In agriculture, fertilizer tow behind spreaders applies granular fertilizer, lime, grass seed, and other materials over a wide area of land. In many cases, fertilizer is not evenly spread by the spreader, resulting in areas of your lawn that are over-fertilized and others that are under-fertilized. Consequently, your lawn may develop yellow patches and bare spots.

Clogged tow behind spreaders can also occur when the material applied is too dry or too delicate. These clogged tow-behind spreaders may be hard to operate and may not apply material evenly. Regularly calibrating a fertilizer spreader will help prevent this problem. But how to fix fertilizer tow behind spreader?

Several steps can be taken to fix a tow behind the fertilizer spreader caused by mechanical failure. To ensure that your lawn is fertilized in an even and proper manner, please continue reading to understand fixing tow behind fertilizer spreaders.

How to Fix Fertilizer Tow Behind Spreader When Not Working Properly?

How to Fix Fertilizer Tow Behind Spreader When Not Working Properly

With fertilizer tow behind spreaders, you can ensure optimal plant health and growth across your lawn. But even the best tow-behind spreaders can malfunction from time to time.

If you’re having trouble with your tow behind broadcast spreader, here are some steps for fixing it:

Step 01. Check the Spreader Settings:

Check the spreader settings to ensure you apply the fertilizer at the correct rate. If the settings are too low, the fertilizer won’t disperse properly. Conversely, if the settings are too high, the fertilizer will be broadcast too quickly and may not have a chance to break down properly.

The best way to determine the correct spreader settings is to consult the owner’s manual for your specific model. You should start with a lower setting and increase it until you achieve the desired results.

Step 02. Inspect the Spreader Nozzles:

If your fertilizer tow behind the broadcast spreader still isn’t working correctly, the next step is to inspect the spreader nozzles. Over time, the nozzles can become clogged with fertilizer residue, preventing the fertilizer from being released evenly.

Inspect the spreader nozzles for any damage or clog that may have occurred during storage or transportation. Look for cracks, holes, or other signs of wear and tear. If any damage is found, it will need to be repaired before using the spreader again.

To clean the nozzles, remove them from the spreader and soak them in a solution of warm water and vinegar. Once they’ve soaked for a while, use a toothbrush to scrub away any remaining residue. Now you’ve cleaned the nozzles, reattach them to the spreader and test them out.

Step 03. Clean the Spreader Completely:

Before using the fertilizer tow behind the spreader, you must clean it thoroughly. When you have inspected the spreader nozzles and made the necessary changes, it is time to clean the spreader. This is essential because a dirty spreader can lead to several problems, including clogged nozzles, uneven fertilizer distribution, and rust.

Fortunately, cleaning a fertilizer spreader is relatively simple. The first step is removing residual fertilizer from the hopper and broadcast spreader plate. You can do this by emptying the rustproof poly hopper and brushing off the plate.

Next, you will need to clean the moving parts of the spreader, such as the auger, spinner, and chain. This can be done with a brush or hose. Ultimately, you will need to lubricate all the moving parts to ensure they are working correctly.

Step 04. Refill the Spreader:

Once you have cleaned your fertilizer tow behind the spreader, the next step is to refill it with new fertilizer. Simply add fresh fertilizer to the hopper and reattach the spreader plate. It may be difficult to tell how much fertilizer to add, but you may find the correct hopper capacity in manuals.

Before using your broadcast spreader again, test it on a small section of your lawn or garden with an adequately adjusted setting. This will allow you to ensure everything works correctly before spreading fertilizer across your entire yard or garden.

With these steps, you should be able to fix and maintain your lawn fertilizer tow behind the spreader easily.

How Does a Fertilizer Tow Behind Spreader Work?

How Does a Fertilizer Tow Behind Spreader Work

The fertilizer tow behind drop spreader is a device that helps distribute fertilizers over a wide area in an agricultural field. Most tow-behind spreaders have a drop system that allows you to control the amount of fertilizer dispensed. It consists of a tank filled with fertilizer and a spreading mechanism attached to the vehicle’s rear end.

As you drive the tow broadcast spreader over your lawn, the fertilizer is dropped through the bottom and dispersed evenly across the ground. The spreading mechanism consists of a revolving disc with holes through which the fertilizer is released.

The amount of fertilizer released can be controlled by adjusting the speed of the disc. As the vehicle moves forward, the fertilizer is evenly distributed over the field. Depending on the size of your lawn, you may need to make multiple passes with the spreader to ensure that all areas are adequately fertilized.

What are the Common Problems With Fertilizer Tow Behind Spreaders?

What are the Common Problems With Fertilizer Tow Behind Spreaders

Fertilizer spreaders are excellent for those who want to ensure their crops are nourished. But, there are a few common problems that can occur when using a fertilizer spreader:

Cotter Pin or Spinner Key

The cotter pin or spinner key is a small metal pin that holds the blades of a fertilizer drop spreader in place. Without this pin, the blades would quickly become unbalanced and eventually fall off, rendering the tow spreader useless.

The problem is that the cotter pin is straightforward to lose, and if it isn’t replaced before the subsequent use, the spreader will have to be removed until a new one can be found. This can be a significant problem for farmers who rely on their spreaders to fertilize their crops.

A broken or missing key that connects the wheel and the axle shaft will prevent the axle from rotating and the spinner from spinning. It is straightforward to replace cotter pins since they are inexpensive.

Also, the loss of a cotter pin can cause severe damage to the lawn spreader itself, as the unbalanced blades can cause the drive shaft to bend or break. Replacing a bent or broken drive shaft is an expensive repair that could have been avoided if the cotter pin had been in place.


Gearbox problems with the fertilizer tow behind spreaders are becoming more common as the spreaders age. The problem is that the gearbox is not strong enough to handle the fertilizer’s weight and the wheels’ ground pressure. This causes the gearbox to slip and grind, eventually damaging the gears.

Your drop spreader may not spin if you suspect a problem with the gearbox. Open the gearbox up to see if there is any debris that is causing it to lock up, or look for broken components.

Purchasing and reinstalling a new gearbox is relatively straightforward if necessary. This will ensure that the gearbox can handle the weight and pressure of the fertilizer and will last longer.

Gearbox problems can also be caused by using the wrong type of oil in the gearbox. If you use light oil, it will not be thick enough to lubricate the gears correctly and will eventually wear out. The gearbox should use heavy-duty oil to lubricate the gears and make them last longer appropriately.

Drive Motor

The drive motor is responsible for powering the spinning disk that distributes the fertilizer. If the drive motor is jammed or not working correctly, it can cause the disk to spin erratically, resulting in uneven fertilizer distribution.

In some cases, the disk may not spin, preventing the spreader from working correctly. A qualified technician can usually repair drive motor problems. But, if the damage is severe, you may need to replace the entire drive motor assembly.

Also, if the drive motor cannot move the spreader smoothly, then there’s a good chance that the fertilizer will get stuck in the drop spreader and clog it up. This can be a real pain and may even require you to disassemble the spreader to clear the clog.

These are some issues commonly encountered with fertilizer tow behind spreaders. With proper maintenance and care, these spreaders will help you ensure your plants get the nutrients they need to thrive.​

Why is My Fertilizer Tow Behind the Spreader Leaving Lines?

Why is My Fertilizer Tow Behind the Spreader Leaving Lines

If you’ve recently fertilized your lawn only to find that it’s now covered in unsightly lines, you may wonder what went wrong. The good news is that it’s probably not a problem with the fertilizer itself.

In most cases, the issue is simply due to the spreader being misaligned. As you make each pass, you should align the spreader to prevent stripes from appearing. If the problem persists, you may need to adjust the settings on your spreader.

Try increasing the width of the spreading pattern or reducing fertilizer application per square foot. With a little trial and error, you should be able to find a setting that will give you consistent results.

Can You Calibrate a Tow Behind Fertilizer Spreader?

In short, yes, you absolutely can calibrate your tow-behind fertilizer spreader. Depending on your model & type of granular fertilizer, the process may vary slightly, but the general idea is the same. You will need to start by measuring a specific distance (typically done in feet) and then mark that distance with a marker or flag.

Once you have your marked area, you will need to attach your fertilizer spreader to your tractor, lawn mower, or ATV and begin to drive along the marked path, ensuring that the spreader is operational the entire time.

After reaching the end of the path, you will need to measure how much fertilizer was dispensed during that time. This will give you an idea of how much fertilizer is being dispersed over a given area and allow you to make any necessary adjustments.

How to Operate the Fertilizer Tow Behind Spreader Correctly?

How to Operate the Fertilizer Tow Behind Spreader Correctly

Most fertilizer spreaders are designed to be towed behind a lawn tractor or ATV. While this can make spreading fertilizer much more accessible, it also means a greater risk of damaging your lawn if you don’t use the pull behind the spreader correctly.

Here are a few tips to help you get the most out of your fertilizer tow behind the spreader:

  • Calibrate the spreader: Make sure that the spreader is correctly calibrated before you start. By doing so, you can ensure that the fertilizer is evenly distributed.
  • Use consistent chemicals: Using powdered lawn chemicals can be tricky because they’re not always consistent in the broadcast pattern. To get the best results, stick to granular fertilizer.
  • Make two passes around non-rectangular areas: When fertilizing a rectangular area, you only need to make two passes across the short ends. But, when fertilizing a non-rectangular area, you’ll need to make two passes around the entire border.
  • Don’t go over six mph: The best speed for using a fertilizer tow behind a spreader is three mph. This will allow you to cover 100ft in 23 seconds. Regardless, don’t go over six mph, or you may not achieve the desired results.
  • Make each pass slightly overlap the previous one: To ensure even coverage, overlap the previous pass by a small amount. In this way, no areas are missed.

If you need to stop for any reason, always turn off the spreader first. Otherwise, you run the risk of overfertilizing one area of your lawn. Following these simple tips ensures that your property stays healthy and green.

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