A loader is just one of many types of tractors that is equipped with a wide, square bucket in front. This bucket is attached to the tractor by a pair of arms. You can use a tractor loader for a wide variety of jobs, including scooping and moving gravel, dirt, sand, manure and the like. With the right techniques, it can also be used for digging.
In this article, we’ll discuss what can you do with a tractor loader and provide sound recommendations for safe operation of this useful equipment. Read on to learn more.
What You'll Learn Today
- Moving & Carrying With A Tractor Loader
- Digging With A Tractor Loader
- Grade Surfaces With A Tractor Loader
- Practice Good Work Habits For Complete Tractor Loader Safety
- Heed Safety Precautions!
Moving & Carrying With A Tractor Loader
Moving materials is the most common use of a tractor loader. You can move all manner of materials around the farm or on the job site. In this video, the presenter gives excellent, detailed instructions on moving and working with a tractor loader.
Using A Tractor And A Loader
Many farmers use a tractor loader to move round bales of hay. It’s important to exercise extreme caution when using your loader for this purpose.
A round bale is quite likely to roll. It can roll out of the loader causing damage and/or injury around the machine. It can also roll backwards onto the tractor and crush the driver.
This publication from ATM provides detailed instructions on moving hay.
Digging With A Tractor Loader
In addition to carrying, a front end loader can also be used for digging. This is not easy, but it can be done as long as you use the right techniques. Take care not to make the mistake of angling the bucket in a forward position and attempting to use it as a scoop.
Making this mistake puts a lot of stress on your drive train, and it will also cause a loss of traction and may even cause a loss of the entire load. Instead of scooping, you should skim. To do this, maintain the bucket at a level orientation and lift straight up.
Instead of forcing the bucket into the dirt, which can cause damage, wiggle the edge of it gently to get underneath the load. If the surface you are working with is crested over and tough to break up, try tapping it with the corner of the bucket.
Just think of digging with a front end loader as peeling the dirt away. Instead of lifting up large amounts of dirt all at once, you’ll simply scrape away layer after layer.
Grade Surfaces With A Tractor Loader
You can also use your front end loader for grading if you are patient. You’ll need to move along slowly, working in increments. You’ll find it necessary to make numerous corrections and many passes. Work in half bucket width passes making sure that each pass is level with the existing grade.
Remember to back drag the entire time you’re doing your grading job. Back dragging provides a smoother finish.
If your grading job also involves moving materials (e.g. gravel, sand or dirt) take limited loads and place your materials carefully. Compact the materials by wheel rolling over them.
Practice Good Work Habits For Complete Tractor Loader Safety
As with all heavy machinery, safety if of the utmost importance when using a tractor loader. If you have a new tractor loader, be sure that you study the manual instructions carefully and that you receive proper training in its use.
Not only is improper use of a tractor quite dangerous, it also causes an excessive amount of wear and tear on the machine.
Follow these operating tips to use your front end loader safely and efficiently with the minimum wear and damage to the machinery.
1. Be alert!
When you have a load in your front end loader bucket, you’ll attain the best visibility and stability by positioning the bucket so that it is just slightly below the hood of the tractor. Whenever you raise or lower the load, be sure to scan the area carefully for anything that might get in your way.
Look high and low for objects that might interfere with your progress. These include:
- Overhead wires
- Undercut edges
- Power lines
2. Make sure you are on solid ground
Familiarize yourself with the area where you will be working. Check to be sure that the ground you are on is stable before lifting. An uneven surface can cause you to tip over while lifting, even if you are at a standstill.
If you think the ground may be unstable, be sure to place a platform beneath the rear wheels along with stabilizers.
3. Load carefully
Make sure that the bucket is evenly loaded and that you do not exceed the recommended load capacity. Overloading can cause the contents of the bucket to spill out onto the hood of the tractor. This can cause damage and/or injury.
4. Proceed with caution
Always move along slowly and carefully with your load carried in the lowest possible safe position. It is quite dangerous to move your front end loader with the bucket raised. Keeping the bucket at a lowered level gives the machine a lower center of gravity. This is especially important if you are working on a slope.
5. Turn slowly
Move along especially slowly and carefully when you need to turn. Whenever you turn, you run the risk of having your load slide or shift. When this happens, you risk overturning.
6. Use your loader as it’s intended
Remember that you should never use your front end loader to knock something over or to tow anything. It is possible to use a front end loader to pull stranded equipment out of mud or snow, but it’s a complex and risky business as this resource explains.
Heed Safety Precautions!
The bucket should never be used as a platform, and people should be prevented from working or walking beneath it when it is raised. It goes without saying you should never carry people or any other living thing (with the exception of a downed cow) in the bucket of a front end loader.
Always operate your front end loader in a seated, strapped in position. Dress safely and correctly with eye and hearing protection long pants and sleeves and sturdy, safe, non-slip footwear.