You don't have to walk far these days to see the power of hydraulic systems and hoses in action.
Every time you pull or push a spool valve on your tractor, oil is rapidly pumped in one direction or another in a bid to carry out work. Maintaining oil pressure keeps your loader in the air.
It allows our tractor transmissions, balers, silage mowers and diet feeders to do the jobs they do. Without safe and modern hydraulic systems farmers would be back in the old times, output would be crippled and manual labour costs would rocket.
But while the benefits are undisputed, hydraulic systems used on modern farm machinery must be treated with the utmost respect, because they have the capacity to cause serious injury. Due to the high pressure of the system, what may initially start as a minor leak can quickly become a dangerous problem. Hydraulic hose pipes age from weather, and over time they can crack.
They should be carefully checked regularly for cracks or signs of ageing and replaced if necessary. The key for a high safety standard lies in establishing a good preventative maintenance programme. The high temperatures and pressures associated with hydraulics make hose and fitting maintenance and selection critical, so make sure you get any leaks seen to immediately.
Pressurised oil, even a small amount escaping from a pin-sized hole, can easily puncture the skin. You should never touch a pressurised hydraulic hose assembly by hand; if you are looking for potential leaks always use something like a piece of cardboard to find the hole.
A common problem is that farmers tend to mix and match couplings from one manufacturer with hoses from another. This can lead to premature assembly failure and leaks. It is better to stick with the same manufacturer so components last longer and are safer.
Tips for hydraulic hosing: