A few extra steps before storing equipment that is outfitted with precision farming components can minimize problems when the machines are brought out of storage next season.
"We recommend taking touch-screen displays out of machines and storing them where they will not be exposed to extreme cold or heat," says Nick Ohrtman, tech support supervisor for Ag Leader Technology. "Keeping touch screens away from extremes in temperature increases their longevity."
On combines equipped with yield monitoring systems, consider removing the mass flow sensor from the top of the clean grain elevator housing.
"Mice like to gnaw on the potting material on the load cell," Ohrtman says. "It's good insurance to take it out and store it in a place where rodents can't get to it."
Some components of yield monitoring systems are finicky about exposure to moisture. Moisture meters that use small augers to move grain past sensing plates are susceptible to corrosion of the bushing plates or support housing. Disassemble the auger, then clean and lightly lubricate the auger supports before storage.
Leave fountain augers "up" when John Deere combines are stored outside. The grain intake chute on moisture meters mounted to the top of the clean grain elevator inside John Deere grain tanks may be exposed to rain and snow if the fountain auger is folded down or removed.
Don't overlook precision components on seeding equipment when prepping machinery for storage. Planters and seeders with automated row control systems benefit from extra attention. Extremes in temperature and humidity will encourage moisture to condense in components, resulting in corrosion that can cause problems next spring.
Automatic row shutoffs use either electric clutches or pneumatic shutoffs to disengage seeding units. Use a blow nozzle and compressed air to clean accumulated dust and field debris from the actuating mechanisms on electric clutches before storage.
"On our electric clutches, tuck the spray straw from a can of WD-40 or other light lubricant under the rubber seal and give it a short squirt," says Jeff Dillman, inventor of Tru Count systems. "Don't blow them out with [compressed] air because it might force dust and grit into the wrong places. Just give each clutch a brief squirt of WD, then actuate the clutch and manually turn the shaft to distribute the lube so everything will be free when you take it out of storage."
On row shutoff systems that use on-board compressed air systems to actuate row clutches, open the petcock on air storage tanks to drain the condensed water.
On-board air systems also have a small distribution manifold with a pressure switch mounted to it. Be sure to power up the air compressor and pressurize the manifold, then remove the air line from the manifold to purge accumulated moisture before storage.
Clear clutches. Air-actuated row shutoff clutches benefit from carefully aimed bursts of aerosol lubricant.
"There's a small port where you can stick the straw from a spray can and give each [clutch] a two-second squirt of lube," Dillman says. " The big thing is to cycle the clutch and turn the shaft a few revolutions to distribute the lube after you squirt it."
Dillman says it's also a good idea to apply dielectric "grease" to electrical connectors used in row shutoff systems and other precision farming wiring harnesses. Dielectric compound is a nonconductive, water-repellent lubricant. Connectors slide together more easily, and moisture and dust are excluded, after it is applied.
The Vaseline-like compound prevents trace voltages from crossing between pins inside the connector while actually improving metal-to-metal contact between pins and sockets.
"[Dielectric grease] is always a good idea for electrical connectors on farm equipment," Dillman says, "especially on electrical and electronic systems that sit outside for storage or during rainy spells in the busy season."
You can e-mail Dan Anderson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- December 2009