Is Your Machinery Ready for Winter?
Five Steps to Ensure Your Equipment is Prepped for Winter StorageAs harvest draws to an end for many farms across the country, it’s time that your machinery got a much-deserved break. Spring will come quickly, and you’ll be better prepared to hit the field if you give your equipment some attention now. Properly winterizing your equipment will help improve performance in the spring and maintain the resale value.
As you’re working to prep your machinery for winter, here are a few steps to remember:
1. Follow the operator’s manual recommendations.
Remember that general winterizing recommendations (including these steps) should never replace the recommendations found in your equipment operator’s manual. Store your manuals in an accessible location for easy access when needed. If you happen to lose your operator's manual, check your manufacturer's website to purchase a download or printed copy of a replacement.
2. Check fluids.
Before putting away tractors and combines, be sure to change the oil and replace air filters. Clean engine oil will reduce internal engine corrosion during storage. You should also top off the fuel and hydraulic oil tanks to reduce water accumulation and tank corrosion.1 Antifreeze loses its effectiveness over time, so be sure to check antifreeze for the correct freezing temperature (use an antifreeze tester if needed).
3. Clean out combines, planters, drills and air seeders.
Removing dirt, dust and grime is essential for equipment longevity. As you’re cleaning out planters, drills and air seeders, refer to your operator’s manual for instructions on removing seed plates and other components. If not done properly, pressure could build up around seals, brushes and seed plates, causing warping and bending.1
You’re likely already using a high-pressure washer on your farm somewhere—they’re great for tough-to-clean surfaces—but don’t make direct contact with any seals or they could be damaged. To help prevent mice and other pests from harboring in your equipment over winter, clean all grain and plant material left in grain tank and augers.
Pro Tip: Try using compressed air after washing to help dry surfaces, then run your machinery for 10 minutes (or longer) to help dry off excess water from hard to reach spots.2
4. Save data and service yield monitors.
Before you stop thinking about your yield monitors and precision data this season, make sure you save your data and upload it to FBN. Verify it is saving correctly and back it up to your location for storage. Next, check any mechanical components of your yield monitors for necessary maintenance, such as the moisture and yield sensors, the display or the receiver.
And finally, post-calibrate yield monitors if needed. You can learn more about calibrating your yield monitors and properly saving data here. Building good practices around calibrating yield monitors and properly saving data will be key to getting the most out of your precision equipment.
5. Make necessary repairs.
Repair damaged or malfunctioning equipment now to prevent delays in the spring, and ensure broken equipment doesn’t rust or further deteriorate through the winter months. Also consider repainting worn surfaces to prevent corrosion.
6. Store equipment properly.
When possible, store your equipment inside a building to improve equipment performance and resale value. At the very least, cover your equipment if you do not have access to a fully enclosed building, shop or shed.
1. University of Nebraska-Lincoln, J. Smith. (2001, October 26). Clean, winterize farm equipment to extend its life. Crop Watch.
2. Utah State University Extension. Clean, winterize farm equipment to extend its life. Retrieved from: https://extension.usu.edu/cache/EZPlug_Files/Uploads/Winterize_Equipment.pdf (2018).