In many respects, the farm equipment pieces you use on your farm are some of the most vital assets beyond good dirt and healthy livestock. From tractors and plows to post drivers and hay rakes, these vital tools make handling everyday tasks an efficient process. Most equipment serves multiple important purposes throughout all seasons of the year, and well-serviced equipment can last through the seasons for many years.
Without question, farm equipment comes at a high expense for any agricultural business owner. Additionally, maintenance and repairs for some equipment can be so significant that the costs eat up the profitability of your operation. Therefore, protecting your farm equipment for the long term is undeniably important. Take a look at these tips to protect your expensive equipment and keep your farm operating without interruptions.
1. Keep track of equipment documentation and owner’s manuals
The documents, receipts and manuals that come with your farm equipment contain vital information. Each time you purchase a piece, tuck these items away safely for later use — you will likely refer to these documents regularly. Maintenance, warranty and even safe operation procedures can vary between pieces. For example, if you have multiple tractors, each may have unique maintenance schedules outlined by the manufacturer. When you have a piece of equipment professionally serviced, keep maintenance records for future reference.
2. Conduct periodic inspections of your equipment
Farm equipment can be put through a lot of stress with everyday use. It can be easy to miss damage that could make the equipment either risky to use or vulnerable to extensive damage that will require costly repairs. In regular intervals, take the time to do a thorough visual inspection of your equipment. Look for loose bolts, points of damage, dangling cables or wires, dysfunctional lights and anything that looks out of place.
3. Make routine maintenance a priority
Anything with an engine will need routine maintenance. Likewise, anything with moving parts will likely need to be regularly lubricated to prevent unintended wear. Create a routine maintenance checklist that covers all aspects of maintenance for each equipment piece on your farm. This checklist should outline when routine actions should take place on each item, such as oil changes, filter replacements, lubricating and fluid top-offs.
4. Take the time to clean your equipment as needed
All farm equipment gets dirty, but regular cleaning can be incredibly important. Something as simple as fertilizer or other farm chemicals left idle on a piece of metal can cause deterioration over time. A good plan is to always clean farm equipment at the end of the season or when it will not be in use for a few months.
5. Never skimp on tire or hitch maintenance
Perform routine checks on trailer hitches and couplings of all trailers and equipment you tow, as well as on any tractors, trucks or ATVs used this way. Keep trailer hitches and connecting mechanisms free of dirt and rust as well. Further, keep your tires well-maintained; bad tires on a tractor or ATV put undue stress on the chassis and axles.
6. Have special equipment calibrated and serviced
Scales, thermometers, hydraulic pumps and even some hay equipment will need to be calibrated from time to time. If you’re familiar with calibration techniques on pieces that require it, make sure you routinely handle these adjustments. If you have highly technical or especially complicated pieces that need specialized calibration, always get your equipment serviced by a technician as recommended by the manufacturer.
7. Store equipment out of the weather when possible
A farm storage building can be one of the best forms of insurance when it comes to protecting your farm equipment. Overexposure to the weather, sunlight and varying temperatures can lead to considerable wear that could otherwise be avoided. Therefore, store the equipment pieces you can in either a barn or storage building when not in use.
Properly maintaining the agricultural equipment your farm relies on saves money and hassle. Procedures as simple as cleaning your equipment and storing it out of the weather when not in use protect these valuable farm assets and your bottom line as a business owner.