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HOW-TO TIPS FOR YOUR PROPERTY

Man washing tractor

Off-Season Storage Checklist

Anytime you store your Frontier Equipment for an extended period of time, even a few months, it’s smart to first take the time to make sure it’s cleaned, maintained, and properly protected. A little effort here will make start-up easier and help your equipment last longer and perform better.

Storage procedures for every piece of equipment...

Off-Season Storage Checklist

Anytime you store your Frontier Equipment for an extended period of time, even a few months, it’s smart to first take the time to make sure it’s cleaned, maintained, and properly protected. A little effort here will make start-up easier and help your equipment last longer and perform better.

Storage procedures for every piece of equipment will be a little different, but generally speaking, here are some top line thoughts on steps to take.

  • Clean it with a high-pressure washer, making sure to get in all the nooks and crannies where dirt and trash can hide.
  • Check for worn parts including belts and hoses, loose bolts, leaks, electrical connections, hydraulics, etc. Now is the time to repair and replace, rather than when you want to start up again and experience a problem, while the work you need to do goes undone.
  • Protect any scratched up areas on metal decks and housings to prevent rust. Paint works. Wax might be a good option in certain areas.
  • Check all fluid levels and filters and follow your operator’s manual instructions for storage and maintenance.
  • Now is great time to remove and sharpen or replace blades on cutting equipment. Some require specialized skills or equipment. So consult your operator’s manual, or call your John Deere dealer for advice.
  • Check tires for wear and damage. Make sure they’re inflated to storage specification.
  • For implements like blades, plows, pushes, tillage tools, etc. all the ground-working components should be thoroughly cleaned and coated with a lubricant or other protective coating to prevent rust.
  • Lubricate all moving parts and check all grease points.
  • If possible, store your equipment in a shed and under a tarp to protect it from the elements.

Lastly, always check the operator’s manual for each piece of equipment for any special instructions on extended storage. Always read the Operator’s Manual before operating any piece of equipment and follow all operating and safety instructions.

And remember the old adage: How you put your tools away will determine the condition you find them in when you need to use them next time.

 

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man on tractor plowing earth in front of fence

Creating a large vegetable garden with a one-bottom plow.

If you want to turn soil for a large vegetable garden or seedbed that hasn’t been turned before, then a Frontier One-Bottom Plow is exactly the tool you need.

But first, here are a few things to think about and do before you stake out and plow your garden.

Expect success.
Big gardens are capable of producing big harvests. So have a plan for how you’ll harvest your crops and what you intend to do with all those vegetables...

Creating a large vegetable garden with a one-bottom plow.

If you want to turn soil for a large vegetable garden or seedbed that hasn’t been turned before, then a Frontier One-Bottom Plow is exactly the tool you need.

But first, here are a few things to think about and do before you stake out and plow your garden.

Expect success.
Big gardens are capable of producing big harvests. So have a plan for how you’ll harvest your crops and what you intend to do with all those vegetables, season after season.

Check your soil.
Not all soil has been created equal. Soils that are too sandy, have too much clay, or don’t drain well will not produce as much as soil that has the right texture and makeup. Call your county extension office and ask about using a soil test kit. It can help you determine what type of soil you have so you know how to improve it if necessary.

Water.
Mother Nature may, or may not provide all the water and nourishment your garden needs. So think about how you could supplement her best efforts, just in case.

Weather.
Specifically, know when the projected dates for the first and last frosts of the growing season are. There are a variety of online resources for finding this information for your area.

Time to get started.
First, stake out where you want your garden to be. If you’re planning on using a plow attached to your tractor’s 3-point hitch to break that never-been-broken-before soil, then you’re probably planning to create a garden that is at least 30 feet wide by 50 feet long. That area is called the “land.” The ground just beyond the end of the furrows you’ll plow is called the “headland.” Make sure you have enough headland space at both ends for your tractor to turn around comfortably to make the return passes. About 10 feet should do it.

Next, make sure your plow is level with the ground, side-to-side and front-to-back. Adjust the top link and lift arm as necessary.

Plow your first furrow
down the center of your garden area. Raise the plow, turn around to the right, and put the right rear tractor tire in that furrow. Then adjust the lift arm to bring the plow to level again. Proceed to dig this next furrow with the tractor tire in the first furrow. Your plow should now be throwing soil into the first furrow you cut. When you get to the end, raise the plow again, turn around to the right again, place the right tractor tire in the center furrow, and cut your next furrow. Continue in this fashion, always turning right, always putting your right rear tire in a previously plowed furrow until you’ve plowed your entire garden.

You should plow this new garden area in the fall and let the overturned vegetation begin to decompose while the ground temperatures are still warm. In the spring, it will be ready for you to use a rotary tiller to break up all the large dirt clods and create a beautifully smooth seedbed for you to start planting.

And remember, always read the Operator’s Manual before operating any piece of equipment and follow all operating and safety instructions.

 

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tractor moving through earth using cultivator

Using a one-row cultivator

If you have a big garden, you know as well as we do that weeding all that by hand with a hoe or a rake would be hard work and no fun at all. But with a one-row cultivator and your compact utility tractor, you can quickly and easily till the soil on each side of the rows in your garden, removing unwanted grass and weeds, and breaking up the soil crust, making it easier for the ground to absorb moisture and nutrients.

The Frontier One-Row Cultivator has six C-shaped tines with reversible and replaceable curved metal tips. The tines are attached to the implement...

Creating a large vegetable garden with a one-bottom plow.

Using a one-row cultivator

If you have a big garden, you know as well as we do that weeding all that by hand with a hoe or a rake would be hard work and no fun at all. But with a one-row cultivator and your compact utility tractor, you can quickly and easily till the soil on each side of the rows in your garden, removing unwanted grass and weeds, and breaking up the soil crust, making it easier for the ground to absorb moisture and nutrients.

The Frontier One-Row Cultivator has six C-shaped tines with reversible and replaceable curved metal tips. The tines are attached to the implement frame with bolts that allow them to be adjusted horizontally along the frame. It’s compatible with a Category 1, 3-point hitch (iMatchTM compatible) and will work well behind tractors with 25 to 45 engine horsepower.

The One-Row Cultivator lets you drive your tractor right over the top of the row in your garden, skimming right over the tops of the plants, while the tines cultivate the soil on each side. Adjust the spacing of the tines to make sure you’re really getting a good turn of the soil where you want it.

With a one-row cultivator, you can really cut the time it takes to maintain a big garden, AND improve its yield.

And remember, always read the Operator’s Manual before operating any piece of equipment and follow all operating and safety instructions.

 

Helpful Links

 

tractor tilling showing great garden soil

Creating great garden soil.

Well-prepared soil can mean the difference between a bountiful crop or disappointment at harvest time. Assuming your garden is in an area that will get sufficient water and at least 6 hours of full sunlight daily then spring is the time to get the soil ready.

If you haven’t tested your soil, you should. Soil testing will ...

Creating great garden soil.

Well-prepared soil can mean the difference between a bountiful crop or disappointment at harvest time. Assuming your garden is in an area that will get sufficient water and at least 6 hours of full sunlight daily then spring is the time to get the soil ready.

If you haven’t tested your soil, you should. Soil testing will help you understand the nutrient content, composition (sand, clay, etc.), and pH level. Call your county extension office for advice about soil sampling and using a soil test kit. It can help you determine the makeup of the soil you have so you know how to improve it if necessary. Then apply the appropriate soil improvement products.

If yours is a young garden, you’ll likely want to add organic material in the form of compost and/or composted manure. Do your research based on the type and condition of your soil to achieve the result you want. Then track the results of your efforts in terms of soil condition through annual testing, along with the harvest you achieve. Adjust as needed, and plant again.

If you till your garden with a PTO-driven rotary tiller with your tractor, but don’t till too thoroughly or too deep. You want the soil to retain some of its tilth for drainage and absorption of nutrients.

When your garden season is over, remove the garden plant residue by plowing it under and then let the soil mellow over the winter. Alternatively, you could plant a cover crop like alfalfa or clover. Then next spring, step one of your garden soil management program will be to chop down the cover crop and let it decompose, which will add organic matter to the soil. Once it has decomposed, your tractor and rotary tiller can incorporate it back into the soil.

There are plenty of resources available on building up your garden soil. Again, your local extension office is an excellent source of knowledge about common local conditions where you live. Ultimately, soil management can easily be as important to the success of your garden as how you care for the plants growing there.

And remember, always read the Operator’s Manual before operating any piece of equipment and follow all operating and safety instructions.

 

Helpful Links

 

Tractor tilling a vegetable garden

Using a tractor mount rotary tiller in your large vegetable garden.

Whether you’re replanting a garden from last year, or in the process of putting in a new garden, a rotary tiller is ideal for getting that seedbed broken into the perfect texture for planting. Frontier offers 13 models of rotary tillers with working widths ranging from 42 to 121 inches (1.1 – 3.1 m).

A rotary tiller uses a set of curved tines attached to a rotating shaft that is powered by your tractor’s PTO to dig into your garden soil, churning it ...

Using a tractor mount rotary tiller in your large vegetable garden.

Whether you’re replanting a garden from last year, or in the process of putting in a new garden, a rotary tiller is ideal for getting that seedbed broken into the perfect texture for planting. Frontier offers 13 models of rotary tillers with working widths ranging from 42 to 121 inches (1.1 – 3.1 m).

A rotary tiller uses a set of curved tines attached to a rotating shaft that is powered by your tractor’s PTO to dig into your garden soil, churning it into a fine, essentially clod-free seedbed. You can adjust the working depth of your tiller by adjusting the skid shoes. Generally speaking, the larger the tiller the greater the maximum working depth. In a large vegetable garden, however, tilling to a depth of no more than 6 inches should be sufficient.

When it comes to working width, you want a tiller that is at least as wide as the outside measurement of your rear tractor tires. Otherwise, you may end up with some areas in your garden that aren’t tilled as well as others. So make sure you pay attention to each pass, making sure you overlap each one.

If you’re starting a new garden, then ideally you plowed it in the fall and let the overturned soil mellow over the winter. Spring is the time to use the rotary tiller. Since this soil has never been tilled before, you should go over it two or three times until the soil is tilled 4 to 6 inches deep and is free of any large clods.

Whether you’re tilling a new garden or re-tilling one that perhaps hasn’t been planted in awhile, start slowly and don’t till too deep. Going too fast means your tiller won’t have time to grind the soil the way it should. Once you’ve been over the ground a time or two, you can increase your speed and working depth.

The tailgate on your tiller is also adjustable. A more open tailgate will allow larger dirt clods to come out, giving you a slightly coarser soil, and provide a less level surface. The type of soil you have and what you intend to plant will impact how coarse you want the seedbed to be.

And remember, always read the Operator’s Manual before operating any piece of equipment and follow all operating and safety instructions.


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Frontier attachment showing preparing ground for planting flowers

Beautify a patch of ground:
Planting a wildflower meadow

Although Mother Nature does a fabulous job beautifying the landscape all by herself, occasionally, you might have the urge to give her a helping hand.

For example, a large area of rough pasture might be fine on the back section of your property, but maybe less so if seen not far from your front porch. A rolling, grassy area on the near horizon might be starkly attractive, but what if it sported more color during the growing season. Turning those areas...


Beautify a patch of ground:
Planting a wildflower meadow

Although Mother Nature does a fabulous job beautifying the landscape all by herself, occasionally, you might have the urge to give her a helping hand.

For example, a large area of rough pasture might be fine on the back section of your property, but maybe less so if seen not far from your front porch. A rolling, grassy area on the near horizon might be starkly attractive, but what if it sported more color during the growing season. Turning those areas into something more eye appealing might be a good idea. There are, no doubt, many ways you might go about this, but planting wildflowers can yield a naturally beautiful result.

Always start with step one.

First, look over the area you’re interested in and come to a conclusion about exactly what you want to accomplish. Do you want to turn the area into a meadow that is dense with wildflowers? Or are you just looking for a little more color in your vista? Your decision will dictate how to approach the project and what tools you’ll need to get the job done right.

Next, assess the existing condition of your targeted piece of land so you can select a wildflower seed combination that will have the best chance to thrive in that environment. Assessing the composition of the soil is the place to start. Clay versus sandy versus loamy? Standing water? Dry and bare? Obviously, the availability of sunlight and water are critical for growing plants, too. And some need more than others. So make sure you understand the soil you’ll be working with, the overall environment, the needs of the plants, and how much ground you want to improve. Then choose your wildflowers – or any other plant material, for that matter – in the quantities you’ll need to get the job done.

Planting a meadow that’s dense with wildflowers.

If you want to replace grass or pasture with a blanket of wildflowers, you’ll need to virtually eliminate the vegetation that’s already there. Start by using a rotary cutter on pasture grass to take what’s there down as short as you can. If you’re replacing turf-type grass, a grooming mower on its lowest setting is the tool to use.

If you’re working in a pasture-type area with a rotary cutter, first make sure there aren’t any tree stumps, large limbs or large rocks hidden in the cutting area that could damage your rotary cutter. If the plant material includes saplings or small shrubs, a Frontier Rotary Cutter will cut material up to 1 inch thick and grassy material down to 1½ inches long.

Next, you’ll want to disk or till the soil to get the stubble, any weeds, and their roots chopped up and turned over to prepare the soil. If your targeted area is about a half acre or less, a Frontier Rotary Tiller could be a good choice. However, if your wildflower meadow is any larger, a disk harrow would work better.

For the smaller areas, use your tractor and a PTO-driven rotary tiller to till the soil just a couple inches deep. Removing as much grass or pasture as possible will reduce the ability of those plants and weeds to compete with your new wildflowers. Using a rotary tiller means operating at a pretty slow speed. Hence, you should confine its use to a fairly small plot of land.

If your planned wildflower meadow is larger, then a Frontier Disk Harrow would be a better partner for your tractor. Frontier Disk Harrows are available in a very wide range of sizes to fit virtually any size tractor. You can make a few passes over the area you want to cultivate with a disk harrow and do it at a higher speed than with a rotary tiller. When you’re done, all the grass should be turned over, leaving a good seedbed behind.

Be aware that regardless of which approach you take, short of chemically eradicating the old grass, some of it will inevitably come back. But if you do a good job of getting the existing vegetation turned over, you should end up with a very natural looking meadow where wildflowers dominate the landscape.

Time to plant.

A Frontier Broadcast Spreader is one of the top ten implements to have in your machine shed. For a large area of land, it’s a great tool for spreading seed. Plus, it’s a 3-season implement, useful for spreading seed, fertilizer, and salt in the winter.

First, make sure your spreader is clean from any previous use before attaching to your tractor’s 3-point hitch. A seeding tip is to mix one part of seed with 10 parts of light sand. Mix them together thoroughly then follow the Operator’s Manual instructions for filling the hopper and setting the dispersal rate. Move over your soon-to-be wildflower meadow, spreading seed/sand at the seed supplier’s recommended rate, typically expressed in pounds per 1,000 square feet. The seed/sand mixture helps spread the seed evenly, and because the sand is lighter color than the soil, you can easily see where you’ve seeded.

Finally, you’ll want to make sure all your planted seed has good seed to soil contact. A chain harrow will do a pretty good job of this. As you drag it over your planted seed, it pulls soil over the seed to help smooth the seedbed, stabilize the seed in place, and promote germination.

The One Machine alternative.

If you’re wondering if there’s a faster, easier way to accomplish all of the above for any planting project, then consider a Food Plot Seeder that combines the disk, seed dispenser, and a chain drag all into a single implement. The Food Plot Seeder will disk and cultivate the soil, plant virtually any kind of seed you’d like to use, pack the soil, and rake it into the soil with its chain drag, all in one pass. You can even add an optional roller bar that will help firm the seedbed.

For a little more insight into this project, take a look at an article titled A touch of prairie in the Spring 2015 issue of Homestead magazine. You’ll learn more about how to return your land to the beauty of native flowers and grasses.

And remember, always read the Operator’s Manual before operating any piece of equipment and follow all operating and safety instructions.


Helpful Links

 

tractor with broom showing dethatch your lawn

Time to dethatch your lawn?

Spring is a good time to see if your lawn is developing a thatch problem by digging a core sample using a garden spade. Thatch will appear as a distinct layer between the healthy grass crown and the underlying soil. If it is more than ½" thick, it’s time to consider taking action.

Thatch is made up of un-decomposed plant material that accumulates on the surface of the soil. Dethatching removes that layer of material. If you have a small lawn...

Time to dethatch your lawn?

Spring is a good time to see if your lawn is developing a thatch problem by digging a core sample using a garden spade. Thatch will appear as a distinct layer between the healthy grass crown and the underlying soil. If it is more than ½" thick, it’s time to consider taking action.

Thatch is made up of un-decomposed plant material that accumulates on the surface of the soil. Dethatching removes that layer of material. If you have a small lawn, a manual thatching rake will work, though it will likely be a tedious process. For your large lawn, however, a Frontier loader mount rotary broom will do a great job. With its optional lawn-dethatching gauge wheels attached, the bristles will barely touch the ground, avoiding damage to the underlying soil. Use a slower brush speed to avoid any bouncing, which could cause damage to your lawn from too much ground contact.

After dethatching, you’ll need to rake and remove the thatch you’ve brought to the surface. It should make an excellent addition to your compost pile. Now is also a great time to overseed and fertilize.

For more information on your particular lawn and environment situation, contact your state agricultural extension service.

And remember, always read the Operator’s Manual before operating any piece of equipment and follow all operating and safety instructions.

 

Helpful Links

 

tractor digging showing how to eliminate standing water

How to eliminate standing water.

If you have a patch of hardpan on your place or pasture where water doesn’t drain into the ground properly, a subsoiler is a great tool for helping it drain properly.

Standing water is often the result of having hard, compacted soil that probably has a lot of clay in it. The water isn’t draining through that compacted soil and it’s just sitting there, or running off, maybe into your neighbor’s pasture, robbing your ground of valuable moisture. A Frontier Subsoiler is a simple tool that will...

How to eliminate standing water.

If you have a patch of hardpan on your place or pasture where water doesn’t drain into the ground properly, a subsoiler is a great tool for helping it drain properly.

Standing water is often the result of having hard, compacted soil that probably has a lot of clay in it. The water isn’t draining through that compacted soil and it’s just sitting there, or running off, maybe into your neighbor’s pasture, robbing your ground of valuable moisture. A Frontier Subsoiler is a simple tool that will break up that hard packed soil beneath the surface and let the water drain away, giving you a better managed, better producing pasture. It has a vertical shaft with an angled point on the bottom that will break up the soil up to 24 inches deep. The shank is sharp enough to leave just a slit in the surface that will close up nicely by running back over with your tractor’s rear tire.

Another common use for a subsoiler is to cut the roots of trees and hedges that lie along the edge of a fence line or between one property and another. The subsoiler will cut those roots beneath the surface and help control the size of the hedge row by not letting it draw moisture from your pasture.

And remember, always read the Operator’s Manual before operating any piece of equipment and follow all operating and safety instructions.

 

Helpful Links

 

tractor with box blade moving through dirt

Using a box blade. The basics.

Along with a loader bucket and rear blade, a box blade with scarifiers is one of the most versatile and fundamental implements to have in your machine shed. Fundamental, because of it’s very simple, straightforward design. Versatile, because you’ll find so many applications for it once you get the hang of using it.

A box blade with scarifiers is basically a 3-sided metal box, with front and rear scraping blades that sit across the bottom of the rear panel. It’s used primarily...

Using a box blade. The basics.

Along with a loader bucket and rear blade, a box blade with scarifiers is one of the most versatile and fundamental implements to have in your machine shed. Fundamental, because of it’s very simple, straightforward design. Versatile, because you’ll find so many applications for it once you get the hang of using it.

A box blade with scarifiers is basically a 3-sided metal box, with front and rear scraping blades that sit across the bottom of the rear panel. It’s used primarily for spreading material like soil or gravel, and for grading, leveling, or backfilling an expansive area of land for a driveway, lawn, garden, building site, etc. Scarifiers are angled metal teeth, mounted in a row on a crossbeam across the upper width of the box blade. They’re often available with replaceable steel tips. When locked down in operating position, they dig into and break up hard ground so it can be shaped to your need.

The key to becoming skilled at using your box blade is practice, practice, practice. You’ll probably start out being a bit awkward, but after a few projects, you’ll soon gain skill and confidence. So start with something simple that doesn’t require the use of the scarifiers, spreading out a pile of dirt or gravel. Then you’ll be ready to break up some uneven ground with the scarifiers, scraping and moving the soil around, spreading it out, until the area is level or sloped for drainage, depending on your needs.

Here are a few basic tips to keep in mind:

  1. Always read the Operator’s Manual before operating any piece of equipment and follow all operating and safety instructions.
  2. For scraping, adjust your top link so the front and rear cutting blades are just touching the ground. That will provide a basic scraping and smoothing action. For a more aggressive scrape, shorten the top link so the box blade is angled forward a bit.
  3. Use the scarifiers to break up any ground you want to flatten. It could be a bump in your long driveway, a larger hump in an area you want flattened, or perhaps a hardpan area that isn’t draining properly. Go over it with the scarifiers in the down and locked position and your box blade angled forward slightly by shortening the top link. Work over the area well, thoroughly breaking up the soil. Then move the scarifiers into their up position, level the box blade, and work over the loose soil to level or shape as necessary.
  4. For smoothing an area you’ve worked, make sure your box blade is on the ground and level from side to side, then extend the top link so the box blade is angled slightly up. Then set your 3-point in “float” position. Since the 3-point doesn’t exert any down pressure, your box blade will now float along the surface of the ground. With it angled slightly upward, the inside blade will not engage the ground, and the rear blade will smooth the soil as you run over it.
  5. Anytime you’ve filled in low spots or holes with loose soil, you’ll need to compact it. Running your rear tractor wheels over the area a few times should do the trick. Then add and compress more soil as necessary.
  6. Your Operator’s Manual is a great reference tool for how to do these basic box blade jobs.

 

Helpful Links

 

tractor with box blade moving through dirt

Maintaining your gravel drive.

Gravel driveways need maintenance. It’s simply a fact of life. And the better job you do of maintaining one, the better it will serve you, season after season.

At Frontier, we often say “every season has its tasks, and every task has its tool.” When it comes to maintaining your gravel drive, we believe there are really just two seasons – getting ready for winter, and recovering from winter.

Getting ready for winter. Prepare your gravel drive for winter in the late fall. There are a couple ways to do this, with one option being to use a rear blade. Set the rear blade level...

Maintaining your gravel drive.

Gravel driveways need maintenance. It’s simply a fact of life. And the better job you do of maintaining one, the better it will serve you, season after season.

At Frontier, we often say “every season has its tasks, and every task has its tool.” When it comes to maintaining your gravel drive, we believe there are really just two seasons – getting ready for winter, and recovering from winter.

Getting ready for winter. Prepare your gravel drive for winter in the late fall. There are a couple ways to do this, with one option being to use a rear blade. Set the rear blade level with the ground and at a sharp angle relative to the tractor. Working along the edge of your drive, use the rear blade to pull gravel that has been pushed off the edges back toward the center of the drive. Then, adjust your rear blade to be perpendicular to the tractor and reversed so the cutting edge of the blade points backward. Use the rounded edge of the blade to spread the gravel evenly over the surface of the drive, which will also help fill in those tire tracks that were created over the course of the winter.

Another approach to gravel drive maintenance is to use a land plane. When you're on site and ready to work, with the land plane on the ground, set your 3-point in “float” position. Since the 3-point doesn’t exert any down pressure, your land plane will now float along the surface of the ground. Beginning in the center of your drive, run the land plane over the surface. Gravel and other material will begin to accumulate in the interior of the land plane. As it fills, the gravel will begin to spread out evenly over the surface of the drive. Make several passes until you’ve covered the entire drive from edge to edge and created a smooth, even surface.

Assuming your drive was in relatively good shape to start with, you should be ready for winter.

Recovering from winter.
If you’ve scraped snow off your drive during the winter, then you may have pushed a good amount of gravel off the edges, as well. Spring is a good time to pull that gravel out of the ditches or grassy areas along your drive. A loader mount rotary broom with optional gauge wheels is a good tool to use for this. Then you’ll repeat one of the processes described above.

Depending on how well the gravel has fared over the winter, you may also need to add a top dressing of gravel to your drive at this time. You can order a load of gravel delivered to you, which you can draw from and spread yourself as the need arises. A 4-in-1 bucket and tractor loader will be indispensable for moving this gravel from its storage place to the drive. Then use your rear blade to spread it from center to edge.

Or, you can have a load of gravel tailgated onto your drive. The gravel truck driver will spread the gravel out of a dump truck tailgate directly onto your drive as it moves from one end of the drive to the other. The result should be a smooth blanket of new gravel. You can then use your rear blade or land plane again to shape it as needed.

And remember, always read the Operator’s Manual before operating any piece of equipment and follow all operating and safety instructions

 

Helpful Links

 

tractor with box blade moving through dirt

Repairing a gravel driveway.

It happens to the best of them. No matter how hard you work at it, how conscientious you are about maintaining it, eventually your gravel driveway is going to need some serious repairs. Potholes, washboards, gravel depletion, erosion. Over time, some or all of those problems will be yours to deal with. So here are some tips for dealing with these problems.

Getting started.
The first thing you’ll need to do is...

Repairing a gravel driveway.

It happens to the best of them. No matter how hard you work at it, how conscientious you are about maintaining it, eventually your gravel driveway is going to need some serious repairs. Potholes, washboards, gravel depletion, erosion. Over time, some or all of those problems will be yours to deal with. So here are some tips for dealing with these problems.

Getting started.
The first thing you’ll need to do is to get the driveway surface as close to universally smooth and even as you can. If you have erosion, potholes, etc., you should use a box blade with scarifiers or land plane with scarifiers to break up the overall surface to a universal depth. With potholes, you really need to churn the driveway down to just below the bottom of the pothole, but not into the driveway’s foundation. (Yours does have a foundation, doesn’t it?).

Start by setting the sacrifiers to the desired depth. A couple inches deep will often suffice. Again, avoid digging into the driveway’s foundation. If you churn up anything half the size of your fist or larger, you’ve gone too deep.

Use the box blade or land plane to work over the entire surface of the driveway.

At this point, you’ll need to decide what size gravel you might need to apply. If your drive is soft and potentially muddy, you should consider putting down a layer of 1½-2½” crushed gravel. This will produce a good, stable layer that would provide good drainage, which will help prevent erosion. You might then top this with a good layer of ¾-inch minus gravel. This means the gravel will include everything from ¾-inch pieces all the way down to fines, or powder. This product will compact well, so you can create a firm, smooth surface.

Smooth things out.
Now, using a rear blade set up perpendicular to your tractor and in its reversed position, smooth the drive’s entire new surface, allowing the blade to float along the ground. You should now have a good, firm surface to work with.

You could also use a land plane instead of a rear blade to accomplish the same thing. When you're on site and ready to work, with the land plane on the ground, set your 3-point in “float” position. Since the 3-point doesn’t exert any down pressure, your land plane will now float along the surface of the ground.

Beginning in the center of your drive, run the land plane over the surface. Gravel and other material will begin to accumulate in the interior of the land plane. As it fills, the gravel will begin to spread out evenly over the surface of the drive. Make several passes until you’ve covered the entire drive from edge to edge and created a smooth, even surface.

And remember, always read the Operator’s Manual before operating any piece of equipment and follow all operating and safety instructions.

 

Helpful Links

 

tractor using a land plane on road by lake

Lots of uses for a land plane.

A land plane is a great tool to have in your machine shed for maintaining a gravel road or driveway, smoothing a horse arena, leveling a garden, and plenty of other uses you’ll think of. So here are some basics for how to work with one.

The Frontier Land Planes use two cutting blades set horizontally and at a parallel diagonal angle between two end plates attached to a steel frame. The cutting edges of the blades can...

Lots of uses for a land plane.

A land plane is a great tool to have in your machine shed for maintaining a gravel road or driveway, smoothing a horse arena, leveling a garden, and plenty of other uses you’ll think of. So here are some basics for how to work with one.

The Frontier Land Planes use two cutting blades set horizontally and at a parallel diagonal angle between two end plates attached to a steel frame. The cutting edges of the blades can skim along or cut into the ground’s surface at a shallow depth. There are models with both draw bar and 3-point hitches, which give you flexibility in the equipment you use to pull it. The LP12 Series is also available with scarifiers for more aggressive churning of soil if you need to really repair a gravel drive or other eroded surface.

For smoothing a surface like a gravel driveway that needs maintenance, the land plane should be set up so both blades contact the ground simultaneously. As the land plane begins to work, gravel and soil are lifted and begin flowing over the tops of the blades, coming out the back. As more material is lifted, it builds up by being contained between the two end plates. When the land plane is full, material flows evenly and freely across its working width, leaving a smooth, flat surface behind.

For tasks where you want a slightly more aggressive cut, shorten the top link on the 3-point hitch to allow the front blade to cut at a deeper angle than the rear blade. Conversely, you can lengthen the top link to allow the rear blade to work harder.

The real key in using a land plane successfully is to work slowly. After a little practice, you’ll find the right speed for your tractor and your project. But overall, work slowly and give the land plane a chance to do the job it was built for.

And remember, always read the Operator’s Manual before operating any piece of equipment and follow all operating and safety instructions.

 

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tractor using post hole digger by barn

Using a PTO-driven post hole digger.

Digging a post hole with a PTO-driven Rotomec USA Post Hole Digger and Auger can be safe and easy as long as you follow the rules.

First, read the Operator’s Manual before operating any piece of equipment and follow all operating and safety instructions...

Using a PTO-driven post hole digger.

Digging a post hole with a PTO-driven Rotomec USA Post Hole Digger and Auger can be safe and easy as long as you follow the rules.

First, read the Operator’s Manual before operating any piece of equipment and follow all operating and safety instructions.

Next, call 811 for Common Ground Alliance (CGA). CGA is a non-profit organization with 1,400 members and sponsors that launched the “Call Before You Dig” campaign several years ago. Call 811 and your underground utility lines will be marked for free. Be sure to mark the area where you intend to dig so the people marking your utilities know where to focus their attention.

Once you’re sure the area is safe for digging, carefully mark where you want the holes to be. For example, if you’re building a fence, plot out exactly where the first set of holes should be before you start digging.

When you’re ready to begin digging your post holes, move your tractor with the post hole digger and auger attached into position over the first hole location. The auger needs to work in a vertical position. Using your 3-point hitch, raise the auger point off the ground and turn the leveling crank on the lift link of the tractor until the auger is vertical. With the PTO disengaged, slowly lower the auger until its point just engages the ground. (Some post hole diggers offer a positioning handle attachment that allows the operator to move the tip of the auger from the tractor seat.) Move the tractor slowly forward or backward (as needed) until the auger is vertical with respect to the ground.

With the auger point lowered to the ground, set the engine speed to idle, then engage the PTO. Make sure the auger point is on the ground before engaging the PTO. Increase the PTO speed as required (to a maximum of 540 rpm) so the auger will penetrate the ground and dirt begins coming out of the hole. As you continue to drill down while lowering the 3-point hitch, you may need to move the tractor slightly forward to make sure your hole is straight up and down.

Once you’ve dug the hole to the desired depth, with the auger in the hole, raise and lower the auger a few times to clear the hole of any loose dirt. Then remove the auger from the hole, disengage the PTO, and move on to the next hole location.

 

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tractor using rotary cutter in field

Using a rotary cutter.

No matter what type of land you have to take care of, there is often ground that’s covered in brush, or weeds, or grass that’s a lot taller and rougher than it should be. Or maybe you have a lot of pasture, but the grass has gotten out of control and grown too thick and too tall. A rotary cutter is the implement you need for controlling that over growth and keeping your pasture and edges clean and managed the way they should be.

A rotary cutter is different...

Using a rotary cutter.

No matter what type of land you have to take care of, there is often ground that’s covered in brush, or weeds, or grass that’s a lot taller and rougher than it should be. Or maybe you have a lot of pasture, but the grass has gotten out of control and grown too thick and too tall. A rotary cutter is the implement you need for controlling that over growth and keeping your pasture and edges clean and managed the way they should be.

A rotary cutter is different than a grooming mower. A rotary cutter is designed to cut rough plant material, from thick pasture grass to tree saplings with trunks up to 1-inch thick. It offers an adjustable cutting height from 1½ to 9 inches (4 – 23 cm). The material that is cut is left on the ground behind the cutter, and because it was pretty tall and rough to start with, remains thick and rough-looking on the ground.

On the other hand, a grooming mower is used to finish mow a lawn or sports field sort of area where you need a smooth, fine cut and perhaps even mulching capability. A grooming mower won’t get the job done in a pasture, and a rotary cutter won’t give your lawn the smooth-looking cut you want.

Frontier Rotary Cutters are Category 1 compatible iMatchTM compatible or Category 2 Quick Hitch compatible. They offer working widths from 4 to 7 feet (1.22 – 2.13 m) and are designed to fit utility tractors with PTO ranging from 18 – 90 horsepower (13.4 – 67.1 kW). Determine what size cutter is right for you based on the PTO horsepower of your tractor and the width between the outside edges of the rear tires. Ideally, the working width of the cutter should be at least as wide as the distance between the outside edges of those tires so your tractor isn’t driving over material that the cutter isn’t reaching.

Always make sure the cutting blades are sharp and balanced. Blades can be removed and sharpened, but this is a specialized task and should be done by your local dealer. If blades become chipped and worn, they should be replaced. Refer to your operator’s manual for details on proper blade care and replacement.

Know the land you’re cutting. Mowing over a tree stump or large rock, or letting a tractor wheel drive into a hole are just a couple ways you could damage the cutter, the tractor, or injure yourself.

If you’re cutting very tall, thick vegetation, take the time to check your tractor’s radiator screen now and then, making sure it’s not clogged, to help prevent engine overheating.

And remember, always read the Operator’s Manual before operating any piece of equipment and follow all operating and safety instructions.

 

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collage image

Which implements should you acquire first?

To answer that question, the first thing you should do is make a list of all the jobs you need to get done around your place. Mowing pasture, or turf-type grass? Lifting, moving, and dumping material? Scraping and moving dirt? Grading or leveling land? Digging holes? Working a large garden?

Which implements are right for you depend on what you need to get done. But having said that, here’s a list of what we believe owners of large properties should have in their machine sheds to take care of the most common jobs they’ll face...

Which implements should you acquire first?

To answer that question, the first thing you should do is make a list of all the jobs you need to get done around your place. Mowing pasture, or turf-type grass? Lifting, moving, and dumping material? Scraping and moving dirt? Grading or leveling land? Digging holes? Working a large garden?

Which implements are right for you depend on what you need to get done. But having said that, here’s a list of what we believe owners of large properties should have in their machine sheds to take care of the most common jobs they’ll face.

#1 – Tractor Loader
Without a loader, you’re only getting half the productivity available from your tractor. With a loader, you can add a 4-in-1 bucket and turn your tractor into a scooping, moving, dumping machine. Add a pallet fork and you’ve got a forklift. Add a debris grapple and you can put all that woodland refuse in one, big pile. And the list goes on.

#2 – Rotary Cutter or Grooming Mower
Which is right for you? Here’s a handy rule of thumb.

  • If you’re maintaining turf grass, or any other grassy area you’d like your friends and neighbors to admire, you should probably be using a grooming mower.
  • If you’re keeping rough areas like a road edge, back lot or pasture under control, you should probably be using a rotary cutter .

 

Be advised, these mowing implements are not interchangeable. It’s important to use the one that’s right for your application. You’ll need at least one of them, may be both, because as we all know, the grass just keeps on growing.

#3 – Box Blade
A hard-working box blade with scarifiers is one of the most versatile implements you’ll ever have. Grading and leveling gravel drives. Building paths. Leveling land for a new building. Spreading dirt from where you don’t want it to where you do want it. Terracing land. Providing some rear ballast when using your loader attachments. Generally speaking, it’s one of those must have tools you’ll probably use a lot.

#4 – Rear Blade
Digging ditches. Returning gravel that’s been pushed off your gravel driveway back where it belongs. Grading and smoothing your drive. Snow removal. You’ll find plenty of work for a rear blade.

Now, which implements do people believe are also high on the list?

Land Plane
A land plane is a great tool to have in your machine shed for maintaining a gravel road or driveway, smoothing a horse arena, leveling a garden, and plenty of other uses you’ll think of.

Snowblower
If you have a long driveway up to your place, or any large area you need to keep clear of snow, there’s nothing faster or more efficient than a Tractor-Mounted Snowblower.

Post Hole Digger
Build a fence. Build a deck. Build a pole barn or machine shed. Plant trees. A shovel or post hole digging tool that’s powered with your back is no match for a post hole digger and auger powered by the PTO on your tractor.

Rotary Tiller
If a large vegetable garden is on your list of wants, you’ll want a tractor-mounted rotary tiller to prepare the soil for planting every spring, or before planting a cover crop in the fall.

Pallet Fork
Along with a bucket, a pallet fork is one of those versatile tools that can make all kinds of jobs easier around your place. Stack a load on a pallet. Strap it down. Move it all anywhere you want. Handy.

Spreader
Need to spread salt over a large area to keep the ice at bay? A polyethylene, tractor-mounted broadcast spreader is perfect for the job. Not only will it stand up to the salt, but it’s also perfect for spreading seed in the fall and fertilizer in the spring. That’s a 3-season machine, which always means more for your money.

Frontier offers more than 600 implements that will help turn your tractor into the workhorse it was built to be. They’re available exclusively from your John Deere dealer. And remember, always read the Operator’s Manual before operating any piece of equipment and follow all operating and safety instructions.

 

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Post hole digger digging in front of fence

How to build a rail fence.

Building a rail fence, or any other fence for that matter, isn’t complicated. There are a few fundamentals to follow, no matter what type of fence you want to build, or how long you want it to be. And overall, it’s a process that follows common sense every step of the way. So let’s start with a quick checklist of tasks you need to complete before you ever dig your first post hole.

Know your boundaries
The last thing you want to do is ...

How to build a rail fence.

Building a rail fence, or any other fence for that matter, isn’t complicated. There are a few fundamentals to follow, no matter what type of fence you want to build, or how long you want it to be. And overall, it’s a process that follows common sense every step of the way. So let’s start with a quick checklist of tasks you need to complete before you ever dig your first post hole.

Know your boundaries

The last thing you want to do is build your fence on your neighbor’s property. So no matter how sure you are, make sure you refer to a legal property description of your land showing the exact property line locations.

Get any needed permits

Your project may or may not need them, depending on the zoning laws of the municipality where you live. And while you’re at it, check to see if there are any zoning laws regarding height, length, style, materials, etc.

Mark any utility lines

Call 811 for Common Ground Alliance (CGA). CGA is a non-profit organization with 1,400 members and sponsors that launched the “Call Before You Dig” campaign several years ago. Call 811 and your underground utility lines will be marked for free. Be sure to mark where you intend to build your fence with white flags so the utility markers know where to focus their attention.

Sketch it out

The height and length of the rail fence will allow you to determine how many posts and rails you need. This sketch will also give you a visual reference guide to follow, which may come in handy, no matter how crude it may be.

Acquire your materials

If you’re planning a particularly long fence, you may or may not want to acquire all the materials at once. That’s up to you. But always remember, once a rail is cut, it’s cut forever. If you plan to have your fence turn any 90-degree corners, you’ll want to include specially cut corner posts to accommodate rails running in two directions.

Time to start measuring

Now you’re ready to carefully measure and mark the location for your support posts, starting with the corner posts.

Drive a heavy wooden stake into the ground a couple feet past where you want to locate each end or corner post. Tie a length of heavy twine to the corner stake 12 inches above the ground and stretch it tightly to the other end stakes. If you’re building a rather long fence, you’ll want to limit this to a manageable length, one that will allow you to stretch the string good and tight.

If you want to make sure the corner is square, use the 3-4-5 method. Place a piece of tape on one string 3 feet from the stake in one direction. Place another piece of tape 4 feet from the stake on the other piece of string. Now, measure the distance between the pieces of tape. It should be 5 feet. If it isn’t, adjust the angle until the distance between the two pieces of tape is 5 feet.

Next lay out your rails on the ground along each run, overlapping each end by 6 inches. Where the rails overlap is where you’ll dig your post holes. Mark those spots with stakes or spray paint. Mark each post hole location the same distance from the string line. About 12 inches.

The posts you’ve bought for a rail fence should already have holes cut out for the rails to fit in. Clearly mark each post 36 inches up from the bottom. You’ll use this mark to make sure you set each post the correct depth by aligning it with the string you’ve set 12 inches off the ground. This way your post will be set 24 inches deep and all the rail holes should be the same distance off the ground as well. As you begin setting your posts, add some gravel to each hole as needed to bring the depth up to 24 inches and to provide good drainage and footing for the post. 

Time to dig your post holes.

Digging post holes can either be a piece of cake or a pain in the back depending on a few variables, most notably, the type of soil you’re digging in, the number of holes you have to dig, and the tool you’ll be using to dig them.

Digging post holes by hand is hard work, even under the best conditions. If you’re only digging five or six holes in fairly soft soil, it might take you 30-45 minutes per hole to complete the job. If the soil is rocky or heavy clay, it could take longer. You might consider using a PTO powered post hole digger with auger attached to a utility tractor.

Dig your post holes at the ground marks you made earlier. Measure from the bottom of the hole up to the string that is 12 inches off the ground. Use a tamping tool to compact any loose soil at the bottom of the hole. Add gravel as necessary to make the hole 24 inches deep. In case you hit a large rock that won’t budge, you can cut up to 6 inches off of the bottom of the post, giving you 18 inches of actual depth. Posts set less than 18 inches deep, however, can’t be counted upon to be as stable as they should be.

Starting at your first corner, set the specially notched corner post upright in the hole and make sure its depth is correct and the rail holes are pointing in the right directions. Then start filling in the hole with dirt until the post becomes somewhat stable. Using a level, adjust the post until it is plumb all around. Concrete is the most dependable filling material, though 24 inches of well-compacted soil is acceptable.

Once the post is set, place the notched rails in their respective holes and make sure the holes you’ve dug for the next posts are in the right spots. Then set those posts following the same steps you used for setting the corner post. Place the notched rails in those posts, and proceed in that fashion with the rest of the fence.

And remember, always read the Operator’s Manual before operating any piece of equipment and follow all operating and safety instructions.


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tractor mowing a tall field

Restoring a pasture.

If you have some pasture land that’s looking pretty run down, it’s probably in need of a little help that Mother Nature just can’t provide. Without some maintenance, good pasture grass and other desirable vegetation can eventually succumb to weeds. Bringing that pasture back to life will require some effort and investment, but the results will be worth it in the appearance, health, forage quality, and year after year performance of the pasture.

If the pasture is still in essentially good condition, then...


Restoring a pasture.

If you have some pasture land that’s looking pretty run down, it’s probably in need of a little help that Mother Nature just can’t provide. Without some maintenance, good pasture grass and other desirable vegetation can eventually succumb to weeds. Bringing that pasture back to life will require some effort and investment, but the results will be worth it in the appearance, health, forage quality, and year after year performance of the pasture.

If the pasture is still in essentially good condition, then a simple restoration or maintenance approach is appropriate. That means addressing some fairly basic issues like fertility, weeds, and soil pH, along with planting new seed of a variety that is the same as what is already there.

On the other hand, if the pasture is essentially worn out and beset with weeds, then starting over with a complete renovation may be warranted. That means eradicating the vegetation that’s there and replacing it with new seed.

Regardless of your intended approach, take soil samples from a variety of different locations in the pasture and have them analyzed by your local county extension office. The soil test results will tell you if the pasture soil needs remediation in terms of its nutrient levels, fertility, and pH. Working with your local Soil and Water Conservation District office or your county extension service will give you the kind of information and guidance you need to remediate your pasture soil, if needed.

Restoring a still-healthy pasture.

Once you’ve tested, analyzed and improved the soil as necessary, it’s time to take the next step in restoring, or maintaining, your pasture. First, mow the pasture as low as possible. A Frontier Rotary Cutter is the tool to use. Next, it’s beneficial to disturb the sod’s surface. The idea is to upset the pasture surface just enough to provide a beneficial germination environment for new seed. The process will also promote the growth of existing vegetation.

Next, acquire and plant the new seed. A Frontier Conservation Seeder is an excellent implement for this. Available in either 5 foot or 7 foot working widths, it handles virtually any size seed, from native prairie grasses to large legumes and requires a tractor with a minimum of only 30 engine horsepower. It can also be used to apply fertilizer. Alternatively, a Frontier Broadcast Spreader or Frontier Pendular Spreader provide a great solution for larger pastures. Follow the seed provider’s directions for application rate. Once you’ve spread your new seed, go over the area with a chain or spike tooth harrow to develop good seed to soil contact.

Doing this in the early fall will promote germination and growth before the first freeze hits, which will help foster growth in the spring and plant survival in the future. Let the new pasture grow until it reaches flowering height, then mow to a height of at least 6 inches, if not higher. Let the pasture regrow to its pre-mowing height. Then allow animals to graze if that’s part of your program.

Maintenance is always key.

Once your pasture has returned to full health, it’s important to institute a good maintenance program. This is especially important for good weed control, as weeds will take over a pasture over time and you’ll be back where you started, if not worse.

Mowing the pasture with your rotary cutter twice a year will promote grass growth and help keep weeds down. You can also spot weed with an herbicide spray that is appropriate for your area, existing vegetation, and animal use. Always read and carefully follow label instructions on any chemical additive.

Soil, seed, and maintenance are the ways to a healthy pasture. And remember, always read the Operator’s Manual before operating any piece of equipment and follow all operating and safety instructions.


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Image of parts to help with spring maintenance

Time for your tractor’s spring maintenance.

An article in the March 2009 edition of Ag Connection, a publication from the University of Missouri Extension, quoted a Midwest study that showed many farmers could reduce machinery repair costs 25 percent by improving routine maintenance procedures. As an example, the study stated that an $80,000 tractor would typically require about $24,000 in repair costs during 5,000 hours of operation when receiving average maintenance. This cost could be decreased to approximately $18,000 by increasing the level of service management.

The study’s authors concluded that...


Time for your tractor’s spring maintenance.

An article in the March 2009 edition of Ag Connection, a publication from the University of Missouri Extension, quoted a Midwest study that showed many farmers could reduce machinery repair costs 25 percent by improving routine maintenance procedures. As an example, the study stated that an $80,000 tractor would typically require about $24,000 in repair costs during 5,000 hours of operation when receiving average maintenance. This cost could be decreased to approximately $18,000 by increasing the level of service management.

The study’s authors concluded that timely preventative maintenance and inspection will help identify problems when they can be corrected with relatively minor repairs, thus helping reduce major problems and downtime.

Now you might not be driving an $80,000 tractor, but the concept still applies. Whether your tractor has been used consistently, a little bit, or maybe not at all during this long, cold winter, getting it ready for spring work is important. It can save you money you’d rather not spend on repairs, and a lot of time you’d rather spend out enjoying on your property.

Always start by reviewing your operator’s manual thoroughly to make sure you consistently cover all the maintenance bases including engine, transmission, lubrication, electrical, fuel, fuel line and fuel tank. And don’t ignore the “miscellaneous” categories, either, because thorough maintenance can also mean higher resale value down the road. Talking to your John Deere Dealer about the details of a maintenance program for your tractor is also a good idea.

 

snowblower clearing snow from drive

Removing snow from a gravel drive

There is always more than one way to skin a cat, as they say, and clearing snow from your gravel driveway is no exception. Depending on the snow conditions you’re dealing with, the condition of your driveway, and the equipment you have, one solution or another will work best for you. But generally speaking, here are some tips that might help.

If you can, use a snowblower. There’s nothing like ...


Removing snow from a gravel drive

There is always more than one way to skin a cat, as they say, and clearing snow from your gravel driveway is no exception. Depending on the snow conditions you’re dealing with, the condition of your driveway, and the equipment you have, one solution or another will work best for you. But generally speaking, here are some tips that might help.

If you can, use a snowblower. There’s nothing like a tractor-powered snowblower for turning a big job into a big job done. On your gravel drive, use the skid shoes so you leave about 1 inch of snow behind. That way you’ll avoid picking up gravel that will run through your implement and be thrown into the grassy areas along your drive.

If the wind is blowing, start on the most upwind section of the driveway and set the chute deflector to discharge snow downwind.

If you’re confronted with snow that is very deep, raise the snowblower and remove a top layer of snow. Then lower the snowblower and make a second pass to remove the remaining snow.

When you’re done, make sure you clean out the auger/impeller of your snowblower before putting it away. Snow left in those areas of the machine can freeze solid, prevent the snowblower from operating properly at next start up, causing damage to the machine’s internal parts.

Read your operator’s manual thoroughly before operating your snowblower. Reviewing it as you get ready to start a new season is also a good idea.

No snowblower?

Use a rear blade. Hopefully you spent some time in late fall getting your gravel driveway ready for winter. Now the snow has fallen and it’s time to dig out.

Set your rear blade at an angle with the end nearest the center of your drive well forward of the outside edge in order to push snow away from the center and off the edge of your drive. If your rear blade has skid shoes, set them to keep the blade just above ground level.

If the snow is deeper than 10 inches, set the 3-point hitch high enough to take the top layer of snow off first. Then drop it down and take the bottom layer of snow off. Two passes at each layer should do the trick.

And remember, always read the Operator’s Manual before operating any piece of equipment and follow all operating and safety instructions.


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tractor tilling showing great garden soil

Freeing a tractor stuck in the mud

Even if you’re careful, and use good operating procedures, chances are that sometime you’ll end up with you and your tractor with an implement attached, out in the field, stuck in mud. When this happens, it’s important to take several precautions to help avoid machine damage and personal injury.

When the wheels of your tractor first start to spin, raise your attached implement and engage the differential lock, if the tractor has one. If the wet area is small and you can make it through without serious risk of getting stuck, then ...

Freeing a tractor stuck in the mud

Even if you’re careful, and use good operating procedures, chances are that sometime you’ll end up with you and your tractor with an implement attached, out in the field, stuck in mud. When this happens, it’s important to take several precautions to help avoid machine damage and personal injury.

When the wheels of your tractor first start to spin, raise your attached implement and engage the differential lock, if the tractor has one. If the wet area is small and you can make it through without serious risk of getting stuck, then continue through the area with the implement raised. Do not stop the tractor in the wet area. More traction is require

If you don’t think you can go through, stop the tractor, engage the differential lock, if the tractor has one, and raise the implement out of the ground. Next, put the tractor in reverse, and with the throttle about one-fourth open, slowly engage the clutch and try to back out of the wet spot. If this fails, stop. Continuing to spin the rear wheels will dig the tractor in deeper.

If you have tried to back out and failed, try digging the mud away from behind the front and rear wheels. Dig far enough so if you get the tractor moving in reverse, you can continue to back out and build up momentum. Place boards behind the wheels to provide a solid base, and try to back out slowly.

If all of this fails, it’s time to get another tractor to pull you out.

Pulling the stuck tractor free.

First, it may be necessary to remove the implement attached to the mired tractor. If so, disconnect any hydraulic lines and make sure they will not be run over or dragged through the mud. Connect a chain to the frame of the implement then slowly pull it from the mud with the second tractor. When pulling an implement in this way, you have limited control over its direction of travel. So move it slowly and carefully. When the implement reaches solid ground, attach the second tractor to it properly and pull the implement out of the way.

Pull the stuck tractor out backwards if possible. The tractor mired in the mud has less resistance if it’s pulled out through the same ruts already made. Always keep the pulling tractor on solid ground and use a strong chain or tow bar. Cable is not recommended. Make sure these towing devices are big enough and strong enough to handle the load. Before towing, make sure the area is clear of people and animals.

Hitch the chain from drawbar to drawbar between the tractors. Hitching higher can tip a tractor over backward when power is applied. Believe it or not, a tractor can tip completely over in less than one second. Reaction speeds are seldom quick enough to prevent this. Attaching the tow bar or chain between drawbars helps prevent damage to the either tractor and reduces the possibility of accidents. After the towing device has been pulled tight and the second tractor is pulling, put the stuck tractor in reverse to help build momentum.

After removing a tractor that has been mired deeply, inspect it thoroughly to make sure it is still in good operating condition. Wheel bolts may have worked loose, or mud may be caked on the engine or other vital areas of the tractor, all of which should be thoroughly cleaned.

And remember, always read the Operator’s Manual before operating any piece of equipment and follow all operating and safety instructions.

 

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Tools for handling all kinds of chores.