It’s going to be 200C today in Regina – it’s still just mid-April and the weather could change on a dime, but the reality is seeding is just around the corner. Getting everything ready and having it operate smoothly for what is a short but intense time frame is critical to the success of the crop.

We talked with Rogan Milatz, a design engineer with Dutch Openers at Pilot Butte, Saskatchewan. He also farms at Stoughton, Saskatchewan. “The best piece of advice I can give any farmer is to take their equipment to the field and do a dry run with it as soon as possible,” says Milatz. “Just going through the motions without product in the tank will allow you to identify most problems, and remind you of all the little tweaks you usually end up making in the field at the last minute.”

Milatz has developed a checklist for air drills to help focus in on those things that tend to deteriorate during storage.

  • Check for cracked hydraulic hoses; check those areas where those hoses rub and replace any worn components.
  • If you use pneumatic packer tires, ensure your spares are filled to the right PSI and you have enough spares on hand.
  • Check for worn or missing opener tips, loose hoses and bolts, and tubes that have rusted through due to moisture/fertilizer residues.
  • Check all primary and secondary hoses for wear.
  • Ensure there is no rust in the manifolds as this could plug the outlets, hoses, or openers.
  • Ensure manifolds are intact and have no holes.
  • Check the level of the drill for accurate and consistent seed placement.
  • Calibrate the metering system.
  • Test for adequate airflow. Milatz recommends removing the hose from the opener and pointing it up in the air. Seed and fertilizer should shoot upwards into the air approximately 12 inches.
  • All seals on the air cart lids and at the manifolds should be in place and in good condition.
  • Prevent fertilizer lumps by mounting a screen at the fill auger. This will prevent plugging.
  • Test all electronics and communications on the air drill and between the air drill and tractor. It can take time to diagnose problems, so get this done well before going to the field.
  • Tighten all linkages that have bushings. In most cases, the bushing is slightly longer than the part it goes through, so the nut should be torqued so that the bolt and bushing never move. If they are not torqued adequately, bolt holes can become egged out, resulting in thin, worn bolts and could cause a loose, unsafe machine that can be costly to repair.
  • Grease everything, including hubs with no grease zerk/nipple. In the case of a grease zerk/nipple, remove the dust cap, insert a grease needle between rollers on bearing and pump grease in until it comes through the bearing from the inside out. This will provide years of trouble-free service.
  • While greasing the hubs and the dust cap is off, take the weight off the wheel and check the bearings are tightened properly.

“Equipment comes with maintenance lists, logs, and recommended service intervals,” says Milatz. “The best way to avoid having to foot costly repairs is always to have a rigorous preventative maintenance plan in place.”

Check out Dutch Openers blog at for more useful information for your farm.