Derek Casey has some timely plough set-up tips ahead of spring cultivation work
1 Tyre pressures
Good ploughing starts with the tractor. Tyre pressures shouldn't be too high as this can cause wheel slip. For better performance, reduce rear pressures to around 22psi and front pressures to around 18psi.
2 Lower linkages
Measure the tractor's lower linkages. Are they both the same length? This is crucial for even ploughing and to avoid excess stress on any given side.
It is a similar case for the tractor's lift arm stabilisers; they should always have a little play to work with as if they are too tight, the plough will not be able to ebb and flow with the lay of the land, allowing the plough to bully the tractor.
4 Top link
Arguably one of the most important settings for effective ploughing. Stand back and look at the angle of the top link. Project an imaginary line coming off the top link angle; if the angle is correct, the line should meet the tractor's front axle at the hub. This will ensure best tractive performance.
5 Cross shaft adjustment
The cross shaft is something that all plough manufacturers constantly preach about getting right. The width of the cross shaft can be widened or shortened depending on the tractor and that will govern how well the plough follows the tractor in the field.
6 Reset pressures
Wearing parts on a plough need to be checked before starting. Points are expected to be good for on average 350-400 acres. On modern ploughs, each plough leg uses a hydraulic reset protection mechanism which kicks in when large stones are met, for example. The pressure of the reset can be adjusted according to the ground type.
7 Turnover angle
The turnover angle on a reversible should be as close to 90° as you can get it. The upper part of the plough should form a 90° angle with the ground, or as close to 90° as you can set it.
The skimmers are best adjusted to work to about 30pc of the plough depth. This is easily done, with some ploughs now using pins to adjust so no tools are required
9 Spools and hydraulics
To avoid costly repairs, be sure to check there is adequate length on the hydraulic hoses. Too short and they will come under pressure, while too long and they can snag on the headstock or on the ground during transport.
Keep an eye on the pivot points and hydraulic kickback legs to ensure their grease points get ample grease every couple of days during times of heavy use.