Equipment: Get Ready Now To Maximize Success

Retailer, grower

From the first day you go to the field in the spring, the application season is a race — something like a daily Indianapolis 500. Before the green flag is unfurled, there are steps ag retailers can take to optimize their performance this season.

Both preseason and structured in-season maintenance can help keep your machines in the field, your customers smiling and your business ahead of the competition.  And, better maintenance means your machines will operate at a higher level this season — producing more accurate application of high-priced inputs and more satisfied growers. Long-term benefits of well-maintained equipment include a longer useful life, safer operation, and higher resale value at trade-in time.

Whether you have the expertise to do the work yourself or prefer to rely on your equipment dealer’s service technicians, there are some basic components that should receive a careful eye well before it’s time to go to the field and on a regular basis throughout the season.

Checking The Lists 

Paul Haefner, marketing specialist with AGCO‘s Application Equipment Division, has been working with the big machines for 13 years and offers this checklist as a starting point for preseason inspection. He also suggests reviewing the owner’s manual for comprehensive maintenance checklists for preseason inspection and in-season maintenance, as well as recommended service intervals.

Product Delivery Systems. Haefner reports these systems, most important for accurate application, are often the most neglected. Check and properly calibrate the flow meter, product pump, control valve, controller, plumbing, boom valves, nozzles and nozzle bodies. Replace worn components, especially nozzles. Bag test the calibration of air applicators and pan test spreaders as well. Calibrate the radar gun to ensure it’s accurate. Then, make certain correct numbers are entered into the application console.

Wiring. Be sure wiring is intact and protective wiring looms are in place and secure to prevent pulling or rubbing.

Tires. Today’s machines haul huge loads at high speeds and are equipped with heavy-duty tires designed to take a beating. Even though they’re engineered for the task, don’t take them for granted. Closely inspect tires for cracks and damage to the lugs. Check proper tire inflation with a tire gauge. In-season tire pressure should be checked at least weekly. While you’re there, re-torque the wheel bolts.

Grease points. Check all grease points to ensure they will take grease and that nothing is rusted or seized up, particularly those in the steering components. During the season, grease per the operator’s manual directions.

Booms. Booms can take a beating in the field, and are often victims of trees or poles. Verify booms are folding in and out correctly. Check actuators and hydraulic components as well.

Hydraulic System. Since most machines have hydraulic drives, it’s important to inspect all hydraulic hoses for abrasion and wear. Patch or replace as needed and install guards to prevent future problems. Close attention to hydraulic hoses is often the biggest way to prevent downtime in season.

Drive train. With the engine warm, ensure the drive system will reach maximum speeds in each gear range.

Fluids and Filters. Replace all filters and change all fluids at scheduled intervals.  Be sure to check fluid levels after refilling. Fuel tanks also should be drained to eliminate sediments from the system and water that may have condensed during the off-season.

Air Filters. Pre-season, check and replace the engine air filter and all cab filters.  Cab filters should be checked every 250 hours and cleaned or replaced as needed.

Belts, Chains, Hardware and Fasteners. Check for wear on belts and chains and replace appropriately. Visually inspect all hardware and fasteners to make certain they are in place, properly tightened, and free of rust.

Safety Equipment. Lighting should be functional for both roadway and field operation. Fire extinguishers, first aid kits, and fresh water wash tanks should be on board and ready for use.

Using The Dealer Network

If this list seems long and you’re short of time, manpower, or expertise to complete your own preseason inspection, many dealers offer options for comprehensive preventative maintenance inspection programs preseason and in-season.

Loren Steenstra, a field service technician for Ziegler Ag Equipment, spends the winter doing preseason inspections for the company’s application customers within a 75-mile radius of his home base — Ziegler’s Jackson, MN, facility.

“Many of our ag retail customers are running short on help that is experienced with the equipment, so they rely on us for preseason inspection and maintenance,” says Steenstra. “Our 4-hour inspection goes deeper than what the operators can do themselves and includes fluid analysis for each component. Analysis results come back from the lab in as little as 24 hours and can detect problems such as bearing failures, engine wear, seal failure, and many other deficiencies before they become a problem in the field later on.”

Depending on the dealer, the preseason inspection costs around $400 and results in a full report of findings, as well as a detailed estimate and parts list for any recommended repairs. In some cases, the cost of the inspection is applied toward the labor for needed repairs or waived with a qualifying repair order. In any case, considering machines often cover 700 to 1,000 acres per day during the season, the preseason inspection and repairs can pay for themselves quickly by keeping the machines in the field.

Educating customers about the importance of proper maintenance is a big part of the service provided by Altorfer Ag Products, Clinton, IL. During the past two years, Altorfer has hosted customer meetings to train operators and owners on proper preventative maintenance and operation of application equipment. 

“With the conditions these machines operate under, you can’t put the machine in the shed in the fall, pull it out in the spring, and expect your performance to be perfect,” says Derek Strunk, shop service manager for Altorfer. “Preventative maintenance inspections should be done before equipment is put away, and repairs done before the season begins. Operators can help this process by making a list of things they know need to be fixed so machines are ready to go when they’re called upon in the spring.”

About 50% of the application equipment customers served by Altorfer turn to the dealer and its mobile service crew for contract preseason maintenance and inspection service.

“The machines are changing fast, and our customers know we have extensive training and experience with the equipment, particularly the electronics,” says Strunk. “There are a lot of high-tech components involved, and this equipment runs in the worst possible conditions for computers — dirt, moisture, and fertilizer — which can cause some serious problems.

“Every one of the newer RoGator and TerraGator machines ties into a laptop computer for diagnosis, which really helps us uncover a problem faster and more accurately and also saves money for our customers,” he says.

Altorfer has numerous mobile field service technicians based across the territory. When an in-season repair is necessary, technicians usually respond within 24 hours and are equipped to complete nearly any repair right in the field. In many cases, parts ordered by 4 p.m. in-season can be delivered by 8 a.m. the following day to a convenient location near the customer.

“Our customers are getting bigger and covering more ground, and it’s important to us to keep them in the field maximizing their uptime and their profitability. Proper maintenance is a big part of that.  When they do need service, our technicians are literally equipped with a mobile repair shop in the field,” Strunk relates. “That includes a welder, a 5-ton crane, air compressor, 20-ton air jack, and a full complement of tools and a selection of common parts. We can pull an engine in the field if that’s needed to get the customer back to work.”

Leave a Reply

Equipment Stories
EquipmentTop 30 IRON WORKS Cartoons Of All Time
April 29, 2015
When CropLife IRON first started publishing more than a decade ago, long-time Publisher Al Strohmaier decided to start a cartoon Read More
EquipmentMeeting Changing Liquid Storage Needs
October 10, 2014
Tank and containment choices are expanding with shifts in farming practices and the economy. Read More
Precision AgGoogle Glass: New Tool For Ag
October 8, 2014
New wearable smart technologies such as Google Glass show potential to greatly impact how we accomplish the business of feeding the world. Read More
Equipment2014 Product Of The Year Voting
September 19, 2014
The deadline to vote for the 2014 CropLife IRON Product of the Year is October 31. Please cast your vote today to help us determine the winner. Read More
Top 100 Articles
CropLife 100The Andersons Acquires South Dakota Plant Nutrient Manufacturer Kay-Flo
May 20, 2015
The Andersons, Inc., ranked No. 22 on the CropLife 100, has purchased Kay Flo Industries of North Sioux City, SD. “This Read More
CropLife 100North Central Farmers Elevator, Wheat Growers Unification Approved By Board, Still Awaits Member Approval
May 13, 2015
The Boards of Directors for North Central Farmers Elevator (NCFE) and Wheat Growers (WG) have voted to approve the Unification Read More
CropLife 100AgGateway’s Barcoding Initiative Progressing Nicely
May 8, 2015
According to legend (or Wikipedia), the first step towards modern bar codes came back in 1948, when Bernard Silver, a Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Agriculture Acquires Minnesota Retailer
April 14, 2015
Pinnacle Agriculture Holdings, LLC, ranked No. 6 on the CropLife 100,  has successfully acquired Liebl Ag, LLC in Ada, MN.  Read More
CropLife 100CHS, Aurora Cooperative Complete Fertilizer Storage, Grain Shuttle Loading Facility
April 13, 2015
CHS Inc., the nation’s leading cooperative and ranked No. 5 on the CropLife 100, and Aurora Cooperative (ranked No. 21) Read More
CropLife 100GROWMARK Acquires Missouri Refined Fuels Terminal
April 2, 2015
Bloomington, IL-based GROWMARK and Magellan Pipeline Co. have entered into an agreement in which GROWMARK will acquire the refined fuels Read More
Latest News
ManagementA New Sprayer Company & UAV Research In The Spotlig…
May 21, 2015
CropLife’s Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj talk about a Dutch sprayer manufacturer entering the U.S. with a super-sized entry and Read More
HerbicidesFirst U.S. Sale Of Enlist Duo Herbicide Made By Dow Agr…
May 21, 2015
Dow AgroSciences has recorded the first U.S. sale of Enlist Duo herbicide with Colex-D Technology. This marks the first commercial Read More
CropLife 100The Andersons Acquires South Dakota Plant Nutrient Manu…
May 20, 2015
The Andersons, Inc., ranked No. 22 on the CropLife 100, has purchased Kay Flo Industries of North Sioux City, SD. “This Read More
EquipmentNORAC Options Coming To TerraGator
May 19, 2015
Utilizing NORAC’s Standard Control technology, boom height control is now available for TerraGators with Airmax Precision 2 and Benson Booms. This Read More
Crop InputsHelena Introduces New Soil Health Product
May 19, 2015
Helena Chemical Co. is helping agricultural producers maximize yields and efficiency with the introduction of Liquid Chisel, a new product Read More
Stewardship4R Nutrient Management Planning Certification Now Avail…
May 19, 2015
The American Society of Agronomy (ASA) and the International Certified Crop Adviser (ICCA) program announce a new specialty certification in Read More
Environmental Defense Fund logo
Paul SchrimpfEnvironmental Defense Fund: Appreciating Partners
May 19, 2015
I WAS deep in the throes of preparation for the Commodity Classic meeting that took place this past February, trying Read More
WebinarsUpcoming Webinars
May 19, 2015
Register for one of our upcoming Webinars or access our archive of past Webinars to view recordings of presentations that may be of interest to you. Read More
Syngenta Sign
Seed/BiotechSyngenta Responds To Lawyer’s Victory Claim In Vi…
May 18, 2015
A plaintiff’s lawyer has issued a public statement claiming that damages have been awarded in the Agrisure Viptera corn lawsuits Read More
StewardshipCould Australian Water Trading Approach Fit In Californ…
May 18, 2015
Ten years of drought isn’t a good thing. It doesn’t help the bottom line of farmers or the health of Read More
SpreadersDutch Sprayer Manufacturer To Enter U.S. Market
May 18, 2015
Dutch self-propelled sprayer manufacturer Agrifac Machinery has announced intentions to enter the U.S. market with two models of sprayers available Read More
FertilizerTFI Weighs In On Fertilizer Rail Transport Bill
May 14, 2015
With today’s House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure as a backdrop, The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) registered its support for policies Read More
ManagementA Visit To The 2015 Environmental Respect Spirit Award …
May 14, 2015
CropLife’s Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj talk about a recent visit to the CPS Spirit winner in St. Stephen’s Church, Read More
StewardshipBayer Entomologist Issues Statement On Annual Honeybee …
May 13, 2015
Richard (Dick) Rogers, Principal Scientist / Entomologist, Bayer Bee Care Center for Bayer CropScience LP, today issued the following statement Read More
Crop InputsKansas State Researchers Announce Resistant Kochia Brea…
May 13, 2015
Kansas State University researchers say new research helps explain why an invasive weed is developing resistance to a well-known herbicide, Read More
RR2X soybeans surround untreated check (center)
HerbicidesUSDA Study: Glyphosate Application More Prevalent In So…
May 13, 2015
Glyphosate—known by many trade names, including Roundup—has been the most widely used pesticide in the United States since 2001. It Read More
AdjuvantsHelena Chemical Introduces New Drift Control Adjuvant J…
May 13, 2015
Helena Chemical Co. introduces Justified, an innovative drift control agent designed to improve the performance and precision of spray applications Read More
CropLife 100North Central Farmers Elevator, Wheat Growers Unificati…
May 13, 2015
The Boards of Directors for North Central Farmers Elevator (NCFE) and Wheat Growers (WG) have voted to approve the Unification Read More