When buying used farm equipment, get the maintenance records and make sure the seller is reputable.

That's advice from Dave Resch, Scott County educator with the University of Minnesota Extension Service.

"A machine can be on the market for two reasons," says Resch. "One is that it's no longer dependable and the second is that it no longer fits the operation."

Usually, he says, better machinery is available when the size of an operation has changed. He offers the following tips:

1) Try to buy locally. Local dealers usually know the history of a machine and may provide a warranty.

2) Look out for consignment auctions. Usually they don't have maintenance records and no one knows why the machine is being sold.

3) If you can't pay cash, make arrangements with your lender first. Dependability will influence price.

4) Brand can affect finding a dealer for repair and parts service. It can also affect resale value.

5) New paint may cover defects.

6) If it has a motor, listen to the motor run.

7) Insist on an operator's manual and get any warranty or guarantee in writing.

8) Don't buy the first machine you see. Cheaper ones in better condition may be elsewhere.