John Deere Maintenance Monday: Dragging and pulling stumps
Trees are never easy to take down, especially when they’re in tricky spots like along a fence row. A lot of landowners use their utility tractors to remove logs and other debris, but you have to be very careful.
Dennis Murphy is an extension safety specialist at Penn State University. He says there are fatal accidents every year from farm tractors that have overturned when pulling trees, logs, and limbs. For example farmers will put a chain around a log and drag it on the ground. The log digs into the ground, and the tractor ends up in a rear overturn. Murphy says there are safer ways to handle this task.
"They really should try to use chokers, and log arches, things that are meant to pick up the log up off the ground so that it can't dig in and cause that rear overturn," says Murphy. "There's a variety of winches, and log arches that can fit on the back of smaller tractors that at least reduces the risk of trying to pull something."
Any device that prevents the log from twisting or rolling out of control while being dragged will increase safety. If you have to use a chain, Murphy says to only attach it to the drawbar. Also make sure it's short enough that it doesn't catch on the rear tire when the tractor is turning right or left.
When you're pulling out a tree stump, hook the stump as low to the ground as you can.
"Then you would put your tractor in its lowest gear and give it throttle, and then let out the clutch slowly," says Murphy. "Do not try to get a running start, or try to jerk the tree stump out, that's when you get the rear overturns. Or, trying to use high gears and full throttle. You will get a rear overturn."
If the tractor is in low gear, the object you're pulling won't budge, and the engine dies, Murphy says that's a sign that you need a larger machine.
Learn more about pulling out stumps and safety tips for using a tractor in the woods
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