The key to having a machine that will work efficiently for you lies in proper maintenance of that machine. In a sense, you get out of your tractor what you put into it. If you do minimal maintenance on your tractor, you will ultimately get minimal performance and more breakdowns. However, if you perform optimal maintenance, you will benefit from optimal performance and fewer breakdowns. When you think of it that way, it seems like the clear choice is to put forth the effort to keep your tractor in good working order.
There are several areas of your tractor that need regular attention. The easiest places to start are those that require a visual inspection, such as your gauges. Be sure that your temperature gauge reads within normal range so your engine is not running hot. Also monitor your oil pressure to be sure it is as it the proper PSI for your tractor. Your tachometer is meant to let you know if you are operating at too many RPMS so keep an eye on that as well. Other parts of your tractor that you can inspect visually include the tires. Do they appear too low? Place a tire pressure gauge on the valve stem and find out!
Ensure that your fluids are at proper levels. This means checking oil, transmission fluid, coolant, hydraulic oil, etc. While you are looking at fluid levels, be sure to look on, around, and underneath your tractor instead of exclusively in the reservoirs holding your fluids so you are able to spot leaks as they occur. Since tractor usage is measured in hours, you need to pay particular attention to your use, both in how often and how hard you work your tractor to determine when and what type of fluid maintenance is due.
Check filters, belts, and hoses on a routine basis. Filters protect against undesired contaminants and need to be monitored for proper function. You do not want any accumulations to impede the effectiveness of your filters. Check your fuel filter for water accumulation as diesel fuel attracts water that could cause potential problems. If you work in dirty and dusty conditions, stay on top of that air filter, vacuuming or blowing it out with compressed air but do not wash it. Check your radiator screen for debris and buildup while you are at it. Be sure not to push your luck with an air filter that has seen its lifetime of use; replace it when the time comes. When you check your hoses, be mindful of cracking or wear. Since horses control hydraulics, hose failure can be a dangerous problem that might result in loss of steering or other component malfunction due to hydraulic pump failure. Replace any loose or leaking connections as well as bad seals to avoid problems such as this.
Just as it is important to be able to make your tractor go, it is also important to be able to make it stop. Check those brakes for equal adjustment and keep linkages lubricated! Be sure to keep independent mechanical rear axle brakes in good shape so there is less risk of one accidentally engaging and spinning your tractor, especially at high rates of speed. Being able to use these brakes to change direction or maneuver in tight spaces in great but only when you do it deliberately on your terms, so leave no avenue for your brakes to fail or malfunction.
Defer to your owner's manual for answers to any specific questions you may have, as tractors differ from one another and what works for one may not work for the next. What is universal, however, is that machinery requires care to last and perform at its full capacity on a daily basis. While providing the basics are a given, going above and beyond to maintain your livelihood will only benefit you in the long run. Plan and adhere to maintenance schedule in accordance with manufacturer's suggestions and your tractor will thank you with continued hard work.