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3 key choices to make before planter is ready to roll3 key choices to make before planter is ready to roll

Preparing the seed bed, metering the seed accurately and closing the slot are three key components.

Tom Bechman 1

March 30, 2016

3 Min Read

Is your planter ready to roll? Are you sure? You might want to take a second look at three key components before planting day arrives.

A couple years ago Clint Arnholt, Columbus, brought home a new John Deere planter and then customized it to fit his needs in his own shop. He looked at several key areas.

Since he does primarily no-till, often into cover crop or cover crop residue, none were more important that making sure he could clear away residue for seed placement, choosing the right metering system to drop the seed and equipping the planter to close the slot after the seed was placed.

Here’s a closer look at these three key areas:

1. How will you prepare the row area?


Both major manufacturers and short-line companies offer an abundance of choices for residue wheels. Arnholt selected these tredder-style wheels when he put his planter together. Most say the important part is to know how much residue you want to remove, and what kind of seedbed you want the seed openers which follow the residue wheels working in. If you don’t have residue wheels and want to add them, you can choose from systems that require manual adjustment, or systems that lift and position residue wheels, either hydraulically or electrically.

3 key choices to make before planter is ready to roll

CHOOSE ROW CLEANERS: This planter is equipped with just one of many options for row cleaners.

2. Choose your metering system

Electric control of row units is picking up steam. If you haven’t looked closely at upgrading to electric meters yet, you may want to do so. Several companies offer various options that allow you to upgrade row units so that you can control them electrically, eliminating a lot of moving parts including the drive chain; and providing you with much more precise control of every planter row.

3 key choices to make before planter is ready to roll

PICK DRIVE FOR METERING SYSTEM: You can choose from mechanical, hydraulic and electric drive (shown) for row units today.

3. How will you close the slot?

There are tons of options here, and more every year. Beck’s tests various types of closing wheel under tacky conditions in no-till. Two years ago they used a six-row planter with a different set of closing wheels on each one. Last year they went to an eight-row planter with eight types of closing wheel setups. Theree are still more choices that they haven’t tried yet. See their website and Practical Farm Research for more details about which closing wheel performed best in their tests. Hint- the same wheel doesn’t win every year.

3 key choices to make before planter is ready to roll

MAKE YOUR CHOICE: Clint Arnholt chose this pair of wheels when he set up his planter. Some people use two different wheels on each row. Often they’re trying to cover all bases, in case soils are wetter or direr than they like at planting.

About the Author(s)

Tom Bechman 1

Editor, Indiana Prairie Farm

Tom Bechman is an important cog in the Farm Progress machinery. In addition to serving as editor of Indiana Prairie Farmer, Tom is nationally known for his coverage of Midwest agronomy, conservation, no-till farming, farm management, farm safety, high-tech farming and personal property tax relief. His byline appears monthly in many of the 18 state and regional farm magazines published by Farm Progress.

"I consider it my responsibility and opportunity as a farm magazine editor to supply useful information that will help today's farm families survive and thrive," the veteran editor says.

Tom graduated from Whiteland (Ind.) High School, earned his B.S. in animal science and agricultural education from Purdue University in 1975 and an M.S. in dairy nutrition two years later. He first joined the magazine as a field editor in 1981 after four years as a vocational agriculture teacher.

Tom enjoys interacting with farm families, university specialists and industry leaders, gathering and sifting through loads of information available in agriculture today. "Whenever I find a new idea or a new thought that could either improve someone's life or their income, I consider it a personal challenge to discover how to present it in the most useful form, " he says.

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