Papacek recommends that the oil from farm machinery be tested at least once per season to identify any potential problems. He says that farmers should consider the cost of having a piece of equipment out of service because of a problem that could have been identified earlier.

“Think of an oil sample as doing blood work,” Hendrix says. He adds that there are a lot of things you can find out about a piece of equipment that you would never be aware of otherwise.

While oil-testing experts agree that the analysis can be extremely valuable in maintaining a piece of equipment, the practice has not yet been widely adopted in agriculture. Farmers who do use fluid analysis are responding to two important trends: the equipment is evolving and owners are more focused on protecting their equipment investment. 

Farmers should check with their local dealerships for information about oil testing. The cost for a single oil analysis typically ranges from $15 to $30.