There’s no better time than spring to start thinking about ways to maximize the power and performance of your farm’s tractors and save fuel. Before you get onto the fields, here are seven ways to get the most from your tractors.

Make maintenance a priority. Diligent maintenance can boost performance and fuel efficiency. Clean dust and debris from radiator screens. Over time, dust can reduce the airflow needed to cool the radiator, resulting in excessive heat that can damage the engine and decrease performance. Replace dirty air and fuel filters regularly. Studies have shown that replacing  filters can result in an immediate 3.5 percent increase in engine power output.

Limit idle time. Limit unnecessary idling to save fuel. Three to five minutes of idling time may be sufficient to properly circulate cooling oil. Consult your operator’s manual for details.

Gear up and throttle down (GUTD). GUTD is a fuel-saving practice that’s used when the load pulled requires less than 70 percent of the tractor’s power. Farmers can save fuel by shifting to a higher gear and slowing the engine speed (rpm) to maintain the desired speed. 

Check tire pressure often. Inflation pressure, tire sizes, load ratings and the number of tires all play a role in tractor performance. To ensure tires are adjusted correctly, conduct regular inspection. Signs of uneven or premature wear are often related to improperly inflated tires. An overinflated tire tends to ride on the center of the tire, which can wear out the tread. An underinflated tire can make the sidewall more susceptible to cracking. Consult your owner’s manual for load inflation tables to determine the optimum inflation for the number and size of tires you use. Experts recommend operating at the lowest allowable pressure.

Calculator and adjust ballasting. According to Extension.org, “Tractor ballasting influences the efficiency and energy use of tractor operation. Ballasting determines the amount of slip in any given field condition, affecting fuel consumption, field operation time and tire wear.” Your operator’s manual can help determine the total ballasted weight for your tractor.

Service fuel injectors. Dirty fuel injectors can cause inefficient combustion and loss of power. If you see black smoke coming from the exhaust, clean the injectors. To help keep fuel injectors clean during the season, Cenex Ruby Fieldmaster® Premium Diesel Fuel includes a special additive package that prevents injector fouling in engines purchased in 2007 or later. Compared to untreated #2 diesel, Ruby Fieldmaster improves fuel economy by as much as 5 percent and increases engine power by up to 4.5 percent.

Use quality products. Quality oils, lubricants and fuel can help increase performance and fuel efficiency, while extending engine life. Cenex offers engine oils, hydraulic fluids, gear lubricants and greases specifically formulated for use in tractors and other agricultural equipment.

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