Spring maintenance roundup tips

Iowa State University Extension and Outreach
Farm Forum

In addition to conducting regular spring maintenance on your planter, it’s important to adjust the settings and perform routine maintenance on other machines that will make their way to the field in the coming weeks. As you are prepping equipment for spring field work, past news and blog posts can be helpful tools to ensure your equipment is ready to give you an efficient and effective planting season.

For a smooth planting season, it’s important to adjust and maintain all your spring equipment prior to heading to the field.

Determining proper ballasting and tire pressure for the tractor you are using can maximize traction in the field as well as the life of your tires while reducing compaction and fuel consumption. Refer to this article from April 2020, found at https://bit.ly/2PnE59u, for instructions, tables and fact sheets to help you do this. Most operators don’t adjust tire pressures between different spring operations using the same tractor, or between field and road transport conditions. It’s critical to calculate the pressure needed in every scenario the equipment will be in and select the pressure for the highest axel load application to adjust to. This ensures adequate inflation pressure across the entire season for any activity a piece of equipment might do.

If you perform spring tillage, ensuring a uniform seedbed at planting starts with adjusting and leveling the tillage tools you plan to use. While this step-by-step checklist, found at https://bit.ly/3scq8JU, focuses on field cultivators, the concepts also apply to other spring tillage tools. Review these steps and make adjustments to your implement to ensure a uniform seedbed. Proper leveling and setup of tillage equipment helps ensure a level and consistent seedbed. This will help achieve maximum planter ride quality, which minimizes bouncing of the row units, to aid in better planter performance.

If you plant to apply fertilizer this spring, it’s important to give similar attention to spreaders and fertilizer management. Follow these guidelines, found at https://bit.ly/3cZmGff, for calibrating machinery and monitoring product quality throughout the year to achieve a high-quality application. In this video from October, found at https://bit.ly/319wYUL, Field Agronomist Meaghan Anderson and Program Specialist Ryan Bergman provide some tips on using a spinner spreader to apply fertilizer and how to set up your machine for an optimal application.

Additionally, you can take time to inspect your sprayer and perform any maintenance early before days become longer and busier. Review these maintenance tips, found at https://bit.ly/2QpG7WW, checking the nozzles, plumbing and general condition of the machine to prepare for a smooth season. Proper calibration of application equipment is critical to achieving uniform distribution of fertilizer over the entire operating width. Poor distribution or improper calibrations can cause variability in fertilizer application and ultimately variability in crop performance due to nutrient availability.