Looking at the calendar, spring is upon us and the focus for many growers shifts to preparation for the planting season. An important piece of equipment is the planter. Take time now to make sure the planter is in good working order, including all the mechanics as well as the technology piece for precision agriculture applications. As soon as the seed leaves the bag, yield potential begins to decline. University research on corn planting indicates that good seed-to-soil contact can provide a gain of 10 bushels/acre, and uneven emergence can reduce yields by 5 to 9%. To maximize yield potential planters must provide consistent seeding depth without compaction, support uniform emergence, maintain the target seeding rate, and provide uniform seed spacing.
This week, I’m including a planter preparation checklist from John Fulton, OSU Extension Precision Agriculture specialist.
- Check all chains and sprockets, replace as needed. All chains should be adjusted to the proper tension. Grease and oil before heading to the field, plus regularly during the planting season.
- Check opening disks for wear and proper spacing. Measure diameter and replace if too worn as outlined in the operator’s manual.
- Check bushings in parallel linkages that connect units to the maintain toolbar. Loose units will influence seed depth and fertilizer placement.
- Depth wheels need to run tight against seed opening disks. Remember depth or gauge wheels control planting depth, so look them over and make sure they are properly set up.
- Check seals on meter to ensure door seals correctly and meter outlet properly aligns with seed tube.
- Check the wear and cracks on bottom of seed tube. Cracks and wear at the bottom impact the uniformity of seed spacing.
- Look over row cleaners, checking for wear. Properly adjust height and remember row cleaners are intended to remove stover and residue out of the way for the opening disks and not to till the soil bed.
- Check closing wheels to ensure they have the proper spring setting. They should not be loose or excessively tight. Also, check clearance based on the operator’s manual recommendations.
- Make sure the firmware on the GPS receiver and display are up-to-date.
- Make sure GPS receiver offsets and planter offsets are correctly input into the display for accurate ON/OFF actuation of auto-row control and that seeding rates change in the correct location for variable-rate seeding.
- Back-up and archive past years planting data in a secure location on a farm computer, external hard drive, cloud site, or similar.
- If purchasing a differential correction, make sure your subscription is up-to-date before the planting season.
- Look over wiring harnesses and connectors for damage and loose connections.
- Note final planter and display setups by crop for future reference. This ensures that setup of a new display can happen quickly without having to go through every setup process again causing more down time.
Rory Lewandowski is an OSU Extension Agriculture & Natural Resources Educator and may be reached at 330-264-8722.
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