Planter performance linked to operator awareness

Ray Mueller
Now Media Group


With a new crop seeding season only a few weeks away, a workshop on planter maintenance and operation was timed to alert farmers and others involved in crop production about the importance of maintaining equipment and knowing its operating features.

Sponsored by the Northeast Wisconsin farm demonstration network, the Natural Resource Conservation Service, area equipment dealers, and farm equipment manufacturers, the workshop drew a crowd of 110 to a shed on the Wiese Brothers farm in southern Brown County.

In briefings before a walk through to learn about the specifics on array of planter units brought to the site for the workshop, representatives of Eis Implement at rural Two Rivers in Manitowoc County outlined some of the general points that planter equipment owners and operators ought to tend to before heading onto the fields.

Planter pointers

Among the pointers they shared are having the coulters fitted and properly used for the field conditions, the difference between rigid and floating row cleaners, being sure that seed disks have a full circumference, replacing them whenever necessary and checking the spacing. It was noted that seed firmers could be used to attach two different fertilizers to seeds.

Gauge wheels need attention because of their significant role in assuring consistency in the depth of seed placement and for avoiding the creation of sidewalls while closing wheels differ in style and need to be chosen to fit the situation. One suggestion was to use drag chains to cover an application of 28 percent liquid urea.

Whether the process is pneumatic or hydraulic, sufficient down force is needed on the planter, it was pointed out. The Eis representatives also outlined a 10-point pre-plant checklist that covers annual maintenance items such as calibrations, replacement of worn out parts and measurements of other parts.

No-till drill tips

Great Plains company representative Trevor Dybevik described some of the differences between the company's grain drills which come in widths of 5 to 50 feet. On the larger units, there is up to a $30,000 price difference between no-till drills and the conventional types, he pointed out.

That difference is due to the extra weight and more reinforcements in those drills because they must be able to perform in no-till settings following field travel by a combine or chopper, Dybevik explained. He also noted that conventional drills can be converted in order to provide sufficient down force in those situations.

As an alternative to making two or three passes on a field to plant a large mix of cover crops, Dybevik suggested installing agitators in seed boxes in order to maintain a proper and distribution of seeds of various sizes and weights.

Seed boxes should not be filled when combining multiple types of seeds. He also noted that air drills are acceptable for seeding cover crops but not for other crops.

Operating limits

Representing the Kinze company, Jason Kirchner warned farmers not to be tempted to boost their field traveling speed to 10 miles per hour because such a speed is appropriate only in ideal settings. He noted that Kinze has planters starting at 4 rows. It brought a 16-row unit for workshop attendees to inspect.

Both Great Plains and Kinze product lines are available at Gruett's of Potter, which was another of the implement dealers bringing units to the event. The host Wiese Brothers farm also had some of its equipment on display for the walking tour by attendees.