. In other words, don’t lean out of the bucket to reach that one tree branch that is almost-but-not-quite within reach.

When used carefully by experienced workers, an aerial work platform can bring a wide variety of projects within reach. Whether you’re repairing a roof, pruning trees, or tackling some other tricky project, consider renting an aerial work platform the next time you need to complete a high-altitude farm job.

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