Farmers in far northern states, such as Montana, have to deal with weather conditions that the rest of the country may not face. The most obvious obstacle that northern farmers face is dealing with snow during the winter months. Most southern states don’t have to make any special adjustments during the winter months, but northern farmers will sometimes have equipment dedicated to moving snow away from areas of the farm. Tractors can have difficulty maintaining traction in snow, and this can cause serious accidents. A front end loader can especially have difficulty moving in snow because of the issue of balancing.
Using Grapple Jaws
Some farmers will use a front end loader with a bucket attachment to move hay. This isn’t safe during any time of the year, but it can especially be dangerous during winter. If a tractor loses traction and is also balanced incorrectly, there almost a certainty of the farmer being injured and the equipment being damaged. Using grapple jaws for moving hay is the safest option.
If a tractor loses traction in snow or on ice, braking could increase the possibility of an accident rather than prevent it. Tractors that are true four wheel drive vehicles have four wheel braking, but front wheel assist still has limited stopping ability. Just as with other vehicles, never slam on the brakes of a tractor while it has lost traction. The best thing to do is to slowly remove your foot from the accelerator and gently steer the vehicle until it can make traction again, and slowly brake. This maintains balance and control while sliding in snow.
If you’re unsure of whether your tractor is safe to use in snow, it’s best not to use it at all. But if it’s necessary to use your tractor in heavy snow, practice driving it through the snow in an open, flat area. Give yourself time to adjust to the way the vehicle handles in snow, and drive slowly through an area of the farm that does not have any obstruction or drastic changes in elevation.
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