Farm Equipment Maintenance
Reprinted from eXtension.org
The operating condition of farm implements has far-reaching effects, ranging from fuel efficiency for the tractors that pull those implements to overall productivity.
Using best management practices, combined with the proper selection and operation of machinery, helps to maximize energy efficiency when using field equipment.
Breakdowns and slow productivity delay field work, which can result in lower yields, so maintenance is crucial for energy and financial savings.
Repair and maintain your equipment before you get to the field. Adjust equipment to reduce draft — or friction — that can increase fuel consumption.
Don’t forget to lubricate per manufacturer’s recommendations. Poorly lubricated bearings, dull blades and cutting edges, and loose drive belts require more energy and power to complete a given task.
These farm implements require specific maintenance:
- Replace worn tillage surfaces — plow shears, chisel points, disk blades — on tillage tools.
- Check disks for worn bearings and missing scrapers.
- Check and tighten nuts and bolts.
- Replace worn shovels or sweeps on spring-tooth harrows and field cultivators.
- Level front-to-back and side-to-side so tillage depth is even.
- Check resets.
A planter that isn’t working correctly wastes energy, fertilizer and seed, due to reduced yields.
- Check that disk openers on planters turn freely and scrapers are adjusted properly.
- Check tire inflation — important for planter calibration — and packer wheel down-pressure.
- Make sure the seed dispersal mechanism works properly and monitor for proper operation.
- Clean seed drop tubes.
- On air planters, check seals, trueness of seed drum or disks, and air pressure.
When harvesting forage, three things have a significant effect on fuel consumption: length of cut, knife sharpness, and knife-shearbar clearance. Roughly 40 percent of the energy used by a harvester is consumed by the cutterhead, so dull knives and worn shearbars can have considerable effect on fuel efficiency.
- Increasing the length of cut reduces fuel consumption but must be weighed against the nutritional requirements of the animals and storage facility. If you have a choice, longer length cuts will save energy and money.
- Dull knives require more energy to cut forage. Keep them sharp. Check knives and knife bolts on forage harvesters, mowers, and other equipment daily when under heavy use and after striking an object. Rotary or disc mower knives are typically subjected to higher rates of wear and prone to break more because they are more exposed than sickle bar mowers.
- The cutterhead power requirement increases as the knife to shearbar clearance increases, doubling for each 0.01-increase in clearance. Each time the knives are sharpened, the shearbar must be adjusted. Refer to your forage harvester’s operator's manual for adjustment instructions.