A new-age economic model is entering the world’s oldest industry.
Kansas City-based FarmLink introduced this week its Web-based farm equipment sharing community MachineryLink Sharing, which the company says will enable farmers to save money and generate revenue.
“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,” Jeff Dema, FarmLink’s president of grower services, said in a release. “In this dynamic ag economy, retailers and growers are rethinking one of their biggest capital expenditures: farm equipment.”
Farmers own about $244 billion in machinery equipment, according to the USDA’s 2012 Ag Census. Much of that equipment, however, is underused because of agriculture’s seasonality.
For example, Dema said that the average sprayer for pesticides is in operation less than 60 days a year, but represents a costly investment for a retailer and farmer. The company’s sharing economy model will enable more profitable use of equipment to improve cash flow and investment opportunities in the agriculture industry.
Through the MachineryLink platform, farmers can pay to use equipment when needed and also earn money for renting their equipment when it’s not in use. FarmLink says that lessees will have on-demand access to an inventory of equipment at varying costs, offering them enhanced flexibility, cash flow and revenue. The platform will include such equipment as sprayers, floaters, tender trucks and tractors for both long- and short-term rental periods by users seeking to avoid long-term lease or purchase commitments.
The program is available on a limited basis to co-ops, ag retailers and equipment dealers, FarmLink said. More than 16 ag retailers are already using the platform, and the company expects the program to expand nationally.
FarmLink has raised $40 million in funding to date, with OpenAir Equity Partners as its primary investor. The company is led by former Sprint COO Ron LeMay.