Power At Work

Make sure you have a timer on that engine heater

It can not only save on your energy costs but also reduce wear on the engine


Many of us need to start diesel tractors for routine tasks around the farm, such as livestock feeding or snow removal in colder weather.

In these conditions, there is no question about the desirability of preheating the engine block or coolant prior to starting the engine. A warm engine starts more quickly with less wear to engine components, especially when the lubricating oil is also warm. For warming oil a magnetic heater can also be attached to the oil pan.

Clean air rules improve tractor fuel performance

Tests show that some models have boosted fuel efficiency by up to 10 per cent, especially those using selective catalytic reduction technology


The high-horsepower tractor you could buy in 2010 is not the same as the high-horsepower tractor you can buy in 2011. The newest tractors have to meet Interim Tier 4 emissions regulations that drastically reduce nitrogen oxides (NOx) and particulate matter (PM) coming from tractor engines of 174 horsepower or higher. As part of the bargain many of the cleaner burning engines deliver improved fuel efficiency.

Manufacturers up the ante on tractor horsepower

High horsepower tractors with added comfort and safety features are coming on the market, promising to pull large implements at higher speeds and go faster on the road for quicker trips between farms


Tractor manufacturers have moved the horsepower curve higher and higher over the last 10 years while adding speed, safety and precision to deliver more productivity in the field and on the road.   

Mitch Kaiser, Case IH marketing manager for Steiger tractors, says he expects to see horsepower to continue to go up and, with it, speed and operator comfort.

Sit back and let the tractor do the steering

Manufacturers have yet to provide tractors that drive themselves, but that day may not be so far off


In the not-too-distant future, scientists predict that farm robots will plant, spray and even hand-pick crops. But, for now, the best we can do is sit back and let the tractor do the steering while another program measures out the seed, spray or fertilizer.

Global Positioning Systems, or GPS, have enabled precision farming in the 21st century. By guiding us over our fields, GPS keeps lines straight and eliminates overlap, which can cost time and money.

New vertical tillage tools help combat crop residue

Equipped with disks combined with fluted disks, harrows and rollers, they are designed to cut through the residue and create a sweet spot for seeds to germinate. They also help make ground more uniformly level



The modern tillage toolbox is a mixture of the old and new with the latest vertical tillage tools designed to handle the growing problem of crop residue.

Jeff Barlow farms 4,500 acres of hard clay in the Binbrook area near Hamilton. He’s been using a vertical tillage tool for the last four years to take on crop residue, to get onto the land early, to open hard ground for planting and to bust crusts that form over pre-emergent corn or soybean fields.

Saving dollars – and energy – on your electric water heater

With time-of-use billing, it’s more important than ever to program your electrical water heater and other appliances properly


Electric water heaters are used on many farms and rural properties in Ontario. The only significantly cheaper source of energy for water heating is natural gas, which is not available to most rural properties.

So let’s look at how the standard 40- or 60-gallon electrical water heaters perform their functions. An understanding is critical so that adjustment errors are not made.

Coming soon: higher emission restrictions for off-road diesel engines

Since 1996, U.S. environmental regulations have used a tier system to regulate emissions from ‘off-road’ diesel engines. Expect a new set of regulations covering carbon particulate matter and nitrous oxides in 2011


Up until 1994, “off-road” diesel engines, which include all farm diesel engines, were not regulated. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had set lower diesel emission standards under the Clean Air Act of 1970 for “on-road” diesel engines.

The Act initially regulated emissions from automobiles and then highway trucks and buses. Over the ensuing 16 years, the emission standards became increasingly more stringent, using a “tier” or stepped system.

The great leap forward in combine technology

The past 50 years has witnessed great strides in combine design. What’s ahead? Perhaps completely robotic, remote-controlled combines


Some of us older folk can remember when the objective of the combine manufacturers was to have a combine on every 100-acre farm in Ontario. These were the self-propelled units such as the Massey-Ferguson “35” and the International Harvester “91.”

They were replacing the Massey Harris “Clipper” and the Allis-Chalmers “All-Crop” series. These pull-type units crushed some crop and tied up the main farm tractor, which was usually about 35 to 50 h.p.

How best to sharpen Carbide tools

Follow the lead of the guys in machine shops and use Silicone Carbide bench grinder wheels


 Carbide bits and tools can be a bit of an annoyance for most of us ordinary home shop guys. Most of the time, when you try to sharpen a saw blade or lathe tool bit on the regular grindstone, it turns out badly or remains dull.

Regular grinder wheels just don’t work. Many lathe bits get thrown to the back of the tool box: dull and useless. I have exchanged more than one table-saw blade because the blade had chewed its way through one-too-many nails.