The planting season draws ever nearer and when the weather and soil conditions say it is time to go, planters need to be ready to go. Today, John Fulton, Andrew Klopenstein, and Kaylee Port, OSU Extension Precision Agriculture, offer the following suggestions and steps to insure planters and growers are ready to roll.
Maximum yield exists when the seed is in the bag but as soon as seed is poured into the planter box, the ability of the planter to create a suitable seedbed, while providing good soil-to-seed contact at the proper depth without sidewall compaction, starts to define potential yield. Mistakes made at planting only reduce yield potential. Variations in seed metering and seed depth placement can affect uniformity of emergence and final stand counts. While some precision technology can be costly and prove difficult to determine ROI, here are some thoughts on technologies that can quickly, in most cases less than one year, pay off on your farm. First, we will provide some comments about planter and meter setup.
A key maintenance step is to have all your meters evaluated on a test stand annually. Whether new, old or never evaluated, testing your meters will help ensure proper setup and identify worn parts that may influence seed placement in the furrow. Small repairs or adjustments can greatly improve meter performance for any type of meter. Typically, there are always a few meters that need to be adjusted or worked on each year and one should expect a 98% or better singulation on the test. Here are a few key checks:
- 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 your seed opening disks for wear and proper spacing. Measure diameter and replace if too worn as outlined in 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 setup.
- Check seals on meter to insure 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 insure they have the proper spring setting. They should not be loose or excessively tight. Also, check clearance as listed within operator’s manual.
- Make sure your GPS and display are up-to-date on their firmware.
- Make sure GPS offsets and planters offsets are correct so proper clutching of rows takes place.
- 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 for the planting season.
- Check over wiring harnesses and connectors for any damage or loose connections.
- If your system allows complete a backup of machinery setup digitally on flash drive or write down setting it case of display failure. This insures that setup of a new display can happen quickly without having to go through every setup process again causing more down time.
Lastly, mobile application or APPs today can be a valuable tool or resource during planting. Always have a good weather APP to refer to during the season but the following list represents a few APPs that may be useful to your operation. Planting Population and Corn Spacing provide quick calculations to checking seed spacing at the time you are checking seed depth in the soil. You can at least determine if the planted spacing is being met.
- Mobile Pioneer by Pioneer
- Plantability by Pioneer
- Planting Pop by AgPhD
- Field Guide by AgPhD
- Climate Fieldview by the Climate Corporation
- GoPlant by John Deere
- Planter Plus by John Deere
- Ohio State PLOTS
The list provided is not all-inclusive, but many APPs exist that can be an asset during planting. If you have a smartphone, tablet, iPad or similar mobile device, take advantage of having information and tools at your fingertips.