Fall Dragline Manure System Maintenance Reduces Risk and Extends Equipment Life
October 13, 2023
Each fall, custom applicators and dairy and hog farm operators get their dragline manure systems out of storage to pump and apply liquid manure. Pumps, agitation equipment, hoses, trailers, tank bars, and other components have been sitting in storage for months, since the spring pumping season. To make sure this equipment sees a long life, it’s vital to perform checks and maintenance before heading back into the field.
This post covers what our experts recommend looking for and prioritizing each season as you bring your equipment out of storage.
Make Fall Dragline Manure System Maintenance a Priority
For custom applicators, fall is big business—harvest season is when you do the majority of your pumping and application. If your equipment is down for maintenance during the season, you’re losing income. You need your equipment to be reliably running and flawlessly maintained to make the most of each season.
And for farmers who own your own dragline manure system, you follow a busy harvest with a must-perform manure application timeframe. You also need your equipment to be running reliably and ready when you need it.
Anyone who owns a liquid manure management system wants the equipment to last as long as possible, and routine maintenance each season is one of the best ways to extend equipment life as much as possible.
“Time between harvest and freeze is limited, and there’s a panic if equipment goes down during the season,” says John Green, Bazooka Farmstar’s Quality & Service Manager. “It’s very important that everything functions going into the big season, and the best way to do that is with regular service and maintenance.”
Let’s take a look at what liquid manure management system owners—both custom applicators and farmers—can do to prepare for the big season.
Take It on a Test Run
If you do nothing else (but you should do a lot else) take your manure dragline system out for a test run. You don’t have to haul everything to the field, but take time to turn equipment on, get things up and running, move it around a bit, check hoses for leaks, and make sure everything works as expected.
Get the trailer out to test brakes. We recommend testing emergency brakes and any other emergency stop functionality every time you get the equipment out of storage. Safety first.
A test run helps make sure that when you’re ready to get into the field, your equipment is, too. There’s nothing worse than getting ready to pump and discovering that something needs lubricated or tightened.
Check Dragline Equipment for Wear and Tear
Ideally, you do more than just a high-level test run. We recommend testing various components of the system to make sure they’re ready to perform. The equipment has been sitting in storage for several months, which means fluids dry up, filters may falter, and critters may crawl.
Depending on how much cleaning and maintenance you did at the end of the spring season, your needs ahead of fall will vary. Regardless, Green says, “It’s bad business to ignore this stuff.”
Here are regular service and maintenance priorities we recommend checking every season—or more.
Check and Replace Fluids
After a piece of equipment has been sitting unused for a few months, it’s important to check fluid levels and quality. We recommend checking any fluid needed to run the equipment:
- Engine fluids
These should each be checked for quality and, if needed, topped off or changed. This small but important piece of fall dragline manure system maintenance can extend the life of your liquid manure management equipment.
Lubricate Moving Parts
Moving parts are another area of large equipment that need some attention after sitting idle for months. Dust and debris can find their way into nooks and crannies, and lubrication can dry out. We recommend checking your equipment’s moving parts—bearings, levers, handles, lifts, anything mechanical, even door hinges—to make sure they work as expected.
If they don’t? Now’s the time to add lubrication, before you’re out in the field.
For lubrication schedules and other maintenance for your Bazooka Farmstar equipment, scan the QR code on your equipment or contact your dealer or Bazooka Farmstar Service & Support.
While you’re checking fluids, you should also check filters. Our team recommends grabbing a marker and writing dates on each filter—when was it installed and what’s the expected replacement date.
“I’ve seen equipment fail because of not changing filters,” said Green. “An inexpensive part versus something breaking down should be an easy choice.”
Even if a filter isn’t to its expected replacement date yet, it’s important to check them before the fall season because it could need to be replaced early.
Filters are another piece of maintenance to check your owner manual for parts and frequency.
Perform Routine Maintenance Ahead of Pumping and Application
There’s nothing worse than getting into the field and only then realizing something doesn’t work quite right. We recommend performing routine maintenance at the beginning and end (and in the middle, if needed) of each manure season to keep your equipment running its best.
A few high-priority checks we recommend include:
- Check all hoses for wear, tear, and especially leaks
- Look at all hydraulic lines—these can dry out when in storage
- Tighten any fittings that seem to have loosened since last season
- Look inside nook and crannies for evidence of rodents; we’ve seen enough bird nests in engine intakes to make this a permanent checklist item
- Adjust tire pressure to the ideal range
- Lube the hubs for the axles regularly
- Check seals for signs of leaks
In addition to these equipment checks, we recommend a few safety-focused checks ahead of getting into the field.
- Test any emergency brake and stop functions to make sure they work
- Check the integrity of safety chains
- Review safety stickers for additional information
Pre-season maintenance should have you in good shape for the pumping season, but parts do sometimes need to be replaced during the heat of pumping. For parts that need to be replaced often—and can make or break your pumping timeline—we recommend ordering ahead and keeping some in stock.
We recommend keeping common wear parts that are relatively low-cost but could shut down an operation—e.g., bearings, seals, filters, and belts—at the ready.
If something happens and you don’t have a part on hand, you can always reach out to your dealer, but that puts timing out of your control.
Maintenance Frequency Depends on Usage
Pre-season maintenance is a no-brainer, but once equipment is in the field, maintenance requirements depend on how often and how hard it’s being used.
For example, a farmer pumping 10 million gallons and applying at 2-3 miles per hour may be able to do maintenance before heading into the field and again after, with just the specific frequent-maintenance items (i.e., daily greasing and weekly fluid levels checks) from the operators manual in between.
Custom applicators, on the other hand, run liquid manure equipment hard for the whole season. Time is of the essence, and any downtime is costly. Running the equipment daily for the entire pumping season has impacts on the speed of wear and tear. Maintenance and repair become that much more important to keeping equipment up and running.
Review your operations and maintenance manual for recommendations and take the time to do preventive maintenance and repairs to stay in the field. For example, running a hydraulic filter more than the recommended number of hours can result in costly (and time-consuming) damage to critical hydraulic components. Pausing to replace filters, add lubrication, check bearings, and more can keep applicators in the field all season.
Take Care of Equipment Before Storing It
Everything we’ve discussed here applies at the end of the season as well. The more you care for your equipment before putting it into storage, the more you can extend the life of individual parts and the equipment as a whole.
Before storing liquid manure management equipment after the fall pumping season, go through the items above and make sure the equipment and its moving parts are clean.
These small steps can save big money and lots of time. Bazooka Farmstar equipment is built to last through the hard work of manure management, but a long life relies on routine care.
Bazooka Farmstar Manure Equipment Maintenance Resources
If you need help establishing a repair and maintenance schedule, refer to your operation and maintenance manual, accessible via QR code on your equipment. If you have trouble accessing the manual, reach out to your dealer or to the Bazooka Farmstar team.
Some liquid manure management equipment owners prefer to do maintenance and repair themselves while others prefer to partner with dealers for this work. Either way, these steps are important year round and especially at the beginning of each pumping season.
Questions about routine maintenance? Contact our Service & Support team.