Tooling up for spring

Winter is almost over, which means it’s time for spring cleaning — farmer style. An equipment inspection of your tractors, trailers, and augers, and other machinery will give you a head start for planting season.

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 purchase a print copy.

Step 1: Clean

Clean decks, housings, and rakes of any debris. Cleaning not only makes inspection easier, it also serves as a safety precaution because chaff and other debris can ignite from the heat of farm machinery. While cleaning, take note of anything that may need repairs.

Step 2: Use a farm-equipment inspection checklist

Ensure that your equipment is in top working condition before you hit the fields.

•  Nuts and bolts: Make sure all nuts and bolts are secure.

•  Tires: Check pressure and tread wear for each tire. Tighten lug nuts.

•  Blades: Sharpen and replace as needed.

•  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.

•  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 over the winter. 

•  Hitches: Make sure you have the proper hitch pins and safety clips for what you plan to pull. (Read hitching how-tos.)

•  Brakes: Adjust brakes, drives, and clutches according to the manual.

•  Cooling system: Look for cracks from freezing and leaks and check coolant level. 

•  Hoses, belts, and plastic parts: Check all belts, rubber hoses, and plastic parts like fans for cracks. 

•  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.

•  Batteries: Does the battery hold a charge?

•  Engine and steering: Run the engine for at least 5 minutes to let it warm up after the long winter — you may need to reconnect the battery. Also, ensure steering and exhaust systems are in working order. 

•  Safety Equipment: Make sure all shields and guards are in place and in good working order.

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 tail light or missing sign before you even reach your field.

For more information

Contact your local agent or check out our farm coverages.