Agricultural, construction, and land management professionals understand the power and utility a tractor brings to the job. They also know that efficient and safe tractor use goes hand-in-hand with a productive growing operation.
Whether you’re a grower with fields to tend, or a property manager with oversized landscaping to take care of, you and your workers should understand what they can do to ensure continued safety around tractors and a few tips for getting the most out of these powerful machines. At Everglades Equipment Group, we know how important proper tractor operation is for hitting your end-of-season goals. That’s why we’ve put together this short guide with some tips for your benefit. Read on for more information or head into one of our locations throughout Central and Southern Florida.
Big pieces of equipment weigh a lot and won’t be stopped easily, but you’ll almost always run out of traction before running out of power. Over-ballasting is a common practice to get extra traction, but operating at these weights won’t necessarily mean getting more work done. Going over the maximum working weight of your tractor exerts stress on the drive train, which goes on to cause decreased engine reliability and loss of rollover protection. Most tractor operation won’t approach these weight limits. Usually, power output and weight stay well below the threshold. but that’s where weight distribution can actually improve performance or reduce operating costs. Your tractor owner’s manual or your local dealer like Everglades Equipment Group can help to figure out the total ballasted weight for your tractor.
Gear Up, Throttle Down (GUTD)
A tractor engine achieves the best ratio of work to fuel used when operating under maximum or near maximum load. Most tractors won’t need to maximize horsepower, and operators can save fuel by shifting to a higher gear and slowing engine RPMs while maintaining your desired speed in the field.
When performing work that only needs 70% or less of your tractor’s power, then you can consider GUTD. Check your owner’s manual for specifics, and if you aren’t experience in these kinds mechanical operations, it might be better left to the professionals.
There’s an easy and quick test to get to the best settings. Start by running your tractor at the desired speed and throttle setting, then quickly open the throttle. An engine that readily speeds up means the settings are suitable. An unresponsive engine indicates that you should shift down a gear or up the engine speed. Repeat the check to move closer to an optimum balance. Operating in GUTD will reduce tractor PTO speed or hydraulic reaction time, so make sure you’ve still got enough power for your implements!
Maintenance for Performance
Tractor maintenance deserves its own full write up, but there are some special areas to pay attention to when it comes to operating a tractor safely and effectively. Tractor engines rely on air filtration to run optimally, and fields and farms are filled with lots of extra particulates that cause serious damage if they get past the filter or else clog it up. A dirt restriction gauge can help by telling operators when it’s time to change out the filter, making this maintenance step even easier.
The cooling system is another great place to pay attention to for performance maintenance. Your friends at Everglades Equipment Group or the original manufacturer sell affordable testing kits that make it easy to optimize engine coolant. Remember that antifreeze for diesel (and in reality, most heavy equipment engines) is different than the stuff you’d use on your car or truck. Fuel suppliers tend to change over to a different fuel density when the season changes, but you still should make sure you’re running the right fuel for your tractor given the weather. Winter fuel during used during spring or summer fuel during autumn can bring down engine performance severely. If you aren’t sure whether or not the fuel you’re using is right, ask your supplier to confirm the fuel density for you.
Most people who’ve worked around heavy equipment of any kind has a story about unsafe operation that led to serious injury. It’s easy to think these are accidents that happen to other people and not us, but only by taking the proper safety precautions can you ever hope to avoid the most tragic of farming fates.
Many operators like to think the correct safety precautions are for the inexperienced only, or that mishaps only happen to the criminally lazy or incompetent. This certainly isn’t the case, and you should always follow all required safety precautions and use the safety features available to you, like keeping standard safety guards intact. Only use your tractor for serious applications. Don’t allow extra riders, as there is never enough room for safe operation with two people in the cab.
Wearing the right clothing and safety gear can be important too. Close-fitting clothes without fraying are less likely to get caught in any moving parts, and you’ll want solid footwear to maintain good balance. Hearing protection like earmuffs or earplugs is great for that noisy engine, and always be ready to take a break should you need one — equipment operators of all kinds lose a lot of their ability to use machinery when fatigue, hunger, and thirst set in. .
If you take your tractor onto the road, always make sure your “slow moving vehicle” sign is displayed and that any excess equipment is marked for other motorists to see. This is especially important both early in the morning and as the day winds down. We hope some of these tractor operation tips can help you get more performance and safer use out of your equipment. If you still have questions, or you’re just interested in checking out our stock of new and used tractors, head into an Everglades Equipment Group location near you. Let our team of professionals answer your questions and help you find what you’re looking for today. We proudly serve Central and Southern Florida!