Protecting Your Farm Equipment and You from Dust This Summer
After the spring rains gave everything a good soaking, summer sun has been helping things grow and drying things out. As a result, farm tractors will be kicking up plenty of inorganic dust from the roads and fields. Certain equipment tends to blow organic dust everywhere as well, such as dried and pulverized grass or manure. As durable as it is, protecting your farm equipment, as well as yourself, from dust this summer will keep you in the field instead of back in the shop.
Protecting Your Farm Equipment
“Give me a burlap sack and a piece of baling wire, and I can fix anything,” a sage farmer once said, just a bit old-fashioned ingenuity and practical wisdom. Of course, it takes a little more than a sack and a bit of wire to keep dust at bay, but you probably already have on hand everything you’ll need.
- Engines – If there is anywhere dust absolutely does not belong, it’s in the engine. Every season, you should start with a new engine air filter, taking pains to ensure it’s properly installed and sealed to the engine intake. Consider a foam pre-filter to capture larger particles that can clog a regular filter. Also, confirm there are no missing caps, such as on the fuel tank or crankcase.
- Pro tip: Never use compressed air to clean the primary air filter. This will damage the filter and render it useless. If necessary, gently shake excess dust from the primary air filter. Otherwise, consider simply replacing the filter, which is far less costly than an engine rebuild.
- Bearings –All farm equipment has moving parts, and dust can and will bring everything to a screeching halt, or at least screeching in motion. The best thing to do is check that everything is properly lubricated. Ensure all bearings have their grease fittings attached, and give each bearing a couple pumps of grease every 20–50 hours of operating time (check your operator manual to be sure). This will force old grease and contamination out of the joints.
- Pro tip: Don’t pump in so much grease that you blow out the seals.
While you’re hard at work protecting your farm equipment from dust this summer, don’t forget to protect yourself. After all, the equipment isn’t going to run itself. Dust can cause a number of respiratory problems, from simple allergies to Farmer’s Lung, or even lung cancer. Just like your tractor’s engine needs to breathe clean air, so do you. The engine is equipped with an air filter for just this reason, but your body and your natural filters aren’t nearly as effective.
- Cabin Filter – If your tractor has a cab, you can significantly reduce your exposure to dust by keeping the doors closed and the cabin filters clean. Make sure that any door and body seals are in good condition, which will prevent dust from entering the cabin and your lungs. In a pinch, duct tape can keep the the cabin sealed.
- Respirator – If your tractor doesn’t have a cab, you can always get a respirator rated for dust. Disposable dust masks can be cost-effective, if you rarely need them. On the other hand, a reusable respirator, with washable or replaceable filters, can pay for itself in just one season of constant use. Get properly fitted for a respirator, as a poor-fitting respirator can be just as bad as no respirator at all.
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Photo courtesy of Foter