Use tractors, equipment to save fuel

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ST. PAUL, Minn. – High fuel prices are likely to boost crop production costs during the coming growing season.

However, proper preparation and use of tractors and equipment can save fuel dollars.

Bill Halfman, regional educator for the University of Minnesota Extension Service, has several suggestions for getting the most work from each gallon of fuel.

For the job. Match the tractor to the job. Obviously, it doesn’t take a 100-horsepower tractor to rake hay.

However, it’s not uncommon to see high-horsepower tractors doing very low-power jobs.

Watch filters. Make sure air and fuel filters are changed when necessary.

Partially clogged filters can starve engines of both air and fuel, making them work harder just to run.

Changing oil and other maintenance also helps tractors run efficiently.

Tires. Make sure tires are correctly inflated. Radials are typically inflated to lower pressures than bias-ply tires.

Weights. Make sure the tractor is properly weighted. This means considering total tractor weight and weight distribution.

Often a tractor is weighted for the most difficult tillage job and left that way.

Most of the year the weights aren’t necessary, and taking them off means the tractor will burn less fuel.

Unnecessarily leaving on a lot of weight while doing light tasks is like pulling your pick-up truck around.

Gearing. Shifting up a gear and backing off on the throttle can help save fuel while doing many tasks, as long as it doesn’t cause the engine to lug down too much.

Exhaust. Newer diesel engines should not be blowing a lot of black smoke while working. The black smoke is unburned fuel and indicates inefficient operation.

Adjust tools. Adjusting the implements you are pulling or using can also help save fuel.

If tillage tools are not correctly aligned or leveled, the tractor will work harder pulling them across the field. Forage harvesters will pull easier if the knives are sharp and the shear bar is correctly adjusted.

All machinery should be kept lubricated according to the owner’s manual to reduce friction and costly repairs.

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