As Broadband Internet speed has found its way into more farm and ranch offices, growers have discovered the value of quick access to Web sites that help them buy products for their operations. Buyers also use the sites to compare prices, which helps to improve seller honesty.
We asked our Team FIN members which Web sites they click on when buying equipment, chemicals and livestock products for the farm and when selling their grain. Here's a look at their favorites.
XSAg.com , which began in 1998 as the first Internet-based company to connect chemical sellers with buyers, is still a favorite among farmers. Kent Lock, who farms near Avon, IL, checks the site regularly during buying season to buy such products as generic Roundup.
Scott McPheeters, a farmer from Gothenburg, NE, likes the price discovery aspect of the site and has bought glyphosate using it. “But I have to confess,” he chuckles, “that I didn't inquire about packaging when I bought 120 gallons and was surprised when I got 120 containers.”
Gary Appleby from Tuscola, IL, also uses XSAg.com, but primarily to compare prices of chemicals.
Machinery and parts
Not surprisingly, Team FIN members spend the most time online looking for machinery and parts sales. They report that they frequently use www.jdparts.com  for parts, primarily to see if needed parts are available at the local Deere dealer. Jeff Ryan, who farms near Cresco, IA, likes the ability to check local parts inventory at night. “By doing this, it helps me plan whether I have to drive 20 miles to the local dealer, wait for their route truck to arrive with the part, or go to another dealership,” he says.
For used equipment, many Team FIN members regularly visit www.tractorhouse.com . “This site is probably my favorite among the iron sites, primarily because it has a better and quicker search with better pictures,” Lock says.
McPheeters agrees with the search quality, “because it has a lot of filters for the different ways you can search — from distance, brand, type, location, horsepower, transmission and much more. In fact I bought a tractor that I located on tractorhouse.”
Another site McPheeters watches is the farm and garden section of www.craigslist.com . “I got interested in the site after my son-in-law used it to buy a flatbed trailer with fertilizer tanks,” he says. “Then I found a good semi tractor as well as a seed tender that I bought using the Grand Island location of craigslist.”
Lock visits www.fastline.com  frequently to check prices, and he even purchased a corn head in 2008 from a fastline.com  source in Pennsylvania. And he, like other Team FIN members, likes John Deere's site for used machinery, www.machinefinder.com , as well as www.ironplanet.com .
Appleby adds www.ebay.com  to his list of sites where he buys tractor parts and filters because he says he can find the best prices there. McPheeters also watches eBay, a habit that started four or five years ago. “I probably bought a half-dozen chemical injection pumps for my irrigation units [using the site] in the past year, at a big savings,” he says.
Shirley and Abe Hodgen, who farm near Roachdale, IN, use websoilsurvey.nrcs.usda.gov  to check aerial photos of nearby land that is available for lease or sale. “It helped us obtain a fair lease from a landowner by proving past annual wet spots and drainage problems, which led to a favorable tile agreement and lease extension,” Shirley says.
Grain news and marketing
Team FIN members use a variety of local and national Web sites to watch markets, including www.farmindustrynews.com .
Daryl Bridenbaugh, a grower from Pandora, OH, checks www.roachag.com  daily for prices and commentary. “I pay for John Roach's really good world views, and I just wish I'd have listened to him last summer when he said sell, sell, sell when the markets were high,” he says.
The Hodgens get their daily market information from www.brockreport.com . “We get good information on what is moving the markets, as well as ethanol and crop report news,” Shirley says. They also subscribe to www.agristar.com . “AgriStar is our Internet and e-mail provider, plus we like to read their markets, in-depth weather, and global news,” she says.
McPheeters uses the Web site of his rural Nebraska farm radio station, www.krvn.com, to check market prices, read news, and check upcoming local auctions. He uses the Pioneer Hi-Bred MarketPoint grain marketing portal service to receive price alert text messages on his cell phone.
Lock has used www.eBay.com  to buy electrical fencing equipment.
The Hodgens, who own four horses, often visit www.equine.com  and www.horsecity.com . “And for vaccines, vitamins and wormers, we'll order from www.jeffers.com  and www.valleyvet.com ,” Shirley says.
The first site Shirley Hodgen went to when an errant combine unloading auger cracked the visor on the farm's semi tractor was www/iowa80.com , known as the place for chrome and accessories.
New products, technology, trends
What sites do you use to help you buy? Write to us at [email protected]  and tell us your favorite links. We'll talk about them on the best source for news about the latest products, technology and trends in agriculture — www.farmindustrynews.com .
WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITES?
Tell us at [email protected]