Tractor Front-End Loader Operating Tips | Spreading Gravel
* This post has been sponsored by KIOTI Tractor. All views and opinions expressed in this post are based on my personal experiences.*
I’ve said it once and I’ll probably say it 100 more times, but I cannot imagine trying to tackle a number of the maintenance projects we have around the farm without the help of our KIOTI tractor. About 3 years ago, we purchased a KIOTI CK4010SE and it has passed every test we have put it through!
With all the rain we have been getting recently, we have turned our focus to the barn. Since we don’t have a gutter on the roof of the barn, the area directly in front of the stalls has gotten extremely muddy and due to it being in the shade, it rarely gets the chance to dry out. To remedy this ongoing problem and to shore up the footing, we decided to get a load of gravel delivered to spread it along the roofline to prevent the mud from accumulating.
To do this, we used the front-end loader on our KIOTI tractor to scoop, spread, and back drag the gravel outside of each stall. Like most things around the farm, efficiency is key, so I wanted to share some of my operating tips and tricks to show you how to be effective when using your front-end loader.
1. Driving with a Front-End Loader:
When driving with a front-end loader (or grapple) on your tractor, it is best practice to keep the bucket low for optimum stability and visibility. Keep a slow speed and take your time to raise and lower your load. If you are carrying a full, heavy load, it is especially important that you keep the bucket low to the ground. Never move with your bucket in the raised position – this could unbalance your tractor, making it easier to overturn.
One great feature about our KIOTI tractor is its high ground clearance. This makes transporting loads across the farm safe and easy and allows us to drive over a variety of terrains.
2. Filling your Loader
Getting a good, full load makes everything quicker. While this is not necessarily difficult, knowing a few tricks of the trade certainly makes things easier! First off, be sure your tractor is in low gear. Second, keep your bucket parallel to the ground. Don’t be afraid to drag your bucket across the surface and deep into your pile. Tractors are built for this type of work, especially when you have a quality piece of equipment, like a KIOTI.
Lastly, as you drive into the pile, use the joystick to slowly tilt and lift the bucket while maintaining a slow and steady speed. Gravel can get heavy quickly, so having a tractor with good hydraulics is key. A main reason we purchased a KIOTI tractor is for its front-end loader capacity and strong hydraulic system.
3. Spreading and Back Dragging the Gravel
Now that your front-end loader is full, it's time for the fun part, spreading! Spreading and grading materials, especially gravel is a slow and steady process. Instead of dumping a full load on the area where you plan to spread the gravel, try spreading it out in sections by slowly tilting your bucket down while moving in reverse.
Once your gravel is in small piles, you can use your front-end loader to back drag the piles for a smooth finish. When back dragging, it’s important to have your bucket at the correct angle - tilted about 20-30 degrees down. Grading is a game of patience. Work in small sections and at a low speed.
Our KIOTI tractor makes operating a front-end loader safe and easy. Another great feature is its single lever joystick, allowing the bucket to take a “float position,” giving the bucket the ability to freely float over a surface.
Our compact KIOTI tractor is a necessary piece of equipment at Addison Farms. We constantly have a long list of time-consuming chores and projects, but with the right attachments, such as a front-end loader, these tasks can be knocked out in no time!
Learning how to safely operate a tractor takes time. It is always safe to go through the user manual prior to using it. Your local dealer is also a great resource for training and questions.