GEAR UP FOR SPRING CLEANING
Planting season is almost here, which means it’s time for farmer-style spring cleaning. Inspecting your machinery will give you a head start for a successful year.
Have your tools ready and service manuals in hand. If you have misplaced a manual, look for one on the internet. You can usually find a PDF to download or a print copy to purchase.
STEP 1: CLEAN
Choose a place to clean your machinery where the risk of contamination and danger is minimized. Make sure the land is flat and stable, and not prone to runoff. The site should not be near any public water courses or drains.
Check your service manual about the best ways to clean certain areas of your machines. Examples include chemical treatments, specific water pressure or temperature, or the use of vacuum or manual equipment.
Rid decks, housings, joints, and rakes of any debris to help prevent debris from overheating and catching fire in machinery and minimize the risk of spreading pests and diseases.
Dispose of waste in the safest, most appropriate way. While cleaning, take note of anything that may need repairs or to be replaced.
STEP 2: USE A FARM-EQUIPMENT INSPECTION CHECKLIST
Ensure that your equipment is in top working condition before you hit the fields.
- Batteries: Does the battery hold a charge? Look for signs of corrosion and replace as needed.
- Brakes: Adjust brakes, drives, and clutches according to the manual.
- Bushings: Check for wear and tear. Wiggle the parallel linkage to check for slop. If there is too much, that is a good indicator you need to replace the bushings.
- Closing wheels: Closing wheels should be equal distance from the center of the seed furrow. They should not wobble and should be adjusted with the right spring pressure according to soil conditions.
- Cooling system: Look for cracks from freezing and check coolant level.
- Engine and steering: Run the engine for at least 5 minutes to let it warm up . Also, ensure steering and exhaust systems are in working order.
- Filters: Replace filters as needed.
- Fire extinguisher: It should be fully charged and functional.
- Fluids: Check and/or change the gas, transmission oil, hydraulic fluid oil, coolant level, and any other fluids. Remove all water that may have condensed.
- Gauge wheels: Replace worn wheels. Adjust so they are barely touching the disc blades, but still turn with minimal resistance. Replace arms or bushings that allow the wheel to pull away from the disc blades.
- Hitches: Make sure you have the proper hitch pins and safety clips for what you plan to pull. The hitch height should be adjusted so the planter is level. Refer to the manual for proper setup instructions.
- Hoses, belts, and plastic parts: Check for cracks and wear.
- Hydraulic lines: The best way to test hydraulic systems is to pressurize them and look for leaks. However, be aware that not every leak will create a telltale puddle.
- Mirrors: Climb in the seat and identify any driver blind spots. Will you be able to see people, fences, buildings, or other equipment in your path? Adjust the mirrors for visibility.
- Nuts and bolts: Secure tightly and replace broken ones.
- Planter frame: The planter frame must be level and at the correct height. This is critical because the frame affects the effectiveness of the seed tubes, seed depth and spacing, row unit attachments, and closing wheels. If your frame is not adjusted properly you may have a decreased yield.
- Safety equipment: Make sure all shields and guards are in place and in good working order.
- Seed tubes: Seed tubes should not be bent, worn, or deformed. They should not have holes or split ends. Invest in good seed-tube guards to ensure proper furrow shapes and planting depth control. All seed tubes should be centered and hooked to the row unit.
- Tires: It’s common for tires to lose air in cold weather. Check pressure and tread wear for each tire; deflated tires wear faster and cause damage to the rims. Tighten lug nuts.
- Wires: Inspect for any rodent damage. Consider mice-proofing for future prevention.
STEP 3: DO A FINAL WALK-AROUND
Are your headlights, taillights, and turn signals working? Testing your lights now gives you the opportunity to make a repair. While it could be a faulty wire on a trailer, it may be as simple as replacing a bad bulb.
Also, are your slow-moving-vehicle signs still reflective and visible from the rear of the equipment? The last thing you need as you start your spring planting is to get pulled over for a broken taillight or missing sign before you even reach your field.
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