Winter has entrenched itself in the Midwest, but farmers can hardly hibernate during this time.
The 2022 growing season is only a few short months away, and keeping equipment cleaned and prepped for any spring fieldwork could prevent delays when farmers need to be moving quickly.
Courtney Brumbach, Service Marketing Manager with Case IH, said farm equipment needs to be treated well or, like any machine, it will pay the price.
“Look at your tractor like you would your car,” Brumbach said. “Simply popping the hood and checking in on the engine is an easy way to keep costs down and fix issues when they’re small. Hoses will get loose and they’ll leak.”
Cleaning the tractor from any fall use, that should be step one.
“If you have dirt or mud caked inside of wheel wells or below your equipment, it can make a mess,” Brumbach said. “It can increase rust and erode enamel coatings on your rims.”
Making sure it is protected from the elements in a shed or garage is important, said Ben Rice, a representative with Caterpillar. Any fluids on hand for the equipment should be held at room temperature so the cold doesn’t affect viscosity.
“If you experience extreme cold, I’d think about removing the battery from the machine and storing it in a room-temperature area,” Rice said in an article with Caterpillar.com.
Not everyone is putting their equipment in hibernation, however, as some will find days to do fieldwork, livestock work or use tractors as a snow plow. Rice noted to watch for ice, as it can make things slick getting in and out of a cab.
“Make sure your equipment heats up before you run it,” Rice said. “Use a block heater for the quickest way to warm your engine. When fluid gets cold, it gets thick.”
He also suggested filling the gas tank each night as less fuel can increase the chance for freezing, causing problems when the equipment is needed most.
When doing daily checks, Brumbach said to keep an eye out for any rust. This is a good time to apply rust-preventative paint and find any chains on a planter that need to be replaced.
“When the operation of the planter chain is less than smooth, this will decrease the seeding accuracy,” Brumbach said. “Make sure tires are inflated properly as well. That’s adds to accuracy as well.”
Examine the seed conveyor belt. Extended use, particularly with some seed treatments, can cause brittleness. That makes for a rougher trip through the machine and can create uneven rows and population.
With shortages in many areas at the moment, Cuff also noted it may be difficult to get the parts needed if any repairs are required. If there are any routine items that need to be ordered, do that as soon as possible. If the part isn’t going to be available in time, set up a backup plan with a dealer or other farmer to rent equipment so you can still get work done.