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New planters offer higher performance at higher speeds

Farmers sometimes find planting to be tedious because of the slow speeds they have to travel to maintain proper seed spacing. But growers may soon be able to increase planter speeds – without sacrificing planter accuracy – using new equipment.

Michael Sharpe, integrated solutions specialist for Tennessee Tractor LLC, in Greenfield, Tenn., talked about new developments in planting equipment during one of the stops at the University of Tennessee’s Milan No-Till Field Day in Milan, Tenn., July 24.

“What’s this going to do for me – why do I want this?” said Sharpe, displaying a new seed dispensing unit from a John Deere planter. “No. 1, it is a high speed planter; it will plant up to 10 mph. At 10 mph, the coefficient of variation on this planter is under .33.”

Studies show that on a conventional planter when the coefficient of variation, a measure of variability, of the planter’s output, is above .33, it will hurt yields or have a negative impact on seed spacing. Anything below .33 doesn’t seem to have an effect on plant spacing or yield, Sharpe noted.

“This new ExactEmerge planter actually has been running in the .13 range at 10 mph so we’re well below that threshold of affecting yields,” he said.

At faster speeds, growers cover more ground, stay in the optimum planting window, get the crop in the ground and are better able to take advantage of favorable weather at planting. Faster speeds will mean growers can use smaller planters, which make it easier to move in and out of fields and easier to transport but still cover the same number of acres.

“You can have the best of both worlds,” said Sharpe. “If you’re pulling a 60-foot planter now, you can pull a 40-foot one of these. You can plant more crop but have a smaller planter that’s easier to get in and out of the field.”

On the other hand, farmers will need larger tractors to pull the new planters.

“The same size planter you’re pulling now at 5 mph will take more horsepower to pull at 10 mph,”There will be some minimum horsepower requirements along with minimum per-gallon flows with the hydraulic system.”

For more on the planting equipment, visit



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