on Friday, October 25, 2019
Storm season and heavy rainfall can produce muddy conditions perfect for getting a tractor stuck in mud and muddying up a chore list. All that downtime leaves you in a hurry to make up for lost time the moment you can, especially if you still have crop to harvest like collards and kale. With these conditions, even the most skilled and cautious operators can sometimes find themselves with unmoving wheels, stuck on a slope or in the mud smack dab in the middle of their workday.
More challenging still, is when you find yourself in this predicament with your implement still in place. To minimize your chances of damaging your tractor and your equipment, or harming yourself and those helping you, here are some useful tips on how to get unstuck while keeping safety top of mind.
Driving Through a Muddy Situation and Moving with Caution to Get Unstuck
Spinning wheels is never a good sign when working out in the field. If you find yourself suddenly in a questionable but modestly sized wet area, with wheels that are starting to spin, your first option is to attempt to carefully drive through it since stopping now can leave you stuck. First, you’ll want to lift your implement to get it up and out of the way. Next, if your machinery is equipped with a differential lock, now is a good time to activate it and slowly attempt driving through.
If going forward doesn’t work or even attempting it seems ill advised, going backward is your next option. Take care to ensure all people and animals are out of harm’s way. With your differential lock engaged, try backing out of the muddy situation by putting your tractor in reverse with the throttle a fourth of the way open. If this isn’t working and you seem to be getting more stuck, it’s time to turn off the tractor. Spinning your wheels at this point without traction is only going to make you sink in further and ultimately make your tractor stuck in the mud more deeply.
Use Tools and Materials to Get Your Tractor Unstuck
If trying to move forward and backward has left your wheels spinning with your tractor stuck in the mud, the next step is to use some additional tools and materials to help free your equipment. Start with a shovel and some planks. The idea here is to create some space for traction and momentum.
You’ll want to remove mud from around all of your wheels. It can be helpful to extend your rear wheel digging efforts outward, making a path for backing out and away from the muddy area. Placing planks behind your rear wheels can also make for a helpful solution and offer solid footing to get you unstuck and freed from the mud.
Again, make sure your implement remains raised, your differential lock is in place and your throttle is a fourth open before trying to slowly back out. Be sure all animals and people are at a safe distance before backing out. If you’re still unable to free yourself, your best bet is to get some help from another tractor.
Get a Helping Hand From Another Tractor to Get Unstuck
Getting yourself free when your equipment is stuck in deep is no easy feat. At this point, you may need to call in some help by way of another tractor. To ensure you don’t wind up with two tractors stuck in the mud, take caution with how close the helping tractor gets to the wet or soft ground.
In order for this to be effective, this equipment is going to have to be on solid footing. You’ll also need either a strong, undamaged chain capable of pulling the weight of your tractor, or a tow bar. In scenarios such as these, a cable is not a reliable choice.
Sometimes raising your implement is not enough and you’ll have to remove it before being able to back your tractor out. If that’s the case, you’ll want to take special care with the hydraulic lines so that they are not in danger of being damaged by the mud or accidentally run over. Using a suitable chain, use the helping tractor to pull your stuck tractor to solid ground.
Now to pull your tractor free. To avoid tipping, you’ll want to attach either your tow bar or chain to each of the respective tractor drawbars. Connecting the equipment elsewhere can put you in great danger of tipping, causing damage to your equipment or even personal injury. Ideally, you’ll want to pull the stuck tractor backwards out of the mud.
Freeing the equipment this way is often easier. Be sure that animals and people are at a safe distance. Once the helping tractor is engaged, and the chain or tow bar are taut, you can now give backing out another try and the helping tractor can start towing you out. Once you’re unstuck, take the time to carefully look over your equipment. Hopefully you’re just dealing with mud that needs cleaning off before you’re back to operating condition.
If something else appears to be off, you can take a look at your owner’s manual to get a clearer picture of what might need to be done, or contact your local Sunshine service department to schedule a maintenance service.