Spring is a time of growth and renewal in nature. For farmers, it is also a time to take to the shop, or the barnyard, for some equipment maintenance before the demands and urgency of planting season take over.
“Good maintenance is key,” says Steve Hayes, director of training for Evolution Ag, a farm-equipment supplier in Ohio. “You can’t find everything, but you can get a catch a lot of stuff with an inspection to prevent breakdowns in the field.”
Common problems that dealers see every year during planting season typically involve calibration, monitor settings and unforeseen part failure. And with the increased use of precision technology and sensors, there is even more to go over.
“The last four or five years, there’s been a pretty healthy increase of people doing more and more precision,” Hayes says. “With precision farming, a lot of times, people have a misunderstanding that it’s all about yield. In reality, it’s more about handling your input costs. If you can control inputs better, there is still profit in the end, and that’s huge.”
Many dealerships offer to send a technician to the farm and go over the equipment. Often times they will spend an hour or more checking for areas of wear and potential problems and then discuss their findings with the farmer. From that point, the farmer can decide where to take action.
For the do-it-yourself farmer, Hayes recommends the following preventative measures to catch minor issues before they become a major breakdown.
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Start with an inspection:
- Check all ground-engaging components and look for excessive wear
- Spin all parts with bearings and make sure they turn freely
- Check that all firming points for seed trenches are to specifications
- Check and adjust all chains
- Inspect all tires and check for optimum air pressure
- Ensure adequate lubrication on all parts of planter
- Update precision farming maps and add any new fields
- Make sure all monitors are set up correctly
- Inspect all parts of seed meters, look for any wear or damage
- Install correct seed disc and make any needed adjustments
- Periodically dig up seeds when planting to check rate and depth
Go over your sprayer as well:
- Perform basic maintenance – oil change, air filters, etc.
- Know your products and application rates
- Adjust monitors and install correct spray tips
- Once in use, look for any inconsistencies in spray application