Planter is most important piece of equipment on the farm

• There are six agronomic principles of optimized planting growers should consider when buying a new planter: proper seed depth; uniform seed depth across the planter and throughout the field; good soil-to-seed contact; uniform soil pressure all around the seed; accurate seed population; and accurate in-row seed spacing.

 “The planter is the most important piece of equipment on your farm, hands down,” says Bill Hoeg, Case IH planter sales and marketing manager in North America.

“If planting isn’t optimized — if the seed isn’t planted in a way that maximizes yield potential — that immediately impacts your profitability and should be the No. 1 consideration when purchasing a new planter. No. 2 is planter reliability: You can’t afford to have your planter slow you down during your limited planting window.”

Hoeg cites six agronomic principles of optimized planting growers should consider when buying a new planter: proper seed depth; uniform seed depth across the planter and throughout the field; good soil-to-seed contact; uniform soil pressure all around the seed; accurate seed population; and accurate in-row seed spacing.

He says a lot of planter manufacturers focus only on in-row seed spacing and accurate populations, “because quite honestly, accurate population and in-row seed spacing are the easiest to impact. But those are only two factors. A planter should be able to deliver on all six agronomic principles right out of the box. It shouldn’t require hundreds of dollars of additional equipment on each row to improve planter performance,” Hoeg advises. “Don’t get caught up in the hype.” 

“Agronomically, it’s not complicated. If you plant at the right depth, seed will emerge faster. Plant at a uniform depth, and it’ll all come up together. That gives you the best opportunity to maximize yields. Good soil-to-seed contact provides the best environment for seed to germinate. Uniform seed pressure is the hardest to affect, but you want to influence soil pressure on all sides of the seed to maximize moisture conductivity to the seed,” he adds.

When it comes to seed population and accurate seed spacing, Hoeg says every planter has operating rules.

“As long as you stay within those rules, you can get respectable results. I suggest the Early Riser planter does a better job, because we have a wider working range within each of those rules. We have a pull-gauge wheel, which allows the row unit to operate much more smoothly in rough fields.

“We also have the largest diameter seed disk. A bigger disk doesn’t have to turn as fast, so we can remain in an optimum operating range even in adverse conditions. Therefore, we can plant a wider range of populations and seed size more accurately at faster speeds.”

According to Hoeg, a planter should also be designed to maximize time spent in the field. “The more time you’re forced to spend handling daily maintenance and making adjustments, the less time you’ll have to plant.

“And once you’re in the field, how many adjustments will you have to make every day to keep your planter operating at its best? Are the seed meter and vacuum/air systems sensitive to humidity changes, adverse ground conditions or different seed sizes? If there are four different seed plates you have to change just to handle corn hybrids, that’s going to slow you down,” he notes.

Hoeg says the size and type of operation are also key factors. “If you have livestock to care for in addition to cash crops, you may need to size the planter differently, because there are fewer hours in the day available for planting. A lot also depends on the type of crop being planted.

“With some crops, you can’t use a 90-foot planter, like with cotton, so you’ll need to cover more acres with a smaller planter. Transport width may also be a determining factor for growers who have multiple farms and different locations — or for those who simply have to deal with a narrow bridge nearby.”

Other considerations are based on individual farming practices.

“What inputs do you want to use, how do you want to apply them and in what types of soil? How much time do you have to get it all done? What system do you want to use to fill the planter so you can minimize non-planting time? Are there going to be multiple operators running the planter? If so, ease of use becomes even more important. 

“Even if you have big square fields, and there aren’t any waterways or other obstructions that cause you to plant in irregular rows, you will want to take advantage of the advanced systems that bigger planters offer,” Hoeg continues. “You’ll likely want AFS (Case IH Advanced Farming Systems), row shut-offs, driving guides and mapping capabilities to help you utilize every square inch of ground. Irregularly shaped fields with waterways and terraces only enhance the need for these advanced systems.

“There are all kinds of nuances that factor into which planter model and options you need. That’s why Case IH offers different models, configurations, options and capabilities, from 15-foot to 90-foot Early Riser planters,” he concludes.

For more information about Early Riser planters, including demonstrations on how to create an ideal seed trench, how to achieve early, even emergence, and the benefits of pull- vs. push-gauge wheels, call your local Case IH dealer or visit http://www.CaseIH.com.

 

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