PHOTO: Daniel Johnson
If you live in an area of the country that receives significant winter snowfall, then you know the feeling of excitement when the snow thaws and you can finally move forward with spring farming tasks.
As much as anything, you’re probably excited to fire up your tractor for the year. As soon as you get your tractor ready for a new season, here are five tasks you should tackle right away this spring.
Read about the 13 items you need on your annual tractor maintenance checklist.
1. Clean Up Branches & Trees
Every spring, one of the first tasks I tackle with my tractor is cleaning up the many branches (and even entire trees) felled by winter snow and ice storms.
As soon as the ground is dry enough to drive around, I’m out and about with a tractor and wagon, loading up debris and hauling it away.
You can reduce most branches to manageable size with pruning loppers and a chainsaw. But I let the tractor’s front-end loader handle the largest branches and trunk sections.
2. Control Erosion
Spring is the perfect time to evaluate and control erosion on your farm, since abundant meltwater will accentuate areas where mini-rivers erode the ground and cause issues.
Maybe the path to the barn (grassy once upon a time) wore down to bare dirt, which is now turning to mud and washing down a slope.
A tractor can be used to regrade problem spots, dig drainage ditches, fill low spots and/or lay down gravel—whatever you need to get the erosion under control.
Living on a hill means dealing with erosion. Here’s what you can do.
3. Add Compost to Garden Beds
Looking to expand your garden this year, or refresh worn-out beds? Adding compost can work wonders for the vim and vigor of your vegetables, and your tractor can play a big part in associated tasks.
Use your front-end loader to take big scoops out of your compost pile. Then, if your garden is open enough, you can drive your tractor to each garden bed and dump the compost exactly where it’s needed.
Otherwise, you can dump the compost into a smaller, more maneuverable wagon or yard cart and shovel it by hand into each bed.
4. Clear Boulders & Stumps From Fields
When spring arrives, I relish the brief window of time before grass starts growing again, when everything is crushed flat from the weight of winter snow and you can really analyze the lay of the land.
These conditions make it easy to spot rocks, boulders, tree stumps and other obstacles that might otherwise by hidden from view by tall grass.
If you’re hoping to improve a rocky field for cultivation (or even just remove those few mostly-buried boulders you always strike with the lawn mower), spring is the perfect time to give your tractor’s backhoe attachment a workout.
5. Repair Fences
Every spring, I load up my trusty red wagon with all the tools and supplies I need for repairing fences. I start driving up and down each fence line, looking for damage that may have occurred during winter.
In this case, the tractor is more of a vehicle for pulling a heavy wagon of fence posts and tools. But once in a while the tractor takes on a more active role—such as the time I pulled a stubborn fence post straight out of the ground using the three-point hitch.
I wish you a happy and productive spring!