Hydraulic equipment that is used periodically, with long periods of idleness, can quite often be prone to breakdowns. At Gerrard Hydraulics we specialise in servicing most Western Australian farming equipment, and like to keep a close eye on weather conditions in this vital industry. This year, at least, looks good, with large parts of the state’s agricultural land enjoying plentiful, but not excessive rainfall.
The Goldilocks Effect
“Not too hot, not too cold, but just right” was Goldilocks’ prescription for porridge. For Western Australian grain farmers, much the same applies to rain. As Queensland and northern NSW farmers can attest, Australian droughts are often broken by torrential rain that leads to flooding. When the drought broke in 2013 it came too late for many of our grain farmers, but since then rainfall has been plentiful.
The downpour in January set the stage for continued steady precipitation, with southern region farmers enjoying nearly 150-200mm this year, allowing some to begin seeding early. Some falls have been heavy enough to threaten seeding operations, but in general, the grain community is bullish.
Hydraulics in Seeding
Hydraulic systems feature as prominently in the machinery we use for seeding as in any aspect of farm operations, with some important developments. Seed depth control has traditionally relied upon mechanical actuation, but a few years ago the push for greater accuracy led to the introduction of hydraulic depth control. Western Australian manufacturer Ausplow is a major supplier of seeding equipment across Australia. Ausplow’s main seeding bar, the Auseeder, is made in a range of transport widths. These machines offer depth to control of seed and starter fertiliser to within 6mm, and the hydraulic tines absorb the shock which accounted for much of the wear in traditional designs. At Gerrard Hydraulics we have been supporting the Auseeder from its inception.
Common Hydraulic Problems Encountered When Seeding
Successful grain farming relies on fine judgement of the conditions, and on opportunistic timing. Once the decision to seed is made, nothing must get in the way of its completion, and a thorough check of the condition of the machinery is a must. We asked some of our customers what they look out for when it comes to seeding. Here are the top 3 concerns:
- Overheating of cooler oil. This is really bad news. Above about 800C, most seal compounds will degrade, as will most fluids used in hydraulics. A hot hydraulic system is in any case an inefficient one. Either reduce the work rate to reduce the heat load, or, if overheating persists, consult one of our technical experts for help in figuring out the cause.
- Leaking fan drive motors. It might have been fine when it was last used, but its period of idleness may have let the gremlins in.
- Hoses neglected and leaking. Hoses don’t last forever, and you should check them carefully before beginning operations.
Happy seeding – and if you’ve got any concerns about the hydraulics on your seeding machinery, give us a call here at Gerrard Hydraulics.