In-Season Ideas

January 9, 2009 06:00 PM
Winter ice storms can knock out electricity, creating a dangerous situation for farms and farm families. Safe operation of standby generators is important.
Safe Connections

Winter ice storms can leave farmers and farm families searching for emergency power. Always remember that standby generators should be properly grounded by a licensed electrician. Do not directly connect generators to household wiring; your electrician will need to ensure that wiring meets local electrical codes.

If possible, use ground-fault circuit interrupters (GFCI) around any water hazard areas. This will help prevent electrocutions and electrical shocks when power lines are damaged. Portable GFCIs for electrical outlets are available at most hardware supply stores.

Operate generators only in locations that provide good ventilation. Generators that run on a gasoline or diesel engine may produce deadly levels of carbon dioxide without proper ventilation.

Bolster Windbreaks

Feeling the power of the winter wind? As windbreaks age, they may not be able to deliver the same efficiency. Conservation and forestry specialists at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln say landowners should check windbreaks to keep tabs on their quality.

This allows you to see when water is needed, when dead tree branches need to be removed or if a newly established windbreak is facing disease or insect damage. If there are dead or dying trees in an established windbreak, getting an early start on renovation can enable you to make use of the old trees to protect young trees as they grow. As cedar trees mature, the lower limbs die, which may require planting shrub rows to fill in the gaps.

Other types of renovations, from complete removal to replacing several rows to removing specific trees, are important to obtain a healthy windbreak. Before a major renovation, you may want to consult a forester or conservationist on opportunities to interplant rows to the windward side of an existing windbreak before removing the interior. Also, contact your local Forest Service to inquire about cost-share practices.

All in Balance

Adding weight to your tractor is important for maximum power and efficient operation, as well as safe transport. First, determine the weight of your tractor. A good rule of thumb from machinery manufacturers: When working in the 3 mph to 5 mph range, your tractor's total weight needs to be approximately 130 lb. to 135 lb. per horsepower.

As your groundspeed increases, your total weight can go down. For example, in the 5 mph to 7 mph range, 120 lb. to 125 lb. per horsepower is recommended.

Where to put it. If you have a two-wheel-drive tractor, 75% of the weight should go across the back axle and 25% on the front. If the tractor is front-wheel assist, the weight ratio changes to 60% rear and 40% front.

If you are using a front loader on your tractor, the ballast requirements of your tractor will be different.

Follow tractor and loader manuals.

Operators should also remember to decrease tire inflation pressures when ballast is removed. Increase tire pressures when ballast is added.

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