Yes, it may take a bit of extra time and effort to take care of your equipment, but just remember how much time and effort it’s saving you out in the field. You owe your farming equipment some TLC and you’ll find that the more often you do it, the less effort it will require when you do it again.
It all starts with a maintenance check. Which, some farmers don’t realise, needs to happen on a regular basis. If they plan on keeping their farm equipment running for a long time, that is. The results of these maintenance checks should be recorded in order to track where any issues may come from. To be more precise, these checks should be run both before and after the piece of equipment has been used.
The main things that need to be checked (other than the general operational ability) are fluids, electrical systems, loose objects, filters and tyres. Fluids, especially oils, need to replaced regularly and are vital for smooth and lubricated processes which will decrease the chance of rust and general wear and tear.
The easiest way to go about it is to create a maintenance checklist for each piece of equipment that the operator needs to run at the agreed times.
A good clean
Now, you can’t exactly do a thorough maintenance check if you can’t clearly see what’s happening in all the areas of the farming equipment. For that reason, you may want to make sure your equipment has been cleaned to ensure you don’t miss any possible issues.
The easiest thing to do is to hose it down with a high-pressure hose and get rid of the thick and obvious sections of dirt. After that, you’ll need to put in some elbow grease and work your hands between the rotary blades, hinges and other small nooks and crannies of the machine. Once your equipment is looking as good as new, it will be quicker and more accurate to run a maintenance check then. It’s also a good way to keep things from rusting or being clogged.
Don’t push it to the max: replace when necessary
Once you’ve done a maintenance check, you’ll know whether there are any parts that are looking a little sad or like they’re on their last legs. Common practice amongst most farmers is to continue using that piece of equipment until the part gives in. You know, get the most value out of the product or what not. That is, probably, the worst thing you can do for the entire piece of machinery.
If you notice that something isn’t working, sounding or looking like it’s supposed to, it’s time to call the necessary company and find a spare part to replace it. By doing this you reduce the risk of your equipment compensating for a faulty attachment and doing permanent damage. It’s also important to assess the “production line” of parts that are connected to the noticeably faulty one, you may find there is more than one culprit and part to be replaced.
Train staff to correctly operate machinery
You can go through all the effort of maintenance checks, cleaning and making sure every part of your equipment works properly, but that won’t exactly help if your staff aren’t operating the equipment as they should be.
It’s important that all farming equipment operators know what they’re doing. Not only for the sake of the farm’s crops or pastures, but for the equipment’s sake as well. You should also assign maintenance responsibilities to make sure they are completed and you can even arrange to have new staff members assist in these matters so they too can learn.
Store your equipment properly
Especially in the case of rust damage, you’re going to need a durable, dry and clean shed to store your farming equipment. It’s one more building on your large plot of land that is necessary to keep your tractors, spreaders, rotary cutters, graders and mixers protected. It’s a simple way to care for your equipment and help it to last for as long as possible.
When in doubt, whip the manual out
A general rule of thumb around equipment care is “when in doubt, whip the manual out”. It’s got nothing to do with pride and everything to do with the wellbeing of your equipment. The manual is created by the manufacturers in order to ensure the buyer of their equipment gets the most value from their purchase.
In the manual, you’ll find instructions on how to correctly use the equipment (no one questions your ability to use farming equipment as a farmer), how to care for the equipment, as well as troubleshooting solutions to general problems that you may experience with the equipment. The manual has all the information you need to sort out any issues yourself before taking any equipment in to be serviced by a third party.
All you have to do is read it and make sure all operators read it too. Simple.