7 Steps to Ensure Your Machinery Is Ready for Winter

FBN Network

Nov 29, 2023

As harvest draws to an end for many farms across the country, it’s time for your machinery to get a much-deserved break. Spring will come quickly, and you’ll be better prepared to hit the field if you take the time to care for and store your equipment now. 

Farm production expenses are projected to be up 28% in 2023. Properly winterizing your equipment will help improve performance in the spring and maintain the resale value.

As you’re working to prep your machinery for winter storage, here are a few steps to remember. Step 4 may come as a particularly helpful reminder for those using data to drive results.

1. Follow the Operator’s Manual Recommendations

Remember that general winterizing recommendations — including those outlined in this post — should never replace the recommendations found in your equipment operator’s manual. While users are asked to read the manual before operating the machinery, it should be kept handy for future reference. After all, the equipment operator’s manual not only includes critical information on how to operate the machinery and safety topics, but it also offers valuable insight into machinery maintenance.

Store your manuals in an accessible location for easy reference when needed. If you happen to lose your operator's manual, check your manufacturer's website to purchase a download or printed copy of a replacement.

2. Check Fluids

Before putting away tractors and combines, be sure to change the oil and replace air filters. Clean engine oil will reduce internal engine corrosion during storage. You should also top off the fuel and hydraulic oil tanks to reduce water accumulation and tank corrosion, according to Crop Watch. 

Antifreeze loses its effectiveness over time, so be sure to check antifreeze for the correct freezing temperature. Use an antifreeze tester if needed.

3. Clean Out Combines, Planters, Drills, and Air Seeders

Removing dirt, dust, and grime is essential for equipment longevity. As you’re cleaning out planters, drills, and air seeders, refer to your operator’s manual for instructions on removing seed plates and other components. If not done properly, Crop Watch warns, pressure could build up around seals, brushes, and seed plates, causing warping and bending.

High-pressure washers are great for tough-to-clean surfaces but don’t make direct contact with any seals or they could be damaged. An air hose may be more appropriate. 

When the weather drops and machinery is left unattended, critters may create nests in the equipment. To help prevent mice and other pests from harboring in your equipment over winter, clean all grain and plant material left in your grain tanks and augers. Rodent repellent can also defend machinery against pests. 

Pro Tip: Try using compressed air after washing to help dry surfaces, then run your machinery for 10 minutes or longer to help dry off excess water from hard to reach spots, suggests Utah State University Extension.

4. Save Data and Service Yield Monitors

Before you stop thinking about your yield monitors and precision data this season, make sure you save your data and upload it to FBN®. Verify it is saving correctly and back it up to your location for storage. 

Next, check any mechanical components of your yield monitors for necessary maintenance, such as the moisture and yield sensors, the display, or the receiver.

And finally, post-calibrate yield monitors if needed. You can learn more about calibrating your yield monitors and properly saving data here. If you have questions, check out our FAQs here

Building good practices around calibrating yield monitors and properly saving data will be key to getting the most out of your precision equipment.

5. Make Necessary Repairs

As farm equipment prices continue to increase, farmers can combat inflationary pressures by proactively maintaining farming tools and machinery to ensure their quality is preserved.

Repair damaged or malfunctioning equipment now to prevent delays in the spring, and ensure broken equipment doesn’t rust or further deteriorate through the winter months. Repainting worn surfaces can help to prevent corrosion.

6. Store Equipment Properly

When possible, store your equipment inside a building to improve its performance and resale value. Whether it’s a barn, shed, or garage, it’s a good idea to take the time to ensure the space is free of any holes where the elements or pests could get in.

If you do not have a building where you can store your machinery or cannot rent a machine shed for the winter, cover any equipment that must stay outdoors. Select durable, weather-resistant covers.

Regardless of whether the machinery is stored indoors or kept outside, keep it off the ground so that it is less likely to come in contact with moisture. This can be achieved by putting it on pallets.

7. Perform Periodic Checks Throughout the Season

No matter how carefully machinery has been prepared for its winter hibernation, issues may still arise throughout the season. It’s critical, therefore, to regularly check on all stored machinery. 

Throughout the winter, check that all locks on windows and doors have not been tampered with by potential thieves; scan the area for droppings, nests, and tiny holes in wooden beams that provide evidence that rodents, birds, bugs, and other pests have been near the equipment; inspect the floor and ceiling, if applicable, for any signs of moisture; and examine the equipment for any signs of damage.

If one of these regular checks indicates an issue, take care of it immediately so it does not worsen. Even if these checks do not show any indication of a potential problem, consider them a good opportunity to take any precautionary measures, such as setting out fresh bait, you may consider necessary.

What to Do If You Need New Farm Equipment

Whether you need new farm equipment to make working through the winter possible or you need to invest in new machinery come spring, FBN Finance has you covered. From plows to tractors, farm equipment is expensive, and a farm equipment loan can help you purchase new or used machinery without having to pay for it upfront.

If you need an equipment loan to optimize your ag operation, FBN Finance offers an easy and secure online application process with no application fee. Fill out this form to get started with your equipment loan.

Related Resources

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FBN Network

Nov 29, 2023

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