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The Daily Bale
Natasha Post, Author
A swather is a farm implement most commonly used to cut hay and form windrows. Swathers, or windrowers as they are sometimes referred to in other parts of the world, can also cut small cereal crops. Swathers are harvesting aids that help speed up the crop drying process, lowering the moisture content of the crop so that it’s suitable for harvesting and storage.
Predominantly, there are two types of swather used in the United States. Self-propelled swathers have an internal combustion engine powering the machine, while pull-type swathers are drawn by a tractor and use a power take-off (PTO) shaft to transmit energy to the swather attachment. Swathers use cutting discs or a sickle bar to cut through the crop stems, and a reel helps the cut-down crop fall onto an auger conveyor or canvas that moves the stem and deposits it neatly into a windrow.
Windrows created by swathers have all stems oriented in the same direction to aid universal drying. Sometimes, swathers can have horizontal rollers behind the cutting sickle or discs that crimp the stems to decrease drying time further. Ultimately, swathers are used to drastically cut down on the drying time needed during the haymaking process. Keep reading to find out more about swathers and how to transport.
Where is a Swather Most Commonly Used?
The swathing process is most commonly used in the northern United States and Canada, where the curing time for grain is reduced by cutting the plant stems during shorter growing seasons. In regions that experience longer growing seasons, hay and cereal crops are often left standing and harvested using a combine, since standing grains in areas with longer growing seasons can typically reach the required moisture level without additional help.
What To Look For in a Used Swather
Similarly to buying any piece of new or used equipment, it’s essential to inspect several components to determine if the swather you’re purchasing and transporting is worth its price. One key aspect is its overall size and appearance, and whether its functionality is what you need. Where possible, arrange a test drive of the equipment to ensure the forward and backward momentum and transmission operates as you’d expect. Buying a swather that’s larger than what you need will unnecessarily overcomplicate transport.
If you’re looking at used swathing equipment, take a walk around the unit to check the paintwork and highlight any leaks and damage that may need to be repaired. The overall appearance will dictate how well the swather was looked after by previous owners and help you to determine if it’s a good investment.
Both used and new equipment benefit from a look at the engine’s specifications. If used, the hood should be lifted while the engine is running so you can look for leaks from any hoses, hydraulics, or other components. Check the engine plate and verify the equipment’s specifications, both to see if it meets your requirements and to make sure it meets emission standards.
Swathers can operate with either front or rear attachments, and there may be a variety of options to examine. One crucial component to check is the type of reel that’s compatible. Swather reel types vary, and your machine may be equipped with any of the following:
- Split P/U
How to Transport a Swather
The process used to transport a swather in North America depends on where your equipment is located and where it’s traveling to. Some areas, such as Oklahoma, allow swather towing without permits as long as the truck has a farm tag. In other states, permits are required.
Most swathers will be required to travel as oversized loads on a suitably sized trailer. Pull-type swather equipment is are often overlength and will typically be transported on an RGN trailer. As most pull-type swathers cannot fold, an extended RGN trailer is often used to transport larger models.
Self-propelled swathers are often overwidth, and if your swather is unusually large, disassembly will be required before transport. To safely transport a large swather, the cab and swather will often be disconnected and shipped as two separate pieces. If shipping as one item, there are specialized RGN trailers outfitted with rigger panels that extend over the width of the trailer’s tires that are wide enough to allow transporters to drive the self-propelled swather directly onboard.