CPCS A33 Agricultural Tractor Course

1. Introduction

Tractors are crucial to modern farming and can be found in use throughout the year. They are also versatile machines, available in many configurations to match individual needs. Subsequently, they are involved in a significant number of accidents and incidents. This course will result in a safer, more skilful work force operating with tractors.

At the end of the course, successful candidates will be able to safely operate the machine and its attachments, confidently undertake daily and weekly maintenance checks and make adjustments as required, understand the causes of instability of the machine and load and know how to prevent them, carry out a risk assessment and stay within the law with regards to Health & Safety.

Welcome to the CPCS A33 Agricultural Tractor Course. This course is designed to provide candidates with a thorough understanding of the construction and operating principles of agricultural tractors, as well as an understanding of the regulations and safety guidelines essential for their use. Theoretical and practical knowledge and skill assessment are included. Full support and training is provided with the aim of meeting the specific needs of individual candidates.

1.1. Course Overview

The Agricultural Tractor course is aimed at experienced operators, those who have received informal training or those who have operated tractors/vehicles in the past, but have received no formal instruction. It is also suitable for those requiring refresher training. The aim of the course is to enable the candidates to understand the construction, capabilities and limitations of the tractor and the implements that it can use. Candidates must be over 16 years of age and hold, or have held, a driving licence for a vehicle used on the road. The course will also prepare candidates for the National Proficiency Tests Council (NPTC) assessment which consists of a theory test, and a practical test covering a wide variety of activities using tractors and mounted or trailed equipment. The course is based upon the NPTC syllabus, but is not limited to this. The theoretical content will be delivered at our MPTC, where there are classroom facilities. Sufficient practical training and instruction will take place at the candidate’s place of work or close to the location of the NPTC assessment, near Tiverton, as this is where the majority of the assessment will take place.

1.2. Importance of Agricultural Tractors

Another importance of tractors on today’s farms is their capabilities of materials handling. From using a front loader attachment for mucking out and scraping, to a rear-mounted forklift for transporting goods and pallets. These can save a farmer countless man-hours of manual labour, and the tasks are often less strenuous. At harvest time, a tractor and trailer can provide an efficient method of moving harvested crops from field to farm. All of these methods avoid awkward and heavy lifting work for farm staff and reduce the likelihood of back injury.

Using a tractor for cultivation work can bring about vast benefits when compared to using older methods or hiring a contractor. With a modern compact tractor being capable of producing 40hp and more, it is more than adequate for running a set of discs or tines and can save a farmer a significant amount of time when compared to using a horse-drawn implement. This, in turn, improves the timeliness of cultivations and can protect organic matter levels of soil, as there is less likelihood of working the ground when it is too wet. Any ploughing or cultivation work in wet conditions will also leave ruts in the field, which is highly damaging for future crops.

Modern tractors have an extremely high importance in today’s agriculture and can be used to do various tasks around the farm. Some of these include: ploughing, rotovating, drilling, cultivation, fertiliser spreading, and harvesting (by using a trailer). All of these tasks save time and vastly improve the output of work when compared to using manual methods or horses. For example, a modern tractor and 3m combination drill is capable of drilling around 12-15 acres of cereals in a day. Compare this to broadcasting by hand, which would take around twice as long and also be less accurate.

1.3. Course Objectives

Understand Environmental and Health and Safety Legislation.

Know how to clean down your tractor, carry out required maintenance and store/implement.

Accomplish all tasks with due regard to personal and public safety.

Carry out the task in hand, to include PTO and hydraulic systems, effectively and maintain constant power and reduce downtime to a minimum.

Change/implement and maintain travel path and reduce compaction.

Maneuver safely in confined areas with/without an implement.

Understand RTV and safe stop procedure.

Know what gear, speeds and appropriate working revs for the implement being used.

Start and stop the tractor and engine.

Understand all instruments and controls to include tractors fitted with 2-D and 4-D modern control systems.

Conduct all pre-operational and running checks.

Understand the basic construction of an agricultural tractor and maintenance planning.

To be able to operate and maintain an agricultural tractor safely and effectively in accordance with the approved methods of the manufacturers and good practice.

2. Tractor Basics

A tractor is an engineering vehicle specifically designed to deliver a high tractive effort (or torque) at slow speeds, for the purposes of hauling a trailer or machinery used in agriculture or construction. Most commonly, the term is used to describe a farm vehicle that provides the power and traction to mechanize agricultural tasks, especially (and originally) tillage. As mentioned in the previous module, tractors are the highest cause of agricultural deaths and serious injury and produce the third highest cause of injury in the agriculture sector. It is essential that you carry out your pre-operational checks for your tractor and implement thoroughly and systematically. Always ensure that your tractor is maintained in a safe condition. This will greatly reduce the risk of mechanical failure that could cause an accident or injury. This is vital as more recently, maintenance-related accidents are occurring due to lack of knowledge, misuse of machine, and parts not being replaced when needed in order to prevent a potential danger situation. An example of poor knowledge/misuse would be replacing a nut and bolt with anything available to hand rather than the correct part. This would be a misuse and a potential danger situation as the wrong part could shear off at any time. A dangerous situation involving this: a mower conditioner lost a wheel due to the drive shaft being incorrectly attached, leading to damage of the tractor and implement. This occurrence could have caused loss of control, the tractor could have been overturned, or other road users could have been injured. High ground speeds are associated with many tractor accidents, so wherever possible, reduce travel speed and avoid unnecessary road travel. It is important that a risk assessment is carried out for all tasks that involve tractor work, identifying the hazards and using this information to decide the best way to manage the health and safety risks.

Understanding the characteristics of commonly used tractors and their implements. Identifies and defines the key components of the tractor. Describes the different types of tractors. Identifies the safety measures that should be undertaken when using tractors and tractor implements.

2.1. Understanding Tractor Components

Safety features are an important part of tractor components and should never be overlooked by its user.

A roll over protection structure (ROPS) is a structure specifically designed for tractors to protect the operator if a roll over accident occurs. This protected area maintains a survival space and absorbs the energy of a roll over and provides a place for mounting a seat belt. A ROPS is usually a bolted-on optional feature, often on smaller tractors, whereas a larger tractor would have a ROPS built similar to that of a roll cage in a vehicle and in some cases including reinforcement all the way down to the floor, which is known as a cabin. A cabin will provide an extra layer of protection from weather and hazards with additional comfort and is suitable for an enclosed hydraulic system for air conditioning.

Over time, tractors have become large, powerful, and productive. Much of this evolution can be credited to advancements in the hydraulic system. Modern tractors have a diesel ignition system where the driver turns the key to let an electric starter motor turn the engine over, while the fuel injectors inject a mist of fuel to be compressed and ignited. Diesel engines are much more efficient than petrol engines and are most often found in today’s tractors because they can produce a greater amount of torque, which could not be matched by a petrol engine with the same horsepower.

The hydraulic system on a tractor is a convenient system used to multiply the work by using the power of fluid to create a simplified way for adjusting the output force, which in turn moves the cylinder and does the lifting for you. It is a rather complex system that is often times one of the least understood areas of a tractor. “Power Master For Today’s Toughest Tractors” is the power slogan used by the companies that produce parts and accessories, detailing how the hi-tech tractor has put a greater demand on the hydraulic system.

The three-point hitch consists of three attachment points used to move and attach ploughs or other farm implements to an agricultural tractor. The three points resemble either a triangle or the letter A. Hitches are divided into several categories, the most notable ones are Category I and Category II hitches, delivering lift capacities most suited for small agricultural tractors.

2.2. Types of Agricultural Tractors

Orchard climb tractors are another variation of field tractors, specifically designed to work on sloping ground, usually around orchard trees. In the case of modern orchard climb tractors, the vehicles are often articulated in the center to allow independent wheel movement. This helps them follow the contours of the slope and maintain equal traction on both sets of wheels. This process is known as equal wheel drive. It is also seen in modern prime movers that utilize four-wheel drive and, in some cases, four-wheel steering to achieve the same effect.

Row crop tractors are also field tractors but are specifically designed to work between rows of crops with minimal damage to the crop. This is achieved by having significantly adjustable wheel track width and ground clearance. It allows the tractor to easily pass from one row of crops to the next. These tractors are designed to concentrate the vehicle’s weight along a central path, often using dual wheels to spread the load.

There are three main types of agricultural tractors: prime movers, row crop tractors, and orchard climb tractors. They are generally characterized by the tasks they perform and the area in which they perform those tasks. Prime movers are field tractors used only to provide power and traction for implements. They are usually either two or four-wheel drive, with large tires to maximize traction.

2.3. Tractor Safety Measures

Objectively, safety begins before the tractor is in use, ensuring the tractor selected is suitable for the work that is to be undertaken. Although this seems a trivial point, using a large and more powerful tractor than is needed can cause control issues in more confined areas and should mechanical error occur, increase the severity of an accident. This should be complemented by the readjustment of tools and accessories that may already be attached to the tractor that can jeopardize its stability. These will have recommended horsepower guidelines for safe use and it is advised that the tractor does not exceed this.

In this section, the tractor safety measures are considered in some detail. This is a critical area for consideration for all users and it is worth considering that no matter how well you think you know your tractor, it only takes something small to start an accident. It should also be noted that a mechanically sound tractor in no way means it is safe to operate.

3. Tractor Operation

Starting and stopping the method may appear easy; strolling to the tractor and moving into the seat are things we do time and again. Mistakes made within the preparation stage in this manner may result in early failure of new machines and bring about loss of productivity. This unit will cope with pre-begin assessments as well providing the operator with knowledge of the controls and gaining knowledge of the method of starting and stopping tractors accurately. Steering and maneuvering the method is once more something the majority will feel comfortable with, it is a method replicated from using a vehicle. However, again errors made here can also adversely affect safety and performance. When moving into the shifting gears and speed control technique we start to recognize that there are skills that have to be achieved if you want to competently carry out these simple operations. Finally we can focus on the use of tractor attachments. This is a huge area with many differing attachments, it is listed separately within the skills training phase of the course.

3.1. Starting and Stopping Procedures

When starting and stopping the tractor, it is advised that special attention is paid because the majority of tractor accidents occur at these times. Pre-start checks should be carried out as outlined in COSHH. If the tractor is to be left unattended for a while, it should be stopped on a level surface, handbrake applied, controls in neutral, engine off, and keys removed. Before starting the tractor, it should be ensured that the PTO master switch is off and that the PTO speed control lever is in the stop position. The brake pedal should be fully depressed or the handbrake fully applied. Now the tractor can be started according to the manufacturer’s instructions. It is important that the area around the tractor is checked before moving off to ensure that no one will be endangered. When the tractor is moving off from cold, it should be allowed to warm up slightly before there is any hard usage. When starting a tractor with a roll-start engine, ensure care is taken and use the “H” gear because use of higher gears can cause personal injury. The tractor should not be left unattended while the engine is running. When stopping the tractor, lower hydraulic equipment to the ground and engage the handbrake. If the tractor is to be left for more than a moment, select neutral and switch off the engine. When stopping on a slope, the wheels should be chocked and the handbrake applied. An operator should never jump off a moving tractor to carry out tasks. Only start tasks when the tractor is at a complete stop and the parking brake is engaged. Complete the tasks in close proximity and then move the tractor to a safe location before dismounting or starting another task.

3.2. Steering and Maneuvering Techniques

Steering is done by turning the steering wheel in the direction you want to go. However, it is not as simple as that. The tractor will pivot around the rear wheels if the brakes are not applied. This can cause damage to the ground and ruts to form if the ground is soft. The front wheels can be braked using the left foot pedal to help change the direction of travel without pivoting the tractor. This is particularly useful when using a front loader. Use of the brakes to slow the tractor will also reduce wear and tear on the transmission and is good practice. When reversing, turning the steering wheel will cause the tractor to turn in the opposite direction. This can be confusing at first, but with practice, it will become natural. Take care to look behind you when reversing. Sometimes it is safer to drive in a circle to prevent any obstacles becoming a hazard. In tight areas, it may be necessary to lift a trailed implement in order to turn it sharply without jackknifing. Some tractors have a ‘diff lock’ control which will lock the rear differential and force both rear wheels to turn at the same speed. This is useful for increasing traction in slippery conditions. However, it should be used sparingly on firm ground when turning to avoid scuffing the tires. A differential that is locked for long periods on firm ground will cause the tires to wear unevenly on the inside.

3.3. Shifting Gears and Speed Control

Due to the complexity of double clutching, today’s synchronized shuttle clutches are common among tractors. It is still important for operators to know how the double clutching process works and when it is beneficial, for example when going downhill with a heavy load.

To shift gears using double clutching, the following technique must be used: 1. Depress the clutch and brake pedals. 2. Shift the shift lever to the desired gear. 3. Release the clutch pedal slowly while depressing the brake pedal. This will allow the gears in the transmission to slow down so they can grind together easily. 4. When the gears have stopped grinding, release the brake pedal.

Shifting gears on a tractor requires double clutching in order to be successful. Some tractors will have a clutch in the shuttle lever; this means that the clutch has to be used with the direction lever to change the shuttle’s position. A majority of tractors will have a synchronized shuttle clutch which means the clutch does not have to be used; the operator can simply change the lever’s position (Sullivan et al., 2004).

3.4. Using Tractor Attachments

When using semi-permanent hitches, it may be desirable to mark the place where the attachment is to be mounted by painting the tractor’s drawbar. This will greatly simplify aligning the tractor and implement at future hook-ups. If the implement will remain on the tractor for an extended length of time, it may be more convenient to fabricate special brackets that allow the implement to be padlocked in place, thus deterring theft.

If the attachment is to be used immediately upon starting work, the tractor should be backed into place if feasible. Failing this, the attachment should be installed with the tractor turned off and the brakes set to prevent movement when work on the attachment begins. It may be necessary to block or jack the tractor to attain sufficient clearance for attaching certain implements. In this case, the implements should be contacted about the proper method to attach the implement, and an acceptable procedure followed.

The types of equipment that are adapted for tractor use are numerous. They may be attached temporarily by pins or latches, or semi-permanently held in place by a particular hitch. In all cases, the procedures for both attaching and detaching are much the same.

4. Tractor Maintenance

Daily checks should include inspection of oil, coolant, and fuel levels. With weekly checks incorporating coolant and fuel level inspection along with engine, transmission, hydraulic system, and PTO for oil leaks. Monthly checks should be far more thorough and should also include an annual assessment on top of these. All checks and adjustments made should be recorded on the checklist along with any repairs that need to be made in the future. This checklist should be kept with the operator’s manual for easy reference in the future.

To do this, you need to develop and conduct a regular system of checks by following the operator’s manual and developing a daily, weekly, and monthly checklist suitable to your working conditions. This will help to develop a pattern of regular machine checking and become a record of maintenance work. When beginning the checks, always start the tractor and carry out while the engine is warm, as many of the adjustments and inspections are not effective on a cold engine. Then, always carry out repairs and adjustments as necessary.

To sustain efficiency and prevent unnecessary downtime, it is important to carry out routine maintenance checks. This ensures that any minor repairs and adjustments are carried out before they develop into serious or costly faults, therefore helping to ensure reliability, safety, and also helping to sustain the value of your machinery.

4.1. Routine Maintenance Checks

Coolant Level Again, make sure the filler cap is clean to avoid any foreign matter entering the cooling system, which could cause future damage. Low coolant level in the radiator can cause serious damage to the engine, so it is important to maintain the coolant at the correct level, especially during warm or constant use periods. DO NOT TAKE THE RADIATOR CAP OFF IF THE ENGINE IS HOT OR HAS BEEN RUNNING, AS THE COOLANT IS UNDER PRESSURE AND COULD CAUSE SERIOUS BURNS. WAIT UNTIL IT HAS COOLED DOWN. The expansion bottle should be filled between the minimum and maximum level. Do not overfill.

Engine Oil Check Firstly, ensure the tractor is parked on level ground to get an accurate oil level reading. Inspect the area around the oil filler cap to make sure it’s clean. This will help to avoid an excess buildup of grime falling back into the engine when the oil is filled. For accurate results, always record oil levels after the engine has been switched off for a prolonged period. Remove the dipstick and wipe it clean. Re-insert it, taking it back out to get an accurate oil level. If you do have to add oil, it’s good practice to preheat it to engine temperature and add it in small quantities, being careful not to overfill. Clean off any excess oil and remember to put the dipstick back in the filler cap.

A routine maintenance that should be carried out every time a tractor is used includes checks on the engine oil, coolant level, the condition of the fan/alternator/combine belt and tension, steering system, and the tightness and condition of wheels. Making these routine checks part of the normal pre-startup procedure will help to pick up problems that could be a cause for concern at a later stage. If in doubt, always refer to the operator’s manual. Always start with a well-maintained machine. An hour spent in routine maintenance could save a day lost through a breakdown in the future.

4.2. Fluid Level Inspection and Refilling

The hydraulic system of a tractor is a key area that needs to be maintained to ensure it operates efficiently. Check the hydraulic fluid level on a regular basis and if the level is lower than it should be, check the system for any leaks. Remember to keep the hydraulic filler cap area clean when checking the fluid level. This will prevent any dirt entering the system which may result in damage to hydraulic components. Most tractors will have a transmission oil pressure gauge. This is an early warning system to indicate a potential problem in the transmission system. If the pressure is not within the specified operating range, it may indicate a blockage in the transmission oil filter, or internal problems in the control valve, clutch pack, or the main oil pump. Check the transmission oil level and if the oil is dirty or below the specified level, a transmission overhaul may be needed. This is a costly procedure, so catching a problem early, indicated by the pressure gauge, can prevent more serious damage to the transmission system.

4.3. Tire Inspection and Maintenance

Tire checks must be conducted on a regular basis as the consequences of a blown-out tire can be very dangerous. Check for correct tire size and that they are matching throughout each pair of tires. In regards to tire pressure, this should be checked with a reliable gauge when the tires are cold. Pressure should be adjusted to account for the implement being used and the current application of the tractor. An implement guide will usually provide information about tire pressure. A higher pressure will increase the tire’s load-carrying capacity, whereas lower pressure will increase traction and reduce wheel slip. It is important to inflate and deflate tires to the correct pressures when moving between different applications with the tractor. Overinflation will cause rapid and uneven tread wear with a hard ride and reduce traction. Whereas underinflation will cause rapid wear on the shoulders of the tire with sluggish and hot riding characteristics. In extreme cases, it can cause tire separation and/or the tire to blow off the rim. High-speed travel on the road with underinflated tires is a common reason for tire blowouts. Note that radial and crossply tires can look alike but have different-sized rims. Special attention should be taken to ensure the correct tire is fitted with the correct rim size. This information will be shown on the tire wall. Check tires for leaks at the valve, punctures, and tire wall and tread damage. If any foreign object becomes embedded in the tire, it should only be removed by a professional tire repair serviceman. When storing any tractor with pneumatic tires for an extended period of time, the weight should be taken off the tires to prevent tire deformation and/or cracking with the use of jacks and/or storing the tractor indoors on a hard surface.

5. Tractor Safety

5.1 identifies that there are hazards associated with tractor work, provides ways to recognize these hazards, and how to avoid them. This is similar to risk assessment, a practice that is used to assess the dangers of a particular job, how to avoid them, and what to do if something goes wrong. Risk assessment is not specifically mentioned in this module, but is an essential process that you should gradually develop. At first, it may be doing a mental check of the job environment and conditions while on your tractor, knowing what the hazards are and how to avoid them.

During the course of this training module, you will be introduced to the health and safety rules that must be followed when operating tractors and machinery. It is essential that you apply safe working procedures to your work to protect your own health and safety and that of others. It is a legal requirement that you have undergone some form of health and safety training in order to be awarded the Certificate of Competence. Although A33 is not a health and safety course, there are many health and safety issues associated with the operation of tractors and machinery. The course training materials and this module provide a sound basis of health and safety knowledge related to tractors and machinery work, but it is vital that you read wider into this subject to improve and maintain your health and safety awareness. In the long term, this could save lives and will definitely prevent you from injury or ill health.

5.1. Identifying and Avoiding Hazards

– Reducing the risk – Where possible, change the job so that the risk of injury is lowered. This may involve thinking about the direction in which a job is done, e.g. with hedgecutting, it may be safer to cut the top of hedges first so that the tractor and hedgecutter are not working on a slope. Another example is to change the time of the job, e.g. avoiding slurry spreading onto steep ground during wet weather.

– Isolation – This involves keeping the hazard separate from people, e.g. avoiding doing field operations near rights of way or public footpaths. If it’s not possible to isolate the hazard, it may be possible to isolate people from the hazard, e.g. where livestock are moved into a field which is being ploughed, it is possible to divide the field into two by using a temporary electric fence, alternating the location of the fence as the ploughing moves from one side to the other.

– Substitution – Can a hazardous activity be done in a safer way, e.g. using hydraulic systems to stack big square straw bales rather than stacking by hand. Technology is constantly changing, and agricultural engineers are finding solutions to many of the hazards which have plagued the industry for years. This means that new machinery is often safer than the machinery it has replaced.

– Elimination – Stop the job if possible. Postpone it until conditions are safer, e.g. transport of livestock in freezing or icy conditions. If this can’t be done, try alternative methods, e.g. using livestock hurdles to prevent the handling of livestock in enclosed areas such as cattle races.

We all know that accidents will happen, but the Davy lamp will increase the likelihood of you seeing the potential hazard before the accident happens. So, while keeping an eye out for potential hazards, you can decrease the risk of injury or damage by taking steps to control the risks. We can often make use of the following measures, in order of how effective they are:

5.2. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Ear Defenders: – Ear defenders should be worn when a risk assessment indicates that noise levels exceed 85 decibels. All modern tractors (including those with a safety cab) will exceed noise limits, so ear defenders are required. Failure to cover your ears at these noise levels will increase the risk of damage to your hearing and can result in noise-induced deafness. This cannot be reversed and can be a severe handicap. – Defenders should conform to the European Standard (EN352). Earmuff defenders tend to be more hygienic than earplug defenders, and they are also harder to misplace. They usually have the added benefit of fitting onto a hard hat. When selecting defenders, it is important that they are suitable for use in a cab environment. Therefore, muffs will need to exclude higher levels of noise.

Operatives have a duty to wear and use personal protective equipment in accordance with the Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992. The regulations lay down very specific duties on employers to assess the need for PPE and to ensure that it is used when required. This includes suitable maintenance and storage. A straightforward way to determine whether you need to wear PPE is to think about whether you are at risk from field/tractor operations without it. For example, it can be seen that there is a risk to the operator from the chainsaw (cutting down trees), so Chainsaw PPE will need to be worn. It is important to remember that PPE should be used as a last resort. For example, using a ROPS and fitting a cab to a tractor will eliminate the risk of overturn from the tractor and reduce the need to wear a seatbelt. However, where these safety measures are not viable or practicable, the need to wear a seatbelt increases.

5.3. Safe Operating Practices

Passing safely over public highways and level crossings • Whenever possible, use a gated road or bridleway and do not go onto the public road. • If you must go on the public road, avoid busy roads and travel at off-peak times when there is less activity from other road users. • You should not carry out an excessive number of runs on any one length of road. • Use a route that is familiar to you and process the level of traffic accurately.

When driving • Always carry out a rough and tidy check before moving off. • Use an appropriate carriageway to lessen the risk of accidents and use lighting and marking to make the tractor more visible to other road users.

Starting and stopping • Ensure that the control levers are in neutral, that the handbrake is on, and that you have read and understood the manufacturer’s instructions concerning the particular tractor. • Do not start a tractor from the ground while standing beside it – this is a common cause of serious injury on older tractors that are no longer being manufactured. Step up onto the tractor to start it. • Always start the engine with the clutch pedal fully depressed.

Before starting the tractor • Carry out daily and weekly checks in accordance with the operator’s manual. • Ensure that guards and hitches are in place and in good condition. • Correct any defects or deficiencies.

Access • Get on and off on the left-hand side. • Use the steps and handrails, don’t jump. • Don’t carry passengers unless a second seat with a seat belt is provided.

5.4. Emergency Procedures

The safety of the injured person is the primary concern. Their comfort must be considered when moving them into the tractor. Use safe lifting techniques and, if necessary, use some form of manual handling equipment such as the transport box or a pallet. A bale placed on the transport box can provide a makeshift seat for the injured person. When placing someone in the transport box, ensure that it has not been used to carry chemicals recently; the same applies to using a pallet. A patient in critical condition may need to be carried in the cab with someone to administer first aid. Warm blankets and a hot drink can prevent a patient from going into shock.

If the injured person can be moved and the nearest hospital is some distance away, it may be most practical to take them in the tractor. In this case, it is essential to contact the hospital to inform them of your expected arrival time and the nature of the patient’s injuries. This will allow hospital staff to prepare the necessary equipment and personnel.

1. Assess the situation – do not put yourself in danger. 2. If necessary, stop the engine and remove the key – this will prevent the tractor from moving. Any moving vehicle is a hazard during an emergency. 3. Decide whether it is a minor injury/illness which can be dealt with on site or whether you need to call an ambulance. If in doubt, call an ambulance.

The emergency procedures that should be followed in the event of an accident or sudden illness involving a fellow worker or other person are as follows:

6. Tractor Efficiency and Productivity

As the rate of technological advances within the agricultural field increases, it is becoming more necessary to evaluate the efficiency and productivity of the work being carried out. A large proportion of the efficiency and productivity of an operation is related to the use of tractors and machinery. The efficiency of a tractor can be defined as the ratio of useful work done to the energy (fuel) used to produce it. Increasing the efficiency of energy conversion will reduce the cost of operation and the tillage cost per unit area. Energy efficiency has become more important with concerns over rising fuel costs and the environment. Productivity can also be measured in terms of output energy per unit input energy, by increasing this ratio the tractor is said to operate closer to its performance limit. The insulation method is useful for identifying a system performance relative to a specific machine, it’s useful for separating tasks which can be done better using the same machine and task changes that really require a change of machine.

6.1. Fuel Efficiency Tips

– Reduction of engine and transmission idle speed is a simple and effective cost-saving method. Modern tractors have a transmission and a separate hydraulic system with an associated hydraulic pump. Engine power to drive these systems is proportionate to engine speed and by lowering the engine revs, the rate of hydraulic oil flow and therefore the implement working speed will be reduced. A rough guide to cost saving is every 200 rpm reduced will save 1 liter of fuel in an average 4-cylinder tractor over a working day. Note that engine lugging should be avoided with revs below recommended ranges during heavy draft work.

– Correct ballasting to optimize traction. Too little weight on the drive wheels will reduce traction and cause wheel slip. Too much weight and therefore high wheel slip is an unnecessary waste of fuel. Weighing the tractor or using FG drawbar scales will provide information on the weight distribution (and the actual weight) that will enable ballast to be adjusted for each job. Under the same heading, correct tire choice is an important factor that will affect wheel slip due to the differing traction abilities of different tire patterns.

– Match the tractor to the job. It is a costly error to use a large tractor for a small job. The high fuel use of the large tractor will negate the cost saving of using existing machinery since it will wear out machinery quicker than normal. A good example of matching the tractor to the job is the use of a PTO driven engine to power a slurry stirrer on a pig unit. Rather than using the farm’s main tractor and a high horsepower requirement to agitate the slurry, the contractor can do the job with a smaller tractor that will slide onto the pig unit (reducing slurry transportation time costs and wear on pig unit concrete roadways) and require significantly less fuel.

By improving fuel efficiency, a business can reduce the cost of operations and increase their competitive advantage. As fuel is the largest variable cost in agricultural operations, small improvements in fuel use can lead to large savings. Tips include:

6.2. Time Management Techniques

Time effectiveness of actual task completion can be improved by minimizing time lost through servicing and maintenance operations. Well-maintained machines are less likely to break down and can complete tasks in less time. Logs of task completion times can identify poorly performing machinery, but care should be taken to ensure that focus on speed does not result in reduced job quality. High work speed does not necessarily yield great improvements to time effectiveness if there is an increase in time spent rectifying work mistakes.

Tasks of higher safety risk should be programmed at times when it is less likely that the operation has to be halted due to adverse weather. For example, rolling and baling may be best done when the Polaris 4×4 is available to access the field (instead of risking getting the tractor stuck at a later date), and following pesticide application, a bright and dry day should be waited for. A wet day is often used as an excuse to carry out tasks such as maintenance, which leads us to the next point.

Different agricultural tasks need different levels of concentration. These Farm Safety Guidelines suggest the following order of tasks in terms of safety risk (highest to lowest): – Seed bed preparation and power harrowing – Rolling – Drilling – Pesticide application – Harvesting – Silage Making – Ploughing/stubbling – Baling

Good time management practices can make an enormous difference to task completion rates. Given the large proportions of time spent seated on a tractor during cultivation and harvest tasks, improvements to time effectiveness can have a considerable impact on work quality, timeliness, and operator well-being.

6.3. Maximizing Tractor Performance

Similarly, it is often possible to change the tractor’s tyre pressures to again reduce wheel slip or road wear when in transport. Modern low ground pressure tyres are also an option and while expensive, can significantly reduce overall costs associated with wheel slip, damage to the sward, and reduced traction.

Always check the tractor operator’s manual for advice on ballasting and tyre pressures. Often it is possible to alter the tractor’s ballast to reduce wheel slip in different working conditions. For heavy draft work, it is often advantageous to add wheel weights or fit heavier ballast to attain more traction. Conversely, additional weight may not be needed when working with a light implement on the road during the summer months. In this case, the additional ballast should be removed as it reduces tyre wear, fuel consumption, ground compaction, and risk of getting the tractor stuck on soft ground.

Learning how to control the tractor and its associated operations well will help to increase working efficiency. Here are some things to consider when trying to maximise your tractor’s performance.

7. Environmental Considerations

Soil conservation attempts to maintain the resource base for food production by preventing soil erosion and degradation. This involves corrective actions and management strategies to minimize the potential for soil erosion. With increasing legislation enforced on farmers to reduce the levels of soil and chemicals entering the aquatic environment, the CPCS operative needs to address these chemical/pollution issues and affect the necessary changes in their farming practices to comply with laws such as the EU’s Nitrates Directive.

Sustainable farming has become the environmentally and economically correct thing to do. Some definitions are based on the concept that sustainability is a set of decision rules or principles based on long-term goals that define the use of today’s natural resource base. These rules should constrain the use of natural resources to the rate at which renewable resources can be generated, and the use of non-renewable resources to the rate at which a renewable substitute can be developed. Sustainable farming involves the use of these decision rules to make determinations about the use of natural resources in farming. This will be an essential practice for future generations of food producers.

7.1. Sustainable Farming Practices

One of the best ways to reduce soil erosion is to plant windbreaks. These are lines of trees, or sometimes hedges, which are planted to shield a field from the wind. Increased weed competition and large straw residues from previous crops can also increase the potential for wind erosion. Windbreaks work by reducing the wind speed across a field and literally ‘blocking’ the movement of sand or silt. The sand or silt is “dropped” when the wind hits the trees and therefore windward side of the windbreak, and this creates an increase in soil fertility. Studies in the USA have shown that a really good windbreak can reduce wind speed for a distance of as much as ten times the height of the trees. For example, if a windbreak is 5m high, it will reduce wind speed for 50m downwind. Because of this, a light crop such as vegetables, up to 60m downwind of the windbreak, would benefit from a reduced risk of wind erosion. In an arable situation in the UK, the most effective windbreaks use a mixture of deciduous and coniferous trees to create a shelter belt which has more permeability to wind than a pure coniferous belt. This creates a wind speed that is reduced gradually, starting on the upwind side, and maximizing wind protection in a narrow belt close to the trees. This arrangement reduces the risk of soil erosion from sudden changes in wind speed.

7.2. Minimizing Soil Erosion

Over the years, the conventional moldboard plough has had to make way for less aggressive cultivations in order to minimize the damage to soil structure. It has been shown that where soil structure has been maintained, runoff is kept to a minimum, even in heavy rain, as water enters the soil at a faster rate. No-till systems are the obvious answer, but sometimes in wet conditions, a less aggressive solution can be to use the correct tire setup and ballast to reduce slipping. This can make a huge difference to the state of the soil surface, particularly in a wet autumn. Most tractors are overballasted for the work being undertaken and cause an enormous amount of soil compaction, which leads to poor drainage and soil structure. Modern tractors are much heavier than their predecessors due to increased engine power and the need to comply with health and safety, so this problem is perhaps greater today than ever. It is not uncommon to see a fifty percent increase in weight above the tractor’s ideal working weight. A quick check in the manual can reveal the ideal weight or contact the dealer for more information. ELS and Entry Level ELS contractors might want to reassess their tractor choice, as a general rule, the heavier the machine, the greater the horsepower-to-weight ratio, meaning more risk of causing compaction. For all machines, correct tire pressures are a must, and the use of larger diameter tires or tracks can help to further reduce the impact of compaction. Remember, compacted soil can take years to rectify, and it has been an ongoing problem for many farmers in all soil types across the country. While older entries to the industry might find this a difficult concept to grasp, through making these changes in machinery and speaking to those in the know about soil structure, younger generations have an excellent opportunity to demonstrate modern farming’s understanding of the impact to soil through every improvement in soil conservation.

7.3. Proper Waste Disposal

7.3.3. Disposal The basic hierarchy of waste disposal begins with preventing the waste being produced in the first place. If this is not successful, the next step is to re-use or recycle the waste in question. An example of this would be collecting scrap metal from the farm and storing it until a sufficient quantity has accumulated to make it a worthwhile full trailer load for sending to a scrap merchant. Only when these two options are not possible should waste be disposed of by incineration (in the case of some hazardous waste) or landfill. Prior to the landfill of waste or the dumping of any material to waste waters such as a ditch, the Environment Agency must be consulted as a permit may be required.

7.3.2. Legislation Waste management in the UK is governed by the Environment Protection Act 1990, which sets out that it is an offence to deposit, recover, and dispose of controlled waste without an environmental permit or in a manner likely to cause pollution of the environment or harm to human health. A smaller farm where production of waste is minimal would be classed as a lower tier waste producer and would be exempt from needing a waste carrier’s license, a waste transfer note, and a prescription for the waste. Recorded farm waste must be kept on the farm for a minimum of 12 months.

7.3.1. Define waste Waste is a product of human activity, a substance which the producer no longer considers to be of any value and which is to be disposed. Waste can be organic such as slurry, sewage and crop material; potentially causing little harm. However, waste may also be hazardous and present an environmental danger. An example of this is when a pesticide container is emptied. The container itself is now deemed worthless and will be rinsed out and the remaining water poured onto the sprayer tank. This has just caused cross contamination of the container’s contents and the sprayer tank contents and is considered to be hazardous waste.

8. Troubleshooting and Problem Solving

In cases where a problem cannot be fixed or the cause identified, the most sensible course of action may be to seek advice from a specialist or the dealer. Attempts to carry out a repair without the correct knowledge, understanding, or equipment can often make the problem worse and cause further damage. Provided the root cause of a problem is eventually identified, it is possible to prevent similar occurrences of many issues with simple checks and maintenance. An understanding of why problems occur can be valuable in changing the working practices or the specification of implements to prevent issues from happening in the future.

Planning for common issues often pays dividends in terms of minimizing downtime, such as diagnosing a radiator leak, loose wheel nuts, or worn hydraulic pipes before they cause a failure. While it is difficult to reproduce field problems in a workshop, it is sometimes possible to adapt implements to the tractor or test the tractor in conditions that cause the problem. Your dealer and the tractor manufacturer should be able to offer advice, and they may be aware of a common design fault. If a problem is costing a lot of time and money, it may be worth fixing temporarily to enable work to be completed, then conducting a more thorough repair at a quieter time of year. Temporary fixes have been known to last several years and outlive the life of the tractor. Always make the time to observe the completion of a professional repair to gain understanding and prevent a recurrence of the problem. With older tractors, a good source of information can be other owners who may have experienced a similar problem in the past. For major problems that inhibit the use of the tractor, it is always worth obtaining an estimate for repair from a dealer, even if the work is to be carried out “in house.”

8.1. Common Tractor Issues

Engine lacks power. The most common reason for a decrease in power is that the throttle linkages are not correctly adjusted. This can make the tractor excessively slow. It’s a good idea to make a note of the current position and try adjusting the linkages to see if there is any improvement. If there is no improvement, it may be as simple as a little internal/external wear on the engine, which may only require a top end or full engine rebuild. Another possibility is that the clutch is slipping, however, this will result in increased fuel consumption and black exhaust smoke.

Failure to start. Check the fuel. Put the ignition on and listen for the pump. If there is no sound, check if the pump is connected. If it is, the pump may be broken. If there is a ticking sound, the fuel is getting to the injector. However, this does not always mean the injector is allowing fuel into the combustion chamber. The injector pump may be seized or the nozzles may be blocked. Another possibility is that there is air in the system, so try bleeding the system. If fuel is getting to the injectors, it may be a faulty battery. If it is not a fuel problem, suspect an electrical fault. A clicking sound shows the solenoid is working, but there may not be enough power to start the tractor. A last option is that there is a binding within the engine due to lack of use or a mechanical fault.

8.2. Diagnosing and Fixing Problems

In a perfect world, you will never have any problems with your tractor. However, this is never the case and as a responsible user, you need to identify and rectify any problems at the earliest opportunity before the issue escalates into a more serious (and usually costly) problem. It is true to say that in most cases the tractor is blamed for contravening the laws of Sod! (what can go wrong, will go wrong!) and that the problem is actually due to misuse or non-adherence to routine maintenance schedules. The key to effective problem solving is an early detection of changes in the tractor’s performance, operation, or general feeling. Regular users of a specific machine will notice subtle changes in characteristics that others will not. For this reason, it is important to take prompt action as soon as you feel something is just not right. To aid problem solving, you should use the manufacturer’s handbook, as this will provide you with predetermined solutions to common problems and routine maintenance schedules. An often overlooked point is that the tractor operator’s manual and text specific to the type of implements used will provide very useful information.

8.3. Seeking Professional Assistance

This is obviously the final resort when dealing with tractor problems. On many occasions, a professional will be able to offer a solution without even looking at the machine. Often, a description of the problem and the model of the tractor is all that the dealer will need to resolve the issue. This can save both time and money and can sometimes be done over the phone. When seeking professional assistance, it is important to be able to hear what they’re saying and ask questions if there is something you don’t understand. If the problem is something that can be repaired by the owner, it may be possible to get advice and purchase the parts needed from a local dealer. However, if the problem is serious or too complicated for a novice repair, it is best to get the tractor seen to as soon as possible rather than let the problem persist and risk further damage. By tackling the problem quickly, the machine’s downtime is reduced. If taking the tractor to a professional repairer, it is important to find someone who knows what they’re doing and who is equipped to deal with the problem. Ask around to find out where the best place to go is and if possible, find a reputable dealer who specializes in the make of your machine. When leaving the machine with the repairer, ensure that they have identified the problem and that they won’t begin work until the cost and extent of the repairs have been agreed. This will prevent any nasty surprises when the bill comes. A good repairer may also be able to offer alternative solutions to either save money or to improve the condition of the machine. When the machine is repaired, it is important to fully test the work that has been done to ensure that the problem has been solved.

9. Regulations and Compliance

When the course was designed, a National Vocational Qualification (NVQ) in Land-Based Operations was envisaged. This is still being developed, but the A33 course has been approved by the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, so in theory, successful candidates could use this as evidence toward an NVQ in the future. The A33 course fits in with the new Health and Safety legislation, which has placed new duties on employers to ensure the health and safety of their employees. Under this legislation, CPCSC should provide evidence that training and assessment of its instructors and testing at the various levels is subject to external verification (the instructors and examiners themselves will be assessed during the A40 courses). This means that if an incident involving a tractor were to result in legal action being taken, the employer will be required to prove that the employee was adequately trained. This is in much contrast to the farming industry’s previous ‘hidden’ safety culture, of which Health and Safety Executive (HSE) statistics show that in 2004/5 there were around 2000 major injuries (including death) and 20,000 other injuries to agricultural workers at a cost to society measured by the HSE at £1900 million. This is the first time that external assessment of tractor operator competence has been backed by legislation, and it is an increasingly important issue for the employers of tractor operators in Scotland, Wales, and England. Although HSE and HSENI set the standards for safe practice, no formal National Occupational Standards (NOS) exist for tractor operation. This could be a future development.

9.2. Licensing and certification requirements Part of the reason for the A33 course being developed was to improve tractor safety and to reduce the level of deaths and serious injuries resulting from tractor-related accidents. The A33 course is a response to an industry requirement for competence training and assessment of operators of agricultural tractors and self-propelled machinery.

Operators experienced in tractor use in the UK will be aware of the SORN (Statutory Off Road Notification) law. This requires all vehicles being used or kept on public roads to be licensed and insured unless a SORN has been completed. Tractors are no exception, and so they must have a minimal insurance policy and tax in order to be driven on public roads. An exception to this law can be found when the vehicle in question is strictly farm machinery not intended for use on the road. Using the analogy “around the farm and across the fields”, unlicensed tractors typically fall into this category. It should also be noted that tractors are not exempt from having a valid MOT certificate and will now need to be tested on a rolling basis if they are used on the road.

9.1. Understanding local laws and regulations There are few tractor-related laws and regulations in the UK, but the ones that exist are there for a reason. Some laws deal with dangerous machinery, of which the tractor is one. The reasoning behind this is just to reduce the risk of unnecessary accidents. No employer wants to see their workers hurt, and by ensuring that tractors are operated by trained individuals, the risk of tractor-related injury is greatly reduced.

9.1. Understanding Local Laws and Regulations

In the UK, tractors first used or registered after 1st January 1947 and capable of speeds exceeding 25mph must be approved to ensure that they conform to the relevant type approval and road worthiness standards. As of October 2012 these machines must be licensed and registered with the DVLA and it will be an offence to drive an unlicensed machine on the road. Machines which are not intended to be driven on the road but are used for operations such as hedge trimming and verge mowing which may encroach upon the highway, are also subject to separate legislations. Any tracked or wheeled vehicle used for these operations will also require a concession from DVLA to confirm that it is exempt from vehicle tax. This legislation is something to be aware of for all tractor operators as it may affect second hand machine purchases. Farmers and other operators using tractors and machines on agricultural land and not the public highway, should be aware of separate legislations and exemptions relating to specific implements and machines.

Legislation specifically related to tractors is in place for a variety of reasons. Tractors can be involved in serious and sometimes fatal accidents either on the public highway or on a farm. Figures from the Health and Safety Executive for Great Britain (HSE) show that on average 7 workers are killed each year as a result of a farm vehicle overturning. Other reasons such as the prevention of damage to the environment and preservation of local road networks are also factors that influence the laws regarding the use of tractors. Individuals who use tractors for work purposes need to be aware that there may be separate legislation for tractors used on the public highway and tractors used on agricultural land. Loopholes in legislation have sometimes resulted in instances where new machines are not subject to regulation. Buyers of tractors and machines should ensure that sellers provide them with the necessary information regarding the machine in question. Any person or organisation that carries out work with tractors must be aware of the legislation that applies to their machine and its intended use. Failure to adhere to laws can result in serious consequences.

9.2. Licensing and Certification Requirements

If the person has the money and the time and also is prepared to spend time working in the industry, gaining a formal qualification can be advantageous. It may be that a time served experienced worker can attend a short modular course to ‘top up’ his knowledge in a specific area following an identified training need. This may be for tractor driving and he may attend a Lantra course, this is usually a day-long course followed by a small test and is quite cost-effective. From a commercial point of view, as a business owner or employer, your clients may be asking what level of competence the workers have on a particular task that you have charged for. The employer must be able to demonstrate that the worker is suitably skilled and a qualification is a perfect way to prove this. Colleges often run block release courses in a wide range of subjects from basic skills such as health and safety, right through to higher level diplomas and beyond. This can be a good off-the-job training method, particularly with younger workers. Despite the full-time drop in college attendance nationwide, they are still the major provider of vocational and NPTC qualifications in land-based subjects. Date for more about NPTC qualifications. The most widely acclaimed certification in agriculture is the NPTC (National Proficiency Test Council) qualification. This is a national system designed to provide a flexible comprehensive range of vocationally related qualifications. It is the only dedicated qualification system for land-based industries and was set up by the sector for the sector. All of the qualifications have a specific purpose and are designed to be relevant to the tasks and industries to which they relate. This system is an extensive competency-based, assessment-driven qualification. NPTC qualifications are held in high regard by employers and are often required for more skilled and specialist job roles within the sector. Being a nationally recognized system, this can be beneficial if you are looking to work abroad in the future.

9.3. Compliance with Safety Standards

In the UK, the supply of new machinery is controlled by the Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations 1992. These regulations require all machines to be safe. In addition, the national standards organisation, BSI Group, has produced a code of practice for agricultural tractors (BS IR 57:2007). This provides a detailed guide for manufacturers to ensure that their machines comply with the law. Essentially, all tractors being used today should comply with the law, either with the old machinery directive 84/360 or new machinery directive 2006/42/EC. Any machine which complies with these standards will be issued with a declaration of conformity and displaying a CE Mark. This machine is legally compliant for use providing that it is used in accordance with its intended use. Keep in mind that type approval is not a legality for farm vehicles to enter the highway.

10. Conclusion

Next steps for further development The most beneficial area to progress from this course would be to take the knowledge gained and practice the control measures into real-life scenarios. Due to the infrequency of this type of work, it will be difficult to eliminate all the power back up and reconnection tasks from an ad-hoc maintenance job. This means it’s important to correctly identify the specific work to be performed; highlighting the wiring circuits involved and possible entrapment of power source. A part process from one of the various machine tasks during normal day-to-day farm work would be a suitable scenario to practice control measure identification. This may vary from spending five minutes to five days, the duration isn’t so important but there is a need to get it right and avoid power back and reconnection. All mistakes are easily escapable with the right guidance and should the learner already be adopting the correct methods it’s the perfect opportunity to pass on the knowledge demonstrated from this revised tractor course. Finally, after some time has passed it would be very beneficial to resit a form of power back and reconnection revision before taking on the task a new machinery operation.

A suitable learning process was decided for this topic. Beginning with some formal tuition to introduce the topic area and highlight the importance of doing the job safely. This followed with a group discussion/brainstorming session to identify the various scenarios where power back and reconnection could occur. This highlighted some useful real-life examples from the course participants. Handouts and worksheets were used to assist the learning process and help reinforce knowledge on the topic area. Duration of the course meant it could be split into theory and practical session. A fault finding exercise in the New Machinery Display Area proved very effective in helping to identify faults on modern machinery wiring circuits. This was followed by the postponement of the practical rebuilding session to allow continuation on the following day. This simply reinforced the importance of doing a job to the correct method, avoiding shortcuts.

Recap of key learnings The key learnings from the Lantra Awards A33 Power back up and reconnection course are that the participants have gained a lot of new knowledge and it has reinforced the knowledge they already had. They are now more aware of the potential hazards and consequences of power back up and reconnection. Participants are now better prepared to carry out a risk assessment before beginning work on reconnection and are able to select suitable control measures to eliminate or reduce the risk. They are also better prepared to recognise faults in machinery wiring systems, helping to prevent the machine being started unintentionally.

10.1. Recap of Key Learnings

This might have been the first time when some of you have thought about your job and the skills involved in a structured way. You might recognize that there are still some large gaps between your current skills and the desired skills outlined in the competencies. You might be keener to learn after understanding that skilled operators get more productive results and it is usually more enjoyable and less stressful doing it the right way! If any of these comments apply to you, seriously consider your options for getting the skills and knowledge to turn this into a career enhancing opportunity.

As a professional operator, it is important for you to keep developing all through your career. Think about how you are doing things now, how does it compare to the standards outlined in this course. There are clear differences between being able to drive a tractor and being a skilled tractor driver. This course has defined what is expected of a skillful operator and has set out clear progression steps to get there.

Agriculture has and will continue to rely on good machines well operated. With the abolition of the tractor driving part of the old farm register scheme, this training course has set a new minimum standard for formal tractor driving and operations skills both for experienced and non-experienced operators.

10.2. Next Steps for Further Development

The next area for development is openness. Openness is important for learning because open individuals will seek out new experiences, be curious and inquisitive, and take in a lot of information from different sources. Open individuals also cope better with ambiguity and complexity, and this will be the case for farm managers who are dealing with an increasingly complex industry. Openness is not a single attribute that can be changed easily by a specific intervention; it is more a mindset of relating to the world, therefore changes in this area will be slow and gradual. One way to develop openness is to expose oneself to new ideas and information, and so it is recommended that the individual reads the above-mentioned books. Alternatively, it may be useful to increase awareness by reflecting on each day’s events, gauging how you dealt with different situations, and from there, identifying which areas need work and how information can be related to prior learning. High levels of openness are often accompanied by creativity, so another strategy could be to look at tasks in different ways and try new methods that are not the standard routine.

Based on the results of the behavioural assessment questionnaire, it is clear that development is needed in four specific areas in order to succeed with further learning. These areas are self-belief, openness to learning, conscientiousness, and emotional stability. As highlighted in section 1.4, self-belief is a key factor in determining success because the individual that possesses a strong self-belief will persevere longer when things get tough and will not be perturbed by failure. Therefore, it is recommended that the individual uses the CD provided by Tuckey Print or internet resources such as Brian Johnson’s ‘Philosophers Notes’ or the books ‘Talent is Overrated’ by Geoff Colvin and ‘Mindset’ by Carol Dweck to take in information that will improve self-belief.