Efficient work cannot happen without robust equipment that operates trouble-free. This is true of every industry. This is because failures always involve some loss, downtime, delays in production and the associated costs.
To ensure a long service life for machinery and minimise the risk of failure, it is essential to carry out proper maintenance of all mechanical equipment. Regular servicing, care and replacement of worn parts are essential to ensure the long and uninterrupted use of your machines. When it comes to agricultural machinery, it is extremely important to clean the equipment before winter storage and provide adequate maintenance.
In this article, we tell you how to properly and effectively clean and maintain your spreader after the season and prepare it for winter.
Agricultural machinery operates under specific conditions. Rain, wind, hail, heat, sun exposure – different weather conditions during the growing season are a daily occurrence. In addition, machines such as spreaders come into contact with different types of fertiliser, which is a very specific material that leaves its mark on the equipment, sheet metal and mechanisms.
Good quality spreaders are already adequately protected in the production process and prepared for a wide variety of conditions and materials. However, in order to prolong their lifespan and avoid breakdowns, it is a good idea to carry out some regular, treatments especially after the sowing season to properly protect the equipment against winter.
Once the harvest and growing season is over, machinery is put in for storage on most farms. In the meantime, care needs to be taken that the machinery survives the winter and can be used in a safe and trouble free manner when the new season starts.
The most important thing is to clean the spreader. Clearing fertiliser or crop leftovers from the spreader is actually recommended at the end of each working day.
Before cleaning the spreader, it is important to unhitch the drive shaft, switch off the tractor and secure the machine with the parking brake, not forgetting to place chocks under the wheels for added safety.. This is to ensure work safety. It is very important to take special care when cleaning with the load box assembly raised and also with the tailgate of the adapter open, if the machine has one. Disconnect the cardan shaft from the tractor for cleaning.
The spreader should not be cleaned with organic solvents or other preparations of unknown origin. This is because the use of such substances can cause damage to painted, rubber or plastic surfaces.
A high-pressure washer with water heating will work best for cleaning a spreader. This makes it easy to clean the unit of residual organic matter, mud, dust and other debris. When washing, remember to avoid directing a strong jet of water at electrical sockets and other sensitive parts on the machine.
After a thorough wash, use a compressor and compressed air to dry especially those parts of the machine where water could accumulate and thus expose the machine to corrosion. Compressed air will also help us get rid of dirt from areas that cannot be cleaned with water.
Thorough cleaning of all spreader parts is extremely important, as any leftover residues of plants, fertiliser and mud can damage and corrode the machine surfaces when not in use.
We should start preparing the machine for winter downtime by thoroughly cleaning it after the field season is over. The next step is maintenance and replacing any worn parts.
It is important to carefully inspect the equipment after washing and drying and check for any signs of damage that need repair. Sometimes it may be necessary to touch up paint as well as replace or repair worn parts. If we do this before winter, we can be sure that the machine will be ready for use in spring when we start work.
It is also very important to use the right grease for the lubrication points whenever needed. Before winter, it is also a good idea to protect the quick couplings of the hydraulic system from possible contamination. We can, for example, wrap them in stretch film.
Besides, after the season and after washing the spreader before maintenance, run the spreader and check the bearings for excessive vibration and damage, and replace whenever needed.
Preparing a machine for winter downtime requires a thorough inspection. For example, it is a good idea to check any bolted and pin connections. If play is detected, it should be tightened or fixed.
It is also recommended to check the oil level in the gearbox before winter. If there is not enough, the level should be topped up to the lower edge of the filler hole. Once the spreader is raised above the ground, the pressure in the wheels of the machine must be reduced to around 0.1- 0.15 MPa. We should also remember to clean and properly maintain the cardan shaft.
Manure spreaders and other agricultural machinery are best stored in winter in a dry, covered area that provides adequate protection from rainfall and sunlight. If this is not possible, the machine should be cover with at least a thick tarpaulin anchored securely to the ground to make sure it can’t be moved or blown away by the wind.
If agricultural machinery is not protected against winter weather, its service life can be significantly reduced. Leftover snow, fallen leaves or residues of uncleaned matter can corrode the structure, which causes significant deterioration in the condition of the equipment and its functionality.