Why every farmer needs a weighing scale

A cow on the weighing scale.  pHOTO/george katongole

What you need to know:

  • Using weighing scales in the day-to-day functions of a commercial farm is critical for optimising output and maximising profit.

Whether we are checking our body weight, buying fruit at the grocery store, or seeing if luggage is too heavy before boarding an airplane, scales are ingrained in modern life.

Weigh scales are integral to the operation of farms both big and small, whether the specialty is livestock or cash crop.
Although the modern digital scales are a far cry from the simple balances of ancient times, both serve the same purpose of assuring fair and honest dealings.

According to Andrew Izaara, a senior research officer in aquaculture at the Mukono Zonal Agricultural Research and Development Institute (MuZardi), weigh scales “are essential for day-to-day operations of the farm. Izaara, an aquaculturist, says weighing is a relevant part in determining the live weight of fish as well as offering the right amounts of feeds.
“Profits in agriculture are determined by small margins and being accurate

Why you need a weigh scale
If you are in the cash crop business, there are several reasons why you might need a scale because farm produce is usually sold by weight.   
First, harvest time is important to know how much yield their land produces. In addition, the weight when trading raw produce, such as wheat, beans or soybeans, is critical to ensuring your customers are getting the correct quantities.

“Harvest time is one area where weight scales come into play. But many farmers wait for middlemen who manipulate the scales. Actually many farmers lose their harvest to sub-standard scales.”
The other use of a weigh scale is for livestock.

Accurate weighing helps in keeping a check on the health of animals at different stages of their growth. According to James Mugerwa, an extension worker in Buvuma District, weighing can be used to measure feed and help with planning and managing its inventory.

In addition, when it comes to transportation of farm produce, properly calibrated weighing equipment can ensure that farmers are being charged the correct rate.

The most common and important use of a scale for livestock farmers, is to physically weigh the animals to track performance and estimated profits.
For livestock, electronic scales are the most appropriate to use but since most rural farmers cannot afford them, weigh bands are recommended. A weight band is a tape placed around the body parts of an animal that converts length (centimetres) to kilogrammes.

Types of weigh scales
In farming operations, there are various types of scales that can be used ranging from heavy-duty platform scales to electronic scales.
Platform scales are great for weighing bags of produce such as grain or fruit, and for large-scale farmers, truck scales offer the perfect weighing solution. But smallholder farmers can choose what is convenient for them.

Isaac Muganga, the quality controller at Eagle Weighing Systems in Wandegeya, Kampala explains that when one is picking a scale to use, it is important to weigh his farm operations. “Digital versions offer higher accuracy but a farmer needs to know what he can easily operate from the farm with little operation costs,” Muganga says.

Costs of common farm weigh scales
Stainless steel waterproof weighing scales - Shs1.1m
Platform weighing scales - Shs1.5m
Counter balance weighing scale - Shs250,000
Digital weighing scales - Shs400,000
Cattle weighing scales - Shs9.5m