Having applicators ready to do what you want them to do when you need them to do it is critical for an agricultural retailer doing custom application work.

The recommendation to farmers is to maintain their equipment to the best of their ability by storing equipment during the harsh Midwestern winters. But most ag retailers with extensive custom operations simply do not have the space to store several large applicators.

There are other things that can be done to keep equipment in top-notch shape, and the first one is standard procedure with every operation, if I was to guess—keeping records of services and work done while following recommendations of the service handbook. Keeping a close eye on what needs done  and when is important. A sensible recommendation is an easy to read chart with each piece of equipment identified and the timeframe when service and maintenance must be performed.

Putting equipment away for the winter clean and serviced is really important according to equipment manufacturers.

Having toured a lot of ag retailer operations, it is more common than many might think about how cramped employees are for doing work on the big applicator equipment of today. An industry recommendation is for a service shop with five-feet of perimeter space all the way around the biggest piece of equipment that will be serviced.

A Southern States Cooperative information bulletin suggests that doing an oil analysis might help to trouble-shoot problems before they result in a breakdown. The best oil sample for analysis is one that is hot so that all the materials in the oil will be thoroughly mixed into the sample. Doing oil analysis provides a base for normal conditions and can provide an alert when a sample is different than should be expected. The oil can be an alert to abnormal wear or contaminates. Oil analysis is something the equipment manufacturer can do for a customer.

Tuning engines appropriately is of major concern to keep an applicators rolling during a hectic season; therefore, an engine has to be operating in a tip-top manner first day after that winter layover. Even if an engine was operating perfectly when it was put into hibernation for the winter, it would be best to check that engine before the first day it is needed to run in the spring. The spring checkup should really include all aspects of the equipment—including a close visual for any freeze and thaw damage. As we all know, rust has a tendency to lock up some moving parts.