Diversified Agriculture and Natural Resources Agent
With the harvest season coming to an end and cold temperatures sneaking in, now is the time to start preparing your equipment to withstand the upcoming winter weather. Just like cattle growing their winter coats, or lining the north side of an old barn with square bales, farm equipment should also be prepared to survive the freezing temperatures.
Start your winterization process by properly cleaning and servicing the equipment that is going to be stored. Remove dirt and debris from the outside and inside of the machine. A power washer can be used to clean the exterior, but be careful to avoid spraying the high intensity water around seals. Do a regular service of the equipment by changing the oil, cleaning or replacing air filters and checking the tire pressures. It is also critical to check the antifreeze, lubricate bearings and joints and remove the battery, if possible, and store in a dry place.
The next step, but often the most procrastinated, is to repair any damage done to the machines during the previous growing season. Properly repairing machinery cuts back on rust and deterioration and lets you get started promptly in the spring. Putting a fresh coat of paint on repaired areas will also help to cut down on corrosion.
One step that should never be forgotten is to clean out the equipment. For planters, drills, seeders and combines, that means removing any excess seeds and plant materials left in the bins or augers. For balers, any partial bales or remaining hay should be cleaned out to prevent rust and decrease tension on the belts.
The final step, if it is an option for your operation, is to store the equipment in a shed. This is the most effective way to protect machinery from weathering. If building space is limited, the next best option is to securely cover the equipment with a water resistant tarp.
Properly winterizing equipment will not only cut down on the headaches next year, but it will also increase the life and resale value of the equipment in the future.
For more information, contact Jeri Geren, Diversified Agriculture and Natural Resources, firstname.lastname@example.org, (620) 331-2690.