When was the last time one of your machines broke down? Was it last year, last week, or even just yesterday?  

We get it, keeping your machines completely issue-free can be hard. That is why we strive to provide you with prompt, top-notch service for your equipment. Still, there are small steps that each operator can take to keep their machines in the best shape. We provide a few of those tips here to prepare you for the next season. 

Fall Issues 

One obstacle that cannot be controlled is the weather and when operators have tight windows to get into the field, that can become a challenge. However, there is another factor to look out for when the weather isn’t quite right. Ryan Palmer, a Location Manager at Heartland AG Systems says “Many times, operators are applicating in late fall, a time when they may run into wet, slimy weather. The fertilizer can become wet and sticky, which leads to build-up on the distributors, fins, and deflectors.” This can then result in plugging or pattern loss and streaks in the field where no fertilizer is applied.  

In some states, fluctuating temperatures can cause issues with how your machines operate. It affects your machine’s ability to keep spraying through less-than-ideal temperatures and when we experience freezing temperatures, the hard, frozen ground can be detrimental to equipment. This can be a problem, especially when the machine is needed out in the field.  

Another common fall issue for many operators is belts or chains freezing and seizing up. These belts and chains help run the fertilizer out to the booms or spinners and can cause major issues when not working properly. This could be caused by several obstacles like a stuck or bad PWM cartridge, a rusted or seized bearing, or a controller issue. This problem, and many more like it, can occur when fertilizer dust gets into any sort of bearing. We all know that when the fall season is done, spring is on the horizon, and with it comes its own set of challenges to overcome. 

Spring Issues 

An issue that tends to occur in the spring is unexpected breakdowns. Unfortunately, problems can arise, even when the machine is just sitting through the winter. Improper winterization can result in broken fittings, pumps, or strainers, and corrosion can occur if the machine was not properly cleaned. Matt Ellens, a Sales Territory Manager at Heartland AG Systems says “Spray drift is always a topic of discussion in the spring, especially during post spraying. AIM solenoids can start to corrode in the connections after sitting over the winter”. Before you take your machine out to the field, pull apart the connections and take a quick look for any foreign material. When you put your machine away for the winter, make sure you take the necessary steps to winterize your machine for the next spring.  

These unexpected breakdowns often come from your machines being in storage for a season. When it comes to dry fertilizer application, DEF problems are also a potential threat. Possibilities of frozen plumbing on sprayers are an issue and DEF problems could also be present if the tank wasn’t filled & the filters serviced.  

When issues like these occur, it usually makes for a bad day and a frustrated operator. Rightfully so, because downtime is one of the worst situations for operators to be in, especially when there is a very small window for accomplishing the tasks at hand. Luckily, there are several things you can do to keep these issues to a minimum and keep your machines up and running.  

What to watch for/how to prevent 

  • Do a walk-around of your machines. Doing a quick inspection of your machines each time they go to the field can help prevent breakdowns from happening.
    • Put 100-200 gallons of water in the tank and manually run the water through each section.  
    • Walk the booms and check each tip to make sure it is spraying properly.  
    • A walk-around should be performed daily, but at the very least, make sure you are doing it before the busy season.  
    • Look over each light to make sure they are working properly and replace them as needed. 
  • Keep the machine clean. Simply taking care of your machines can save you a lot of time and frustration down the road. 
    • Check that all grease points can take grease  
    • Run the machine in the yard before heading to the field to ensure that all parts operate properly.  
    • Keep the machine clean to prevent corrosive fertilizer from getting into electrical/hydraulic systems and to ensure clean communication between the hydraulic/electrical systems.  
  • Keep up with the changing temperatures.  
    • DEF issues can be combated by storing machines in a heated building, letting the machines warm up to full operating engine temperature before driving, and making sure your DEF is topped off every day.  
    • In dry application, try not to spread when the temperatures are below 20 degrees Fahrenheit. If you must spread, ensure your machine is in a warm building at night, the engine heater is plugged in, or you let the machine warm up the engine and the hydraulic systems before you try to operate them.  
    • Going into winter storage, perform a battery disconnect. If the machine is going to be in cold storage, think about removing the cab controllers to prevent the screens from freezing. 
  • Make sure you are using the correct tip with the correct chemical label. Many different chemicals are used today and taking the time to read your chemical labels is important. It is also essential to make sure you have the right tip size to match your chemistry, rates, speeds, and pressure, especially with AIM. Whether it is legacy AIM Command or the new AIM Command Flex, it is important to take the time to look over the boom and check cabling, stuck poppets, or corrosion points. 

One excellent way to make sure your machines are up and running each season is to have Heartland AG Systems perform a Preventative Maintenance Inspection on your machines. This allows our experts to take a full look at your machines and fix anything before they are brought out to the field. Our Service Technicians are trained specifically on the equipment we offer and have first-hand knowledge from field experience that they utilize during their inspections to help minimize your downtime in every season. 

Not looking for this kind of assistance with your machines? Although a Preventative Maintenance Inspection is a valuable tool to utilize for your success, Heartland AG Systems also offers a Mobile Field Service armed with a full line of tools and expert knowledge. This enables our technicians to perform in-season repairs at the field or the customer location. We also have a fully equipped shop for customer repair, Preventative Maintenance Inspections, and a fully stocked Parts Warehouse that contains replacement parts for the full line of equipment that Heartland AG Systems offers.

Our services don’t stop there. Additionally, we provide RV antifreeze, fall/winter service booking, expert advice on machine maintenance and storage, and assistance with start-up in the spring to make sure you have a leg up, no matter the circumstance. 

Consider utilizing Heartland AG Systems to best prepare your machines for the next season. We are completely committed to your every application need and are here to bring success to your operation through our expertise and excellent customer service.