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Snow weapons

02/28/2011 @ 11:35am

Once the snow comes, it piles up until the weather gets warmer. Digging out can be a challenge. Here are four tipsr keeping slick spots at a minimum and maneuverability easier on the farmstead.

1. Try A Hydraulic Snowblower

A snowblower attachment for a utility tractor is a useful tool. But when the snow is too deep, the auger may not be able to keep up. John Deere product manager Dan Paschke says typically when you put a snowblower on the front of the loader, you've lost the ability to drive it with the PTO shaft because you need the range of movement. But John Deere has come out with what they call a hydraulic power pack, which is mounted to a tractor's three-point hitch.

The snowblower is attached to the front loader like other quick-change attachments, but you will also have to hook up the power pack and run the hoses.

The snowblower comes in a couple of sizes — the largest one measures 76 inches across. Paschke says it has a unique feature called a variable-speed auger that comes in handy when you're working in heavy snow.

“The tractor's PTO drives a separate hydraulic system, and you have a set of hoses that run from the back of the tractor up to the front of the loader where the snowblower is,” he says. “So you engage the tractor's PTO, it runs the hydraulic pump, and that hydraulic oil moves up to the front of the tractor and actually drives the snowblower's auger and fan.”

2. Attach Snow Blades

If you're in the market to add a snow blade to your tractor, there are a couple of options to consider. The biggest variable in getting the job done quickly is the size of the tractor. The heavier the tractor, the more plowing power you'll have. Paschke recommends 4-foot equipment for a small chassis, a 5-foot blade (or push) for a midsize chassis, and a larger chassis can handle 6-, or even 7-foot equipment on the front of it.

A snow push is a newer way to shove the snow around. It's basically a blade with sidewalls. It was first used for larger applications like airports and parking lots, but they are now manufactured for utility tractors.

“If a customer already has a front-end loader, the snow push might be an easier way to go, because you can just pop off your loader bucket. Most compact tractor loaders have quick-attach buckets so installation doesn't require any tools,” explains Paschke.

3. Use A Spreader To Lay Salt

A spreader makes a great tool for getting the salt down quickly. Your equipment will last longer if the hopper lining is some sort of plastic material rather than metal. Be conscientious, however, about keeping the spreader clean from salt to prevent rust.

If your spreader hopper is metal, rinse it out with water, dry it, and get it inside for storage as soon as you're done. Salt is very corrosive if it remains in contact with metal.

4. Put Up A Snow Fence

Preventing snow from drifting can help alleviate the need to move it. Iowa State University Extension ag engineer Greg Brenneman says a proper snow fence is about half solid and half open. This lets most of the snow through the fence but slows the wind, which allows for maximum snow trapping. The best materials include wood picket and flexible mesh-like plastics.

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