Radium Engineering has a wide range of farm equipment for sale to cater for the many different types of farming activities and farm sizes. Farm equipment and farm implements form part of the farmer’s all-important input costs every year. Profitability in crop and livestock production and in poultry farming is largely driven by input cost management – the lower the total of input costs, the greater the profits!
So, when it comes to buying agricultural equipment, it’s a question of weighing up the costs as well as ensuring that you buy the right piece of farming equipment that South Africa has on offer. This is to ensure that you don’t sit with an implement or piece of machinery that’s not 100 percent suitable for the job that you want to use it for on the farm.
The right mix in poultry feeding
For poultry farmers, production cost is one of your main considerations while you decide on the exact amounts of feed and the types of feed to use to achieve optimum nutritional value for your broiler birds.
With feed being one of your more expensive input costs – making up to a whopping 70 percent of total costs for broiler production – you can mitigate costs and still be efficient. Also, remember that the cost of fodder changes depending on the cost of maize and other raw materials used to make poultry feed. In the end, savings on fodder translates into bigger profits in your pocket, so it’s definitely worth the effort.
Vertical Feed Mixers
Vertical Feed Mixers can shred and combine all the components of a unifeed ration and all the models in the Xeno range can be loaded with whole round or square bales. These machines are used for processing great quantities of fibrous products like straw and hay, in particular, making it an ideal piece of agricultural machinery for both livestock and poultry producers on small- to medium-sized farms with narrow or low ways.
It’s these smaller sized poultry farms that can benefit from using a Vertical Feed Mixer to help get the feed mix right, improve nutrition and save on costs of fodder. These trailed mixer wagons come with either one, two or three vertical augers. The augers have a differential diameter spiral equipped with knives and counter-knives.
And, remember, there are also farmers who grow their own livestock feed because it costs less than commercial feed. These farmers too can benefit greatly by using vertical mixers if they’re farming on a large enough scale. If not, getting the feed mix right can be done by hand.
Horizontal Feed Mixers
The horizontal mixer is a trailed wagon with two horizontal counter-rotating augers. The machine is designed for the prompt shredding and mixing of all kinds of products such as maize, cereals and seeds to get a soft and uniform unifeed ration for your poultry and livestock to easily consume. It is possible to load whole round and square bales into these machines without any pre-cutting required, making it a convenient piece of feeding equipment for farmers.
Horizontal Feed Mixers are a terrific help in precision feeding and evenly mixing large quantities of feed. These units are more suitable for larger farms. Exceptional construction quality assures that the mixers and wagons last a lifetime and are reliable with low running expenses and most importantly, the equipment helps you achieve tip-top results with your farm feeding schemes.It’s clear that both types of mixers, which are available for sale in South Africa, have their benefits. The type of mixer you use will depend on the type and size of your farm and your unique feed needs. Contact Radium today for more product information and to chat with one of our knowledgeable sales reps.
Orchard and vineyard management and management of row crops and pastures all require intensive maintenance practices if you want to improve your yield. Mowing is an integral part of a variety of crop maintenance practices along with soil cultivation, keeping pests and diseases at bay and the like on farms where fruit, maize, sunflowers and other row crops such as beans and nuts are produced. Vineyards and cotton trees also require maintenance by regularly mowing the floor of the vineyard and plantation to get rid of weeds and grass that get out of control.
This improves the condition of the soil, heightens the chances of a strong yield and helps contain plant disease. In addition, some farmers in South Africa have started sideline businesses that also require mowing of lawns and sports turfs alongside their farming operations, all with the view of diversifying their farming operations and boosting their incomes.
Examples of diversifying for farmers can include building holiday cottages or wedding and conference facilities on their farms while other farmers have embarked on sideline gardening and landscaping services at venues like golf courses, municipal parks, sports grounds or nearby housing complexes.
This is when buying a rotary mower is potentially a worthwhile investment because it is used in both agricultural production and in gardening and landscaping.
Rotary cutter vs rotary mower
Farmers often ask whether it’s best to invest in a rotary cutter or a rotary mower. A rotary cutter is a mower attached to the back of a tractor which is used for a variety of cutting tasks including reclaiming overgrown bush, maintaining pastures, making use of cover crops and caring for lawn areas. Purchasing a rotary cutter is a great investment as it is a piece of essential farming equipment in South Africa.
Knowing which machine to choose depends on the type of maintenance which is required.
A rotary mower will work best if you need to cut grass and lawn regularly because you’re left with a cleaner and more manicured look than using rotary cutters as a result of the way the blades of the mower work and because of its varying speeds. A mower also covers more acreage, and faster, than rotary cutter blades.
While you won’t get that same clean, manicured finish when you use a rotary cutter, you can rest assured the cutter is a workhorse that will cut down almost anything that grows in its path. The blades are not rigidly attached to the spindle but are attached to hinges so that they pivot when they make contact with a hard object such as a rock.
Rotary cutters are mostly used in the tending and maintenance of row crops, pastures, orchards and vineyards while rotary mowers serve a dual purpose in farming as well as in gardening and landscaping. Unlike rotary cutters that are not suitable for lawns, tractor-drawn rotary mowers can be used to cut lawns and greens. In orchards and vineyards, rotary mowers with their open construction fiercely scatter the grass once it’s cut.
Trimming equipment for fruit trees in orchards and gardens and for vines on wine farms is essential. Once more, you have to invest in the right trimming and pruning equipment and do a cost analysis if you want to properly maintain your farm operations and increase yields.
Trees and vineyards benefit in many ways from trimming and pruning including experiencing healthy growth, developing strong root systems, requiring less water and nutrients and most importantly, pruning and trimming facilitates mechanised harvesting in vineyards and orchards. Pruning and trimming are further crop maintenance practices along with irrigation and the eradication of standing water that are key to successful crop cultivation.
Growing your own vegetables for livestock feed is a viable solution for farmers who have limited access to high-quality feed due to ongoing drought conditions. Depending on where your farm is situated, the availability of feed might be limited, meaning that it will become more expensive to feed your animals.
Making your own feed is affordable. It also means that you have complete control over the nutrients your animals are consuming, and you can test and adjust your approach accordingly to suit their needs. While it might seem like a challenging task, there are plenty of vegetables and crops to choose from that will add the much-needed vitamins and minerals to your animals’ diet. In order to get started, all you need is the correct farm equipment to mix your feed in and the correct crop seeds to begin your harvest.
Because you’re not utilising these vegetables to sell or to consume yourself, the pressure of picking your vegetables fresh is less. So, if you choose to grow your vegetables in bulk, mix them in your feed mixer equipment and store the feed for later use, make sure that your feed is stored in a dry area to avoid anything from spoiling it. Here are the most popular vegetables and crops used for livestock feed:
Corn and grazing corn
Maize is a popular choice for livestock as it provides your animals with a high-energy diet, and can be consumed by all ages. This forms a staple for any animal’s diet, as it helps animals to digest their food easily and deliver healthy waste. Due to water shortages, the availability of corn is starting to become scarce. If you grow your own, you will be able to reduce costs significantly, without having to supplement your livestock feed with other chemical protein options to make up for the lack of maize in their diets.
If you choose to allow your animals to graze their corn intake over mixing it into their feed, you will need to manage their intake daily and rotate your livestock when corn gets below a certain height. The reason for this is that it can affect your livestock’s digestion, leading to health issues if not monitored properly. Many animals enjoy feeding off of the crop residue left behind after a crop harvest, but this also needs to be monitored as it is not recommended for growing calves and lactating or pregnant females. The nutritional value is low, therefore it could affect their growth and the health of females significantly.
Sweet corn and dent corn
Sweet corn is suitable for livestock, however, if not used promptly, it can become contaminated quickly due to its high sugar content. Sweet corn is moist in comparison to grazing corn, which can serve as a helpful binding agent when mixing food together in a mixer. This type of corn should be shared with livestock in moderation as large volumes of high-sugar feed can lead to digestive problems. This is not ideal for livestock as it can affect their stomachs and cause them to bloat. When their digestive system is not in good condition, their immune systems drop and can become vulnerable to diseases.
Dent corn is known to be a traditional animal feed. It is identified as a dry, cornmeal kernel, slim in look and yellow in colour. This type of corn is a cost-effective feed option for farmers looking to cut costs and reduce waste because it is disease-resistant. Because of its dryness in texture, it’s easy to grow and it requires minimal water, making it an ideal feed option for farmers during the winter months.
Pumpkins, squash and other root crops
It’s recommended that you grow pumpkin and squash to feed your animals during the winter months. These sweet crops are filled with good fats, high-fibre and protein for your animals. When fed with other dry ingredients, animals are kept full for longer and their bodies can withstand dry, cold conditions. It is necessary that you remove the seeds and the skin before mixing it into your mixer, helping them to digest the content easier. You can also store these crops in a cool environment for later consumption.
Many root crops contain plenty of water, therefore they need to be mixed with dry materials before fed to your animals. Root crops such as potatoes and carrots are particularly popular for animals, however, they take some time to get used to as they contain laxatives that may have a negative effect on certain age groups of animals. If possible, try and introduce these elements over a certain period of time to ensure your animals slowly get used to them without shocking their digestive systems.
In addition to standard hay that your animals find on their pasture, try and grow your own crops to ensure your animals are consuming the nutrients they need. Depending on the size of your herd, you should invest in a feed mixer to help mix the correct ratio of food for your animals. There are plenty of options available, for example, a vertical feed mixer or Radium’s Horizontal Feed Mixer design. Your choice depends on your needs, but it’s an important piece of farm equipment if you’re working with livestock.
If you’re farming with animals, you’re likely to be dealing with large volumes of animal waste. And considering how often animals graze, it’s mandatory to have an effective manure management plan in place to distribute this waste in areas where it’s needed most. You might think it’s easier to dump it elsewhere, but with the right knowledge, you could use it as valuable nutrients for your crops and soil.
If you leave the manure untouched, it can pollute your environment and have a negative impact on your animals, the community and your workers’ health. Farmers are encouraged to collect any manure lying around, load it onto their fertiliser spreader and strategically spread the material onto your farmlands. Depending on the size of your farm and the amount of fertiliser needed to be distributed, you will need to have a precision tool in place to assist you in accurately spreading your manure on targeted areas.
The main manure management approaches used are known as on-pasture management, composting and stockpiling for storage or removal purposes. Each technique has its own benefits, therefore it is recommended that farmers choose a variety of techniques to help yield positive results.
Here are three ways to utilise your livestock’s manure effectively:
This is commonly used for organic farming as the raw manure does not get tested. In fact, it’s a very simple, natural process as the waste material is collected and distributed without adding any further chemicals or minerals to remove any weeds or pests to improve a particular issue. Bear in mind that large amounts of waste in one area will not benefit the soil or plants grown below, so make sure that the manure you collect is evenly spread across an area if you want to see positive results.
This low-cost approach does not require heavy farm implements or materials to manoeuvre aside from a fertiliser spreader to assist you in the moving process. On-pasture manure management is ideal when you make use of rotational grazing with your livestock, as it gives your soil an opportunity to absorb the necessary vitamins and minerals, namely phosphates, nitrogen and potassium. If manure is monitored and you choose to use your animal’s waste as a tool to help restore your pasture, you will help the land to return to its original state before grazing took place. Make sure it’s evenly spread for the best results.
This approach requires you to treat existing animal manure by actively adding in any minerals or nutrients that are missing in raw animal manure. The purpose of this approach is to balance out the manure in such a way that the compost applied to a specific area can easily break down the organic matter available without burning or killing any important soil or plant nutrients which are needed for your pasture’s health.
It is also recommended that you use compost for a particular reason. For example, if you have experienced a lack of minerals in your soil or you’re experiencing an influx of weeds. This will then help to reduce those concerns while treating the area. Before you begin placing your compost down, it’s important to till your area with the correct farm tillage equipment to prepare your soil. It’s also important to note that composting works best with fresh manure, so try and monitor your animals and when you see a slight buildup of manure, be sure to remove it immediately and proceed with your composting procedure.
Stockpiling can be used for your own storage purposes, for instance, to use when needed, or it can be collected to sell to other farms in the area. This process is popular for farmers which only use fertiliser over the summer months and halt farming operations over the winter. However, if you choose to store your animal waste, keep it in a dry area where it cannot become contaminated. Have a clear plan on when you choose to use your stored manure as it can lose effectiveness over long periods of time.
Established farmers will understand the importance of utilising the correct agricultural machinery to increase the outcome of a project. And this is particularly important when it comes to vegetable farming. In order to experience sustainable crop yields with impressive results, you need to ensure that your soil is healthy, your seeds are planted accurately and there are zero weeds or pests threatening your harvest.
If you want to move into vegetable farming to sustain your own health needs or to sell your produce to local markets, you need to invest in the correct equipment and farming implements to boost productivity and guarantee a selection of fresh produce at the end of your harvest season. While it may seem like you’re expected to buy a range of new equipment, covering the basics will help you more than you know.
Speak to a reputable dealer such as Radium to assist you in purchasing high-quality farming equipment that lasts. Here is a list of the equipment you need to ensure your croplands are off to a good start.
A tractor to move around on the farm
If you’ve been farming for years, you are likely to have a tractor. But if you are new to farming and want to purchase the necessities, you will need to invest in a tractor. This piece of versatile equipment will be able to assist you in nearly every farming procedure as it just requires you to attach the right implement to your tractor when you need it. Modern-day tractors are compact and engineered to offer you the comfortability and production assistance you need. Many of them can fit through tight spaces and speed up your farming activity drastically, especially on a large-scale farm with plenty to do. When you search for the ideal vehicle, factor in your farming needs. You will also need to budget for a reliable and trustworthy brand that can operate for years to come. You might think that settling for a used model is the best option, but always remember increased maintenance will lead to downtime and a drop in productivity.
A fertiliser spreader to evenly distribute your compost
This must-have attachment is handy when looking to quickly manoeuvre through your croplands and spread your fertiliser evenly. As any farmer would know, the fertility of your soil is key when looking to deliver high-quality results from your harvest. If you spread your manure evenly, and it’s rich in the necessary vitamins and nutrients your soil needs to thrive, you will be able to guarantee a stronger yield.
Soil ripping equipment to clear the area from rocks
When you prepare fresh land for crop planting, you will certainly come across uneven grounds. Either you’re trying to plant on a slope or the land is filled with rocks that will affect your soil’s fertility. You will need to make use of soil ripping equipment to get rid of any rocks and stones that could affect your land, and till the soil thereafter. These two important processes will assist you in disrupting your land for the better, allowing you to successfully test and treat your soil accordingly before you proceed to plant.
Rotary cutter equipment for weeds
Getting rid of weeds is a time-consuming, yet necessary task. Regardless of how large your croplands are, it’s impractical to think that you can pull out your weeds by hand without the help of a rotary cutter to help speed up the process. Weeds can be challenging, especially if you do not catch them in time. Weeds can quickly spread and lead to an infestation which might affect the growth of your crops. This means that you will need to dispose of your plants and crops and wait for the next harvest season. As you can see, this is a costly experience, so be sure to invest in a specialised tool to remove weeds when they appear.
Seed planters to lay your seeds
When you start out, you can easily plant your seeds by hand to test the soil and see a harvest season out before you decide to step things up a notch and plant an entire area. However, when you decide to farm your vegetables across a wide area, a seed planter or spreading machinery that can do the job for you. This is an accurate approach to planting your seeds evenly and in bulk. How it works is that you move around in rows, allowing you to maintain a consistent planting depth for successful results.
As you can see, there is a handful of important farm equipment needed to assist you with your vegetable farming venture. To find out more about your specific needs, contact Radium about our offerings.
With livestock farming, it’s important to note the lifestyle effects that stressful animal handling can have on your cattle and their physical wellbeing. While it might not seem that way, animals, much like humans, experience the same type of emotional stress when they’re uncomfortable in certain situations.
When animals feel threatened or unsafe in a particular environment, they will start to develop health issues which is visible in their physical conditions. Not only is this detrimental to their health, but also to your business growth as stressful livestock handling can result in sick animals and poor meat conditions.
Understanding why low-stress handling is important
Livestock which is treated poorly will start to show physical signs in their growth and reproduction potential. These two factors will stunt your business’ growth, as you will not be able to deliver high-quality meat from your production. When you handle animals in large groups, it’s important to speak to professionals and learn more about the animals you have. This will help you to adjust your handling approach.
If they feel that you’re invading their personal space, their fight or flight mode will start to kick in. Usually, they will start to become stressed out and run away from the rest of the herd, but if you have enough experience in dealing with these moments, you will be able to plan accordingly for a successful handling. The right way would be to move animals in such a way that they feel comfortable and relaxed before, during and after the handling. If you or your cattle handlers are inexperienced and handle your herd incorrectly, it could put you in danger and increase your chances of an unwanted injury.
Here are a few tips to consider when handling your livestock.
Take as much time as you need: Be it for rotational grazing purposes, leading them to a new feed or to restore your pasture, you need to take time and allow them to settle down before moving them. When there is a lot of movement around them, they start to sense that something is strange, which will already cause them to feel stressed out or anxious. In order to succeed with this entire process, you need to be able to move around their pen in a calm manner, without agitating them.
Don’t force cattle into small areas: Because livestock will already start to feel stressed out and agitated from the minute you create noise or movement around them, the last thing you need to do is overcrowd the area you’re moving them to or move them into a tight area where you put cows and calves together. Wherever you move them, they should still be able to move around freely without feeling restricted.
Eliminate loud noises around cattle: As briefly mentioned, livestock can be sensitive to loud noises or strange movements they’re unfamiliar with. Try to keep your actions and farm equipment as quiet as possible. For example, avoid starting up machinery or allowing several handlers to walk around them at once. Raising your voice can make cows feel pressured, therefore, be sure to move slowly around them.
Keep livestock together: When you handle your livestock, try to work with groups of animals at a time. But stay away from overcrowding spaces. Do not isolate your animals and face them one-on-one as this will cause them to feel stressed out and scared. Another tip when keeping animals together is to always transport animals in a group. However, make sure to stock your trailer with less than it accommodates.
As you can see, low-stress handling is essential for business success. If your animals are healthy and well cared for, you will be able to increase sales and boost your bottom line. Effective handling will come in handy for a variety of reasons. For example, when moving your cattle to a new pasture or adapting them to your new horizontal feed mixer design. If you want to introduce sustainable feeding methods, which will also add to your cattle’s health in its entirety, look at buying a feed mixer from Radium’s range of Matrix Feed Mixers. This way, you will be able to mix your own feed and keep your animals healthy. All it takes is some extra effort and time to understand your livestock’s behaviour, their needs and how to improve their performance. With the right farming equipment and knowledge, you will have a profitable herd.
Keeping your farm roads in tip-top shape requires plenty of maintenance.
Depending on where you live and how much rain your roads experience, you will need to service your roads regularly before the trapped water leads to gravel depletion, erosion and more.
If you take the time to fix your roads when potholes arise, you won’t need to bash down large sections at a time to make your road safe and secure again. The longer you leave it, the more expensive it will be to cover a large area, and it will also put your road out of action for quite some time before they bed in again.
Any type of road damage can be restored if you have access to the correct agriculture machinery.
Alongside your tractor, you can expect to use soil ripping equipment and road graders, particularly a universal grader.
Rock removal farming equipment is also useful for gravel road projects.
What is the cause of potholes?
In short, potholes occur on farm roads due to the poor drainage and compact finish on the gravel. Once you start to experience plenty of potholes on your gravel roads, the quick fix of re-filling the holes can only work a few times until you need to replace the entire surface. The bigger the potholes, the more dangerous it is for farm workers travelling with heavy machinery and regular vehicles passing through.
In order to save time and money on materials, it is advised that you monitor your roads regularly to avoid having to redo the entire surface at once. It is also helpful to understand the different types of gravel road damage, how to approach each project and which type of farm implements are needed for the job.
Here are a few tips to fixing pothole-ridden roads.
Soil removal: When you design, lay down or maintain your gravel road, you need to remove as much soil as possible, as soil fertility can lead to weeds going beneath your road structure. Of course, the more these weed roots grow, the more they will slowly start to degrade the road’s surface by pushing up and making bumps in the road. Soil also retains water, which needs to be drained through a draining system.
Proper drainage systems: If you don’t have a plan for water drainage, the road will start to pool water which can lead to massive potholes. If you include drainage into your design, general maintenance will be prolonged by this feature as pressure and rainy conditions will not lead to regular restoration.
Rock removal: This type of heavy machinery is used to maintain roads and remove any unnecessary rocks or materials from the area you need to grade. Before you’re able to grade your roads, you will need to remove rocks to smoothen the surface and assist with the development process. If rocks are not removed, they can jump up and damage your equipment or hurt the operator while driving.
Levelling and compact: By adding drainage to your road, it simply means that you will need to level your road with slanted sides to allow for water to run off of the road itself without pooling the water. This is the next level in the pothole maintenance process. Once you’ve removed your rocks, you will be able to level out the road with a grader. A grader will help to compact the surface and ensure the gravel is laid tightly.
Bedding in: The final stage of restoring your gravel is allowing the newly serviced road to set. It will take a few months before the road is ready to be driven on. Which isn’t ideal. This is exactly why farm owners are advised to monitor the wear and tear on their roads, and fix them once they start to see issues.
Any maintenance process that requires heavy machinery and equipment is costly. If you’re going to take the time to restore your gravel roads, be sure to plan properly and avoid accessing the road thereafter. Heavy pressure and aggressive driving behaviour will have a negative impact on your newly serviced road. So, make use of the correct equipment and seek professional help to detect future complications.
Depending on the location of your farm and the climate conditions you experience, you’re bound to experience different soil properties that may or may not make your planting experience trouble-free. While you might be struggling with poor soil fertility, penetration or erosion, there are plenty of soil management strategies to implement that can improve your soil structure in order for your plants to grow better.
There are many tried and tested techniques that can help to revive your soil, however, organic methods have proven to deliver amazing health benefits for the soil as well as the produce. Organic farming is not rocket science, so with the right farm implements, you will be able to improve your soil, sustainably.
Soil is home to a number of living organisms. And despite what most farmers think, soil is not always damaged by pests, diseases or a lack of nutrients. It’s damaged by physical condition and how you treat it. Be it bacteria, fungi, insects or more, these are the different organisms that you need in your soil in order for your plants to grow and deliver successful yields. While you need to apply the correct methods when watering your plants, over watering can also lead to the soil becoming compact and dead.
Tips for reviving your soil the organic way
Before you consider the different ways to revive your soil, you need to have a clear understanding of what organic farming is and how to implement it on your small farm. In short, organic farming is referred to as an agricultural practice that supports the environment. These activities reduce human, pest and plant hazards by eliminating chemical products and certain farming practices in your approach. Look at using green fertiliser options and trying new ways to improve the health of your crops with minimal disruption.
Here are a few ideas to consider.
Practice a no-tillage farming approach
Many commercial farmers are against tillage as a farming practice, while small farmers tend to make use of a no-till farming approach, which simply includes minimal tillage with their farm tillage equipment. Most organic farmers do not make use of this practice at all, however, you will need to base your decision on your soil’s health and the size of your crop. If you till your land in moderation, you will be able to reduce soil erosion and you’ll be able to strengthen your crops. In order to reduce the amount of disruption you do on your farm, you can make use of smaller farming implements such as a hand rake to create minimal disturbances on the soil. This can then be followed up with cover crops for further benefits.
Add mulch to your crops
Also known as cover crops, this technique allows you to retain as much moisture as possible in your soil so that it isn’t exposed to wind and sun that leads to soil erosion. If you live in an area where there are heavy rains, you can rest assured knowing that heavy rains will still not affect your crops when covered.
Covering your crops with organic-friendly mulch bags will add organic matter to your soil and reduce the chances of pests getting into your planting areas and destroying your plants. Another tip with this is to plant as much into your soil of combination crops to ensure the majority of your soil is covered.
Keep your feet and wheels off of the soil
Once you revive your soil, you will need to pay careful attention to the amount of time you spend on the soil itself. Heavy machinery and pressure from farm workers’ feet will damage and crush the soil structure. If possible, walk or drive on the same areas to avoid damaging the soil on a large scale.
Don’t forget about pest control
When your soil becomes healthy and your crops start to flourish, you will see an increase in pests. If not controlled, you will also start to see an increase in weeds, which can become an infestation if not cleared. Monitor your crops daily and invest in chemical-free products to clear the problem you have. Of course, some plants need more attention than others, so be sure purchase the correct product for your needs.
Organic farming has many perks, both for the soil as well as the quality of the produce. If you make use of the correct techniques, you will be contributing to the environment at large. Sustainability contributes to a better future. And if you want to improve the quality of life, take advantage of organic farming.
When harvest season comes to an end and the colder days start to set in, it does not mean that your entire farm’s production should go into hibernation mode. You might not be planting for a harvest but you certainly need to maintain your harvesting equipment and store it in a safe place during your off months.
The reason why you need to clean and store your equipment is to prevent it from rust, corrosion, liquid freezing and many other factors that may affect its future performance. Here are a few of the most important tips to consider when maintaining your equipment before you store it:
Do a thorough service check on your tractor
One of the first service checks you need to do on your tractor is to change the oil to a lubricant that is lighter and to fill up the tank. The reason for this is because your tractor is likely to be sitting without action for months, so this is done to avoid engine corrosion during storage. Make sure that you clean or replace air filters, fuel filters, and lubricate bearings and joints at the same time. If you’re making use of antifreeze in your engine, be sure to look at the expiry date of yours as these products have a lifespan. As for your tyres, deflate them when stored, and try to keep the entire vehicle out of direct sunlight.
Clean your farming equipment
Next up, clean your farming tools such as your tillage equipment, spreaders and rotary cutters. To clean these units, you will need to make use of a compressed air or pressure washer to get rid of any hay, soil or dirt build-up left on the equipment. Because you won’t be making use of this equipment for quite some time, you will need to ensure that each unit is properly cleaned and dried to avoid rusting. Note that build-up can attract rodents which will eventually lead to the electrical wires being eaten.
Clean tools will ensure consistent performance throughout the new harvesting season. As you know, agriculture implements are extremely costly. Be it feed mixers for livestock farming or farming equipment for harvesting, it is important to look after each piece of equipment, especially if you want to receive the return on investment you want when you advertise your farming equipment that is available for sale.
Again, if you wish to sell older units and sell your farming equipment, you will need to take some pride in fixing any damages that could affect your asking price. The same goes for general equipment maintenance and simply caring for your equipment. Repaint any areas which are chipped to avoid future corrosion. Make a note of any repairs that you cannot physically do yourself, and send your equipment to be fixed during this time. When your equipment is stored post-harvest, you can afford to send your units for maintenance checks because this off season will not affect your production.
Remove batteries once equipment is stored
It is advised that in areas that experience snow, you should remove batteries from units to avoid batteries from deteriorating or leaking into the overall unit. Often times, extreme weather conditions can also cause batteries to freeze. If a battery does leak and is left unnoticed, the chemicals released can cause corrosion. So, during the winter months, it is extremely important to remove your batteries and store them somewhere where you can constantly monitor them, perform periodic charging and clean connections.
Equipment should always be stored away from any conditions that could affect each unit’s performance. If your storage area is not completely sheltered, invest in some additional cloth covers for further protection on each piece of equipment. The way you maintain and look after your equipment will determine the resale value whenever you choose to sell your units and upgrade to more advanced options.
Winter brings much-needed rain and soil benefits for farmers, but it also brings an added risk of slippery roads with poor visibility and sickly animals which struggle to survive. With such uncertain weather conditions, it’s important for farmers to prepare for safety leading up to the colder months. It’s important that you identify your business risks and put together an emergency plan for any winter-related event.
Here are a few tips on how you can prepare for winter on your farm:
Identify and fix any farm road concerns
Gravel is the strongest type of material for roads because it’s safer to operate on and is more durable in the long-term. It’s aesthetically pleasing on farmlands, however, this material does require regular maintenance checks, especially before and after winter. While a dirt road might sound like the easiest shortcut or temporary choice for winter circumstances, dirt roads can prove to be a nightmare when it comes to winter on the farm. Heavy rains can lead to dirt roads disappearing and becoming extremely muddy and dangerous. So, whether you’re transporting your staff, produce, livestock or allowing your customers to make their way to your farm, gravel is a reliable option in uncertain weather conditions.
On your roads, every pothole or rut should be maintained with road graders before the heavy rain sets in to avoid the freeze and thaw cycle. Make use of your tractor, road grader and a ploughing implement to scrape off any snow or mud that could affect anyone’s ability to visit the farm safely. Make sure this movement is done from side to side and not from the middle, as this could damage the road’s surface.
Prepare your barn and monitor your livestock
If livestock form part of your production plan, prepare your barn for them to move into over the colder months. It’s critical that your animals are safe, warm and sheltered when the wet weather starts to creep in, as any animal that is struggling with a poor immune system can quickly become vulnerable to fatal diseases and viruses. As the barn may be their location for quite some time, make an effort to ensure that there is enough space for each animal to lie down and feel comfortable to avoid animals from becoming stressed. Keep feed away from wet areas to avoid contamination, and monitor each animal daily.
Store and maintain your agriculture equipment
When winter comes around, the harvest season comes to an end and it’s time for you to store your equipment for the duration of winter. As you can imagine, equipment that is not maintained and is stored for long periods of time without operation can become faulty the minute you decide to start it up. To winter-proof your tractor, look at its hydraulic, fuel and electrical systems. Replace the current engine lube with something lighter, and restore the antifreeze in the engine. You might think it’s unnecessary to fill up your tank when your tractor is simply going to be out-of-action for a while, but if you want to prevent fuel gelling from taking place, you will need to keep a full tank of fuel. As for your tillage equipment, spreading equipment, grader and other road maintenance equipment, make sure that you pressure wash each unit to avoid rust.
The time for harvest has unfortunately come to an end, but farming activity shouldn’t have to. The colder months are the perfect time to prepare your soil for the next harvest. The combination of rain and nutrient-rich fertilisers will help to give your soil the minerals it needs to develop a strong foundation for your next harvest. This process will help to enrich your soil and prepare it for a successful production.
Having a secure winter strategy in place will help to ensure that everything runs smoothly, and that you’re never faced with a challenging situation. While it may feel miserable and unproductive, winter is crucial to farmers when preparing for a new and fresh season.