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Prevent cold-weather equipment complications

Kyle Dabrowski for Progressive Dairy Published on 15 November 2021
Operator comfort

Dairy farming is a year-round job, and that includes those cold winter mornings. When it’s well below freezing and you have cattle to feed, you want to make sure your tractor is ready to work too.

That means starting reliably with the powertrain and hydraulics warming up quickly, so chores can be completed without delay, even under the toughest of conditions. It also means having a cab that’s nice and warm, with windows that defrost quickly so you can get the job done comfortably and safely.

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Cold weather can cause complications for your equipment, preventing it from performing at its best if not properly protected and cared for. However, there are several steps you can take to help ensure you don’t get any unpleasant surprises this winter – or next spring.

Choose equipment designed for Canadian winters

It’s important to choose equipment from a supplier whose close connection with the Canadian market ensures machines are designed and tested for cold weather to make certain they perform under all kinds of conditions.

Being winter-ready isn’t just about durability. Operator comfort can be severely affected by the cold – and that goes beyond wanting to feel cozy; it can lead to distraction and poor performance. It is beneficial to use equipment that features a cab designed and rated for optimal comfort whether you’re in Newfoundland, British Columbia or anywhere in between.

Act today and be prepared for the cold

The last thing you want to contend with this winter is repairs – or replacement. Here are a few tips on how to make sure your equipment is protected from the cold and in top shape for years to come.

1. Check your block heater and battery

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Make sure to clean your block heater’s plug terminals: They may have corrosion from not being used. Using a multimeter to check your block heater’s performance may save you when you need it the most. You can also use it to test your battery, ensuring it is ready to deliver those cold cranking amps this winter. If you are not using your tractor frequently throughout the winter, it is recommended that a trickle charger is used to protect the battery, as the cold winter months will shorten the lifespan of a battery with a low charge.

2. Look after your filters

Today, most systems have both water separation and dirt separation filtration between the fuel tank and the injection system. Before the temperatures get below freezing, make sure water and sediment filters are drained and cleaned. This could also be a good time to replace any fuel filters if they are approaching the maintenance interval – because there’s nothing worse than replacing them on a -20ºC morning.

3. Beware of condensation

The winter months can generate extreme condensation buildup on fuel-related components. Make it your standard practice to keep your fluid and fuel tanks topped up: This will reduce the chances of condensation accumulating on the inside surface of the tank.

4. Store your DEF properly

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Keep any diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) jugs out of freezing conditions and out of direct sunlight. This will ensure your DEF supply is at its best when you need to use it. It’s always good practice to only use good-quality DEF and to keep your tractor’s DEF tank topped up throughout the year. It’s even more important during the winter.

5. See how your antifreeze rates

Did you know there’s a cold-weather performance test for antifreeze? You can buy a coolant tester for around $10 that can indicate if the protection level of the coolant in your system is adequate. Simply use the pressure cap and draw some antifreeze out of the system; the float in the tester will tell you if you need to add coolant. A few minutes of testing could save you a lot of time and money in the heart of the winter.

What you do now can save you later

Being prepared for Canadian winters is extremely important. It can save you time, money – and maybe a whole lot more. With a little preparation and proper equipment, you can make sure you keep getting the job done on your farm, no matter what Canadian weather throws in your direction. end mark

PHOTO: Prioritize operator comfort when operating equipment during winter; staying warm could help prevent distraction and poor performance. Photo courtesy of Kubota Canada Ltd.

Kyle Dabrowski is a product manager – agricultural equipment with Kubota Canada Ltd.

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