AS 145 - Introduction to Tractors and Equipment


The goals of this course include training responsible, effective tractor operators and developing student confidence with tractors so that they can make sustainable management decisions. This course will include both lecture and lab time. Lecture hours will include discussion of safe operating practices, the role of tractors in small-scale agriculture, and proper tractor maintenance. Each lecture session will focus on a specific component of the tractor, its implements, and its operation. Lab time will involve direct experience and drive time with a rotary mower, York rake, moldboard plow, wagon and disks. These labs are also a time to practice our essential tractor skills.

AS 145: Agriculture Power Systems: Tractor Operation and Safety

Summer 2012, Session II




MEETING:     Location: Barn

                        Lecture/Discussion:    Friday 1:30 PM to 4:30 PM

                        Labs:   TBD

                        Office Hours: Monday 11:00 AM to 12:00 PM

 INSTRUCTOR:        Patrick Sweatt


                                    Office: 856-7711, ext 170      


                        Tractor and Small Engine Maintenance by Arlen D. Brown

                        Building Soil For Better Crops by Fred Magdoff and Harold van Es

                        Kubota MX5100 Operator Manual

                        HOSTA Task Sheets

                        Tractor Maintenance; AAVIM Publication


Lecture/Discussion: Lectures take place on Friday afternoons in the barn. I will use this as a time to explain the specific topics we will be focusing on and set the stage for the tractor work we will be doing later in the afternoon. Because we will be meeting after our week’s labs we will also use this as a time to debrief and discuss our observations. After lecture, we will address a specific component of the tractor, its implements, and its operation

Labs: Labs are where we will apply the safety and operation skills that we discuss during the lectures. These labs will include direct experience and drive-time with a rotary mower, York rake, moldboard plow, wagon and disks. These labs are also a time to practice our essential tractor skills.

COURSE OBJECTIVES: Course materials, lectures and labs have been planned to:

-       Introduce and discuss the role of tractors in small-scale agriculture

-       Train responsible, effective tractor operators with maintenance experience

-       Develop student confidence such that they can transfer this knowledge to other farms and make sustainable management decisions.

STUDENT EVALUATION: Student evaluation will be based on class attendance and participation in class discussions, labs and their Personal Learning Project. Letter grades will be assigned as follows: A=100 to 90%, B=80-89%, C=70 to 79%, D=60 to 69%, F=<60%

                       40%     Personal Learning Project

                        50%     Mastery and physical component

                        10%     Class participation

GENERAL POLICIES: Please meet with me if you have any concerns about the class or need clarification or assistance regarding any aspect of this course. I am available during my office hours, when I am down on the farm core, and at meal times. I understand that this class takes place at 1:30 on a Friday but future operators need to come ready to commit themselves entirely to the material. We will take breaks during transition times, and please use these as opportunities to use the restroom/smoke/text- class time needs to be used to focus and become the best tractor operator possible.

 CLASS PARTICIPATION AND ATTENDANCE: Attendance is mandatory for all class activities and lectures. If you arrive late or miss class without a verifiable excuse, then you will lose 1% of your final grade. Due to the serious nature of working with tractors, 3 absences (excused or unexcused) will result in a grade of “F”. If you miss Lab, then I cannot guarantee that I will be able to reschedule time to work with you, but I will do my best if you have given me early notice. Lastly, please do not come to class if you are sick- let me know that you are ill via email and we will work something out.

 EXPECTATIONS FOR CLASS PARTICIPATION: Participation in this class is more than just showing up, it means making a direct contribution to course activities. The machinery and work we will doing is highly dangerous and is not to be approached casually. I expect participants in this class to commit themselves fully to the work, both physical and academic, and to strive in each lecture to add creative and useful comments to the ongoing discussion.


Class Participation Goals


1)    Create a supportive learning environment (e.g. come to class on time, demonstrate courtesy, respect and support for the efforts of other students, comments acknowledge or build on the ideas of others)

2)    Contribute value to class discussions (e.g. demonstrate interest, willingness to get involved, ideas that are creative, share facts and perspectives that reflect additional research)

3)    Achieve one personal development goal (e.g. improve a study skill, plan a class learning activity or improve your presentation skills)

Competency Goals for Sterling College Tractor Operators

Description: This competency identifies the Knowledge, Skills and Abilities required to perform basic tasks in the operation of farm-type tractors and towed or attached equipment to maintain pastures and farm roads, move materials with a loader and build a transferrable knowledge base. Work is performed under close supervision on terrain that varies from slopes to rolling fields and after intense orientation to equipment and safety standards.

I.Orientation and Inspection of Tractor/Attachments

A. Interpret and follow operating manuals, maintenance manuals, service charts.

B. Physical inspection of tractor and interpretation of manufacturer instruction for proper use of all controls for safe operation of tractor and all attachments.

C. Start up procedures and perform safety inspections.


II. Development of Basic Control Skills

A. Learn handling characteristics and develop awareness for equipment and attachments.

B. Develop hand, foot and eye coordination

C. Operate several sets of controls for tractor and attachments.

D. Ability to connect/disconnect all attachments with PTO shafts and hydraulic lines (when available).

E. Develop ability to operate tractor in confined areas.

III. Recognition of Hazards

A. Develop basic knowledge of soil types and characteristics in various weather conditions

B. Demonstrate knowledge of proper road driving and towing procedures

C. Develop confidence and risk awareness when working on slopes

D. Be able to communicate via hand signals with other workers

IV. Specialized Skills for Sterling College

A.   Hook up to livestock trailer without assistance

B.    Hook up and safely run rotary mower in pastures, roadsides and on sloping ground

C.    Back up and disconnect compost trailer, livestock trailer and rotary mower

D.   Show proficiency with loader attachment

E.    Maintain service log