2022 Spring Maintenance Checklist

March 28, 2022 11:06 AM
Blog Post

Spring planting
Performing pre-season maintenance on your spring equipment can be the key to ensuring a low-stress planting season and optimizing yields. 

Spring planting season will soon be here across the state of Iowa. Whether you’re on the tail end of your spring equipment preparations or just getting started, we wanted to remind you of some past articles and videos that may be useful as you prepare for the 2022 planting season.

While planters are often the first thing that comes to mind when preparing for spring, let’s start with the first thing many growers across the state will put in the field this spring – tillage equipment. Ensuring our tillage tools are level front to back and side to side is critical for optimal performance. This article gives some details on the basics of checking and adjusting your tools. It’s also critical to check and adjust your tractor tire pressures and machine ballasting at the start of the season and throughout the spring, especially if utilizing the same tractor on multiple implements. Properly adjusted tire pressure and ballast can have impacts on traction, performance, productivity and fuel economy. To read more on these topics utilize this article and resources mentioned within it.

Planters are one of the most complex tools utilized on farms today. Taking time before planting your first field this spring to look your planter over and ensure it is properly set up and operating at peak performance can help alleviate stress this spring and ensure optimal planting quality. Our Planter "Pre-Flight" Checklist can be a great article to review as a reminder of some basic items to check on your planter. While not an all-inclusive list, it covers many of the basics across many planter manufacturers. For specifics on your planter, always refer to your equipment dealers or operator’s manual.

Checking the depth settings on your planter has become more prominent in recent years as we continue to drive for more even and consistent emergence. We put a lot of effort into properly opening and placing seed into the trench, but often neglect the closing system on our planters. Ensuring they are properly adjusted and aligned to close the trench from the bottom up is critical to good seed to soil contact and surrounding the seed with moist soil from below and not covering it up with loose dry soil from the surface. In our research programs we have also found that using a leaf blower can be a great way to quickly evaluate tillage and closing wheel job quality while in the field. This video shows how this can be done in quickly when your setting up your planter in the first (and hopefully every field) this spring. Review these video resources for step-by-step guides and checklists for completing some of these more complex planter setup tasks.

It’s also important to think about your fertilizer and pesticide application equipment early in the spring. While some growers have service providers do these tasks for them, understanding how the machines should be properly set up can help you prevent and diagnose issues should they appear in your fields. With dry fertilizer equipment it’s critical to understand the characteristics of the product being applied. This allows proper calibration and setup of the machine for accurate and consistent coverage. With liquid sprayers there are also some basic maintenance items we can check before heading to the field this spring. You can also look into tools that allow us to quickly check nozzle flows across the boom to ensure consistent and accurate liquid flow out of every nozzle.

While many of us don’t enjoy performing maintenance and setup on our equipment, it’s a critical part of equipment operation to allow for optimum performance in the field this spring. A few hours spent now addressing issues could mean planting more fields on the first day in the field. For additional resources related to equipment and technology on the farm please visit the Digital Ag Extension website.  

Authors: 

Ryan Bergman Program Coordinator in Ag Technology

Ryan Bergman is a Program Coordinator in Ag Technology at Iowa State University where he is part of a 20+ person research team focusing on precision agriculture, big data, telematics, data analytics, aerial imagery, and ag machinery automation. Ryan has received both his bachelor’s and mas...