Hitching how-tos

Many of the 2.2 million farms in the United States are stirring to life, preparing fields for spring planting and transporting livestock. Take a few extra moments to inspect your farm equipment and properly hitch it to your farm vehicles.

Inspect the equipment. Pay special attention to areas where you see rust because the hookup may break in half or pull apart.

Put it in park. Put your tractor in park before you hook up equipment or make adjustments. This secures the tractor on both hills and flat ground. In wet or muddy conditions, it prevents drivers from accidentally putting the tractor in gear if they slip or catch clothes on a knob or lever.

Use the right hitch pin. Don’t use just any bolt found on your farm or in a drawer to hitch your equipment. Hitch pins are designed to fit the hitch-pin hole without excessive movement. In addition, they are designed for tractor power ratings and loads.  

Hitch to the drawbar only. The tractor drawbar is the only safe place to connect a load. Do not hitch higher than the drawbar as this may affect tractor stability. Improperly hitching higher than the drawbar may cause rear overturn where the tractor flips backwards. By hitching to the drawbar, you help ensure all pulling forces stay below the tractor’s center of gravity.

The National Safe Tractor and Machinery Operation Program recommends that the drawbar be placed midpoint between the rear tires to maximize pulling power. Hillside operations may require a drawbar adjustment to one side to balance the pulling forces.

Use safety clips and safety chains. Equipment can come unhooked especially on inclines, with heavy loads, and higher speeds, so don't skip the chain.

Inspect your insurance coverage. Make sure your equipment has the coverage it needs. Call your Grinnell Mutual agent and make sure you're protected.