In today’s farming operations, efficient machinery is crucial

Collette Schultz

farm toolsWhether it’s a flat tire or a slow computer, equipment that isn’t up to speed will slow you down and cost you money. As you prepare for the spring season, take the time to make sure your equipment is well maintained and ready to go – and make sure you are ready to take full advantage of its capabilities.

Make sure your equipment is in good condition
It bears repeating that one of the first things you should do is to make sure your equipment is up to date on required maintenance so it is operating as efficiently as it can. Consider taking these steps:
● Make sure your tires are properly inflated. Using tires with low or high PSI can shorten the tires’ lifespan or cause delays or an accident.
● Wash off accumulated dirt, chemicals and grime. While no one expects farming equipment to gleam, regularly washing your equipment will help it work better and last longer, increasing the return on your investment.
● Lubricate moving parts. Follow manufacturer instructions for lubricating any moving parts on your machinery and be sure to use the right kind of lubricant. Regular lubrication helps prevents costly damage.
● Test your sprayers so they are ready to go when they’re needed. To optimize yield, pest management and reduce input expense, calibrate nozzles and replace any that are too worn to be accurate.
● Tune your engines. If you haven’t checked out your power units lately, take a look for routine maintenance needs. As needed, replace filters, oil, spark plugs, and valves.

Tip: download equipment manuals to your smartphone or tablet; refer to them easily while doing maintenance. Use your smartphone’s speech to text feature to record notes quickly for referencing later.

Learn how to use your equipment more efficiently
Machines are only as efficient as their operators. Some farmers miss opportunities to save time and money because they aren’t taking full advantage of their equipment. Don’t let complicated settings scare you away. Consider these tips for using your equipment more efficiently:
● Make sure you know the best seed spacing for your crops. Consult your seed rep or agronomist to make sure you’re using the right settings for your seeds to maximize the number of plants for your acreage without overpopulating, i.e. overspending.
● Efficiently use pesticide and fertilizers. Make sure you are using your machine’s settings to apply pesticides and fertilizers at the right doses. Review prior years and consult an expert to determine the best timing and amounts for each pesticide or fertilizer throughout the growing season.
● Signing up for a training class. With technology changing rapidly, it can be hard to keep track of it all. Attending a training can help you use your equipment more efficiently to reduce your cost of production. Or ask the rep at your equipment dealer. You can also find training online.

Don’t forget your digital equipment
Love them or hate them, computers are a vital part of running a modern agriculture business. Make sure your software and devices are up to speed and are keeping your data secure.
● Update software. Make sure your digital equipment has been updated recently to the latest software. Smartphones, tablets, laptops, and desktop computers all need regular updates for performance and security issues. Some devices have settings for automatic software updates you can turn on so you don’t have to think about it again.
● Clean up your devices. No one likes a slow computer. Make sure your computer isn’t slowing you down by cleaning out old programs and files, and running disc cleanup and defrag utilities. Even if you just use your computer for email, you should clean it regularly. Not sure how to clean it? Talk to the folks at the local computer store and benefit from their expertise.
● Consider upgrading your IT system. Your farm data is critical to operating as profitably as possible. Keeping your data in one safe and secure location helps you efficiently find and use information about your business when you, a manager or a stakeholder needs it. Consider partnering with a SaaS company like AgCompass to provide flexible, secure access to your data and make it easier to put your data to work for you. Learn how AgCompass can simplify the data side of your business.