Cleaning farm machinery
Updated: Updated: May 2012 and reviewed August 2013
Plant pests and weeds will spread to new sites on dirty machinery
- Clean machinery regularly to reduce the risk of spreading of pests and diseases.
- Develop checklists as a reminder to clean critical areas on each machine.
- Think safe before inspecting or cleaning any machine.
Dirty machinery carries soil, seeds, and organic matter which may dislodge when the machine is next used and spread contamination to new sites.
Regular cleaning of machinery creates a major protective barrier to the spread of soil-borne pests and diseases like Potato Cyst Nematode (PCN), Bacterial Wilt and Weeds. All equipment should be washed clean with high-pressure water before going to new paddocks. On completion of cultivation, physically dislodged lumps of soil and debris attached to the machine before wash down.
Soil-borne pests and diseases can be transferred in wet soil attached to wheels, tracks or parts of the machine that work in the ground. Some pests and disease can also be transferred in dust that can accumulate on many parts of the machine – engine bay, cabins and air intakes. Given the diversity of possible contamination points, it is recommended that you develop checklists for each piece of machinery to use as a reminder. Checklists make the inspection and cleaning process faster and easier, and form a record of proof that the machine has been cleaned but inspecting officers will use their own checklists and carry out a visual inspection.
Selecting a cleaning site
Machinery is usually cleaned and inspected at or near the job site. Carefully select the cleaning site to reduce the risk
of contaminating adjacent machinery or land. Make sure your cleaning site is:
- close to the worked paddock to minimise spread of soil during transit;
- agreed with land owner and provider of service;
- accessible in all weather;
- contained for safe disposal of waste;
- away from water courses or public drains;
- flat for safety while working and to reduce run-off;
- stable surface to prevent re-contaminating machinery; like a concrete, gravel or well grassed area;
- access to suitable cleaning equipment, electricity and water as required;
- identifiable for monitoring and controlling any pest that may establish at the site; try to include a distinguishing landmark or GPS location.
Avoid damaging machinery during cleaning. Use water on equipment that works under the ground and on external surfaces unless there are specific chemical treatments, such as for interstate movement of machinery. Check with us at Plant Standards if machinery is going interstate or into quarantine areas. For cabins or electronics, prone to water damage, use air, vacuum or manual cleaning equipment.
Machines may need to be regreased or lubricated after cleaning, especially if detergents or other chemicals have been used.
Before inspecting or cleaning any machine, it needs to be made safe. Procedures will vary but manufacturer and business guidelines should always be followed. Common sense should prevail, this includes:
- Prevent the machine from moving.
- Lower raised implements to the ground.
- Remove the key so that it cannot be started.
- Secure free moving parts which may cause injury.
- Never rely on hydraulics when under a machine.
Covers and guards
Covers, guards and inspection hatches will need to be removed and replaced for cleaning and inspection. The location and procedures for removing and replacing these items will vary between equipment and operator or workshop manuals should be consulted. Always use correct tools for removing and replacing covers and guards. After inspecting and cleaning, always ensure that covers and guards are replaced correctly and checked.
Waste in the form of contaminated water, dust, debris or chemicals will often be left at the cleaning site. Dispose of responsibly. Where chemicals are used as part of the cleaning process, they must be handled and disposed of according to the requirements on the label or Material Safety Data Sheet.
Inspecting farm machinery
Photo 1: Organic Matter lodged in joint
Photo 2: Pay particular attention to bearing ends
Photo 3: Soil built up on steering linkages
Photo 4: Check cleaning of difficult areas
Contact us for more information.
Information sourced from Vegetable matters-of-fact 'Cleaning Potato Machinery' Number 32, May 2006.
Published and Authorised by:
Department of Environment and Primary Industries
1 Spring Street
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The advice provided in this publication is intended as a source of information only. Always read the label before using any of the products mentioned. The State of Victoria and its employees do not guarantee that the publication is without flaw of any kind or is wholly appropriate for your particular purposes and therefore disclaims all liability for any error, loss or other consequence which may arise from you relying on any information in this publication