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Farm equipment technicians, also known as agricultural equipment technicians, maintain and repair farm equipment used for a variety of tasks, including planting, cultivating, harvesting, storing, and processing crops. They work on irrigation equipment used to water fields.

Farm equipment technicians first observe, then test machines, using electronic testing devices to see what's gone wrong. In some cases, they have to take apart machines to figure out the problem.

Once they have uncovered the problem, they have to fix it. As a farm equipment technician, you'll use a variety of hand tools, such as screwdrivers, wrenches, and pliers. You'll also use power tools, including welding equipment and saws. To reconstruct a machine part or do body-work repairs, you might use drill presses, lathes, and woodworking machines.

Farm equipment technicians also perform preventative maintenance tasks. They oil or lubricate the moving parts of farm machines, and clean and adjust parts to keep things running smoothly. When the growing and harvesting seasons are over, they overhaul farm machines, checking and adjusting them so they'll be ready for the next crops.

Farm equipment technicians work throughout the United States, mainly in rural farming areas. But they also work in suburban areas where homeowners, gardeners, and landscapers need riding mowers and other equipment repaired.

Most farm equipment technicians work in the service departments of equipment dealerships. Some farm equipment technicians are hired by large farms. Other farm equipment technicians work for independent shops that specialize in maintaining farm equipment. Some farm equipment technicians are self-employed and run their own shops.

In large shops and service departments, farm equipment technicians usually specialize. Some might work on tractors and other farm vehicles that have gas-powered engines, while others might work only on diesel-powered farm vehicles. Some might work only on air-conditioning systems used in the cabs of trucks, combines, and big tractors.

Most of the time, farmers bring machinery to the shop or service department, and work is done indoors. But if it's the busy planting or harvesting season, and a machine suddenly breaks down, farm equipment technicians will go out to the field to inspect and repair machinery.

Some technicians, known as farm machinery set-up mechanics, work for companies that manufacture farm equipment. They deliver machinery to farms, then uncrate, assemble, and adjust it.

There are also farm equipment technicians—known as equipment manufacturing technicians, agricultural engineering technicians, and agricultural equipment test technicians—who help design and test farm equipment for manufacturers. They may also be employed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Agriculture Research Service. Some farm equipment technicians supervise plant operations for manufacturers.

Tools of the Trade

Here are just a handful of the many machines used on farms:

Blower A machine used to blow hay up a pipe and into a silo for storage.

Combine A large, self-propelled machine used to harvest grain crops. It cuts grain, separates it from the straw, leaves the straw in neat rows, and stores the grain in a bin. Different attachments, or heads, are used to harvest different types of grain. For instance, a reel-type head is used for wheat, and a corn head is used for corn.

Corn harvester A machine that cuts, chops, and blows corn into wagons.

Drill A device that is pulled behind a tractor and seeds fields. It makes long grooves in the soil, drops seed into them, then covers the seeds with soil.

Hay baler A machine that gathers up dry hay into big rectangular or round bundles called bales.

Tractor The main farm vehicle used in the fields. Many different types of farm equipment used for planting, mowing, and harvesting can be attached to it and pulled through the fields.

Farm equipment technicians can also use their knowledge of agricultural machines to work as salespeople and sales managers for manufacturers who sell their equipment to local dealerships, or for the dealerships themselves.

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