Top tips for maintaining farm machinery during hay and silage season
It is important we check our machinery to make sure it is in full working condition.
Kelly Friel, from industrial tools retailer Zoro, tells us what maintenance we should conduct on our farm machinery for an easy hay and silage season.
Top tips for maintaining farm machinery during hay and silage season #HandyHints
Farm machinery needs to be maintained regularly, especially before hay and silage season, to avoid breakdowns and safety issues which may put a halt to your busy schedule.
Before you use any machinery, you should always check that:
- Fuel levels are topped up.
- Oil levels are correct. You should check this when the engine is warm but switched off. This might require you to turn the engine on for a couple of minutes, then turning off the machine completely.
- Tyre pressure is at the correct level according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.
- There are no visible signs of wear or leaking, especially to belts and hydraulic hoses. If there are, fix them according to manufacturer’s specifications.
- Power take-off (PTO) shafts are in place and fully covered by a guard.
- All lights are working, especially if you’re going to be working into the night.
- All switches are working correctly.
- All nuts and bolts are tightened properly so nothing comes loose.
- No dirt or debris has entered components during use. This can collect moisture and cause rusting. If you need to, clean them with pressurised air to avoid damaging the machinery.
- All electrical components are intact.
- All joints are greased.
- Always conduct maintenance checks when machinery is turned off to avoid injury.
Before using mowers, you should always check:
- For any blockages. These can occur in mowers when grass gets trapped. Blockages can usually mean a worn triple v-belt, which might need tensioning or replacing.
- Skids on drums. Missing skids can lead to grass being cut incorrectly and blades breaking.
- That the deflectors on your drum strips are maintained and correctly aligned.
Conditioners need to be in full working order if you want to make good quality hay and silage. Before using it, you should:
- Check that all joints are sufficiently lubricated.
- Adjust the tread width of wheels to avoid going over and ruining the windrow.
- Adjust features according to the conditions of your field. For example, if the field is quite stony, adjust the floatation to be lighter to avoid damage to knives or discs.
- Check that all the components of the cutter bar are intact and undamaged, including knives, lifters and discs. Discs should be able to move, but excessive movement means it could be loose.
Rakes and tedders
Rakes and tedders are essential for spreading your hay, helping it dry out quickly and making the baling process easier.
Aside from the usual machinery checks, you should also check your rotary rake or wheel rake (depending on which sort you have) and make sure that they’re in good shape and are sufficiently oiled.
Balers and compactors
When it comes to balers and compactors, after conducting all of the regular maintenance checks, you should also carefully check that:
- The bale chamber is free of moisture and debris and clean as necessary.
- Knives are sharp and intact.
- The net wrap and twine wrap are clean and lubricated so that they don’t stick.
- Tines and stripper plates are free of damage.
- The cam track is not worn or damaged.
- Flighting and bearings on augers are not broken.
By following these basic steps, your machinery should be in good working order to keep you on schedule this hay and silage season.
It’s important that you always conduct these maintenance checks in advance in case any repairs or replacements need to be made.
Always refer to the manufacturer’s instructions on how to store your equipment correctly when not in use.