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Top tips for maintaining your agricultural machinery

Machinery is vital for the agricultural sector, especially during the busy harvest months. Agricultural machinery helps to keep farms running smoothly and malfunctions or breakdowns could be devastating for production, so it’s important to be aware of correct maintenance. Well maintained machines last longer, function more efficiently and have a reduced risk of breakdown or malfunction. If you work with agricultural machinery and want to know how to look after this equipment, read on for our guide to maintaining these essential machines, which can include:
  • Balers – balers are used to cut hay and straw and tightly package it for easier storage.
  • Combine harvesters – combines are used to harvest vast quantities of grain quickly and easily.
  • Planters – there are several different types of planter machinery, all used to plant seeds or crops. Some planters space seeds a few metres apart in long rows, while some automate the task of transplanting seedlings in the field.
  • Sprayers – as the name suggests, these machines spray fields and crops with insecticides, pesticides or fertiliser. They can also be used to water crops.
  • Shredders and cutters – these machines shred and cut unwanted growth from a field or planting area, including weeds.
  • Tractors – tractors are often used to pull other pieces of equipment, such as trailers or plows. They can also be used to power stationary machinery.
As you can see, agricultural machinery includes a wide range of equipment which perform vital functions on a farm. Breakdowns can be expensive to repair and it halts production which can result in losses for farmers. Improperly maintained machinery is also a safety hazard, so it’s essential that all workers know how to maintain these large pieces of equipment.

Purchase the right fuel for your machinery

The majority of agricultural machines are fuelled by red diesel, a gas oil specifically designed for agricultural, industrial and commercial use. Red diesel has many benefits, including maximum heat output, efficient combustion and clean burning properties. It’s also a good idea to switch to winter grade fuel during the colder months. UK weather is famously unpredictable and temperatures can drop below zero very quickly. These low temperatures can cause diesel to start to solidify, making it more difficult for it to move around the engine. Winter grade diesel is blended differently to prevent wax in the fuel from crystallising (which causes the fuel to start solidifying). You can also purchase an anti-waxing agent to add to the fuel tank yourself.

Use lubricants and greases

Lubricants are very important for maintenance and should be used on all moving parts of agricultural machinery. Lubricants reduce friction, extend machinery life and reduce operation costs, as well as protecting machines and their parts from damage. Some lubricants can also prolong oil life and improve engine efficiency. Remember to thoroughly clean machinery parts before adding new lubricant or grease to prevent build-ups and ensure your machines are running smoothly.

Regular cleaning

Agricultural work can be messy but it’s more difficult to spot signs of damage if your machines are very dirty. Oil should be changed regularly to prevent build-ups of dust and debris which can damage your machines. The exterior bodywork of machinery should be washed with soapy water and a high-pressure hose to remove buildups of dirt and mud.

Spot the signs of wear and tear

The more familiar you are with your machines, the easier it will be to spot signs of wear and tear. Signs of damage will depend on the individual machinery, but common issues to look out for include extreme vibrations, unusual noises, friction and overheating. It’s always best to get any issues looked at sooner rather than later to avoid a major breakdown and costly repairs.

Look after your fuel tank and bowser

Reliable fuel storage is essential for the agricultural industry and maintaining your fuel tanks ensures your machines have clean, efficient fuel when they need it. Fuel tanks should be professionally cleaned once every one or two years to remove buildups of sludge or other contamination. You should also regularly check your fuel tank for water. Water entering your tank accelerates fuel degradation, which can then cause damage to your machinery or lead to malfunctions. Water in a tank also promotes the growth of algae and bacteria, leading to a buildup of sludge which can contaminate your fuel and clog filters. Most tanks have an automatic gauge to detect any water and you should also examine the seals, vents and fill caps for any signs of damage. Replace any damaged parts straight away to prevent water from entering.

Check your air filters regularly

Air filters ensure that the engine has access to clean air for maximum fuel efficiency. Buildups of dust, dirt and debris can quickly block filters and prevent your engine from functioning at its best, so they need to be regularly cleaned. In most cases, you can simply remove the filter and knock or blow any buildup out of it. Heavily clogged filters may need some help from an air compressor to blast the debris out. You’ll need to replace your air filter if it’s still fully clogged or if unclogging reveals signs of damage.

Agricultural fuel and lubricant services from Craggs Energy

If you’re in need of agricultural fuel services in Lancashire and Yorkshire, get in touch with the team at Craggs Energy. We’re proud to have built strong links with our local agricultural community and farmers over the past 10 years and we understand the unique challenges faced by the farming sector. We know that lack of fuel can be devastating, especially during peak periods, which is why we’ve put together a range of reliable services to suit your needs. For more information about our agricultural services and gas oil delivery, give us a call today or get in touch via our website.