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Horsch planter advances electric-drive technology

Horsch planter advances electric-drive technology

Horsch, a German-based company with manufacturing in the U.S., entered the planter market last year. The company reports that sales of its inaugural planter called the Maestro have been through the roof. “Right now, our North American models are all sold out,” says product representative Jesse Kappenman. “It has been a huge success and is a very sought-after product.”

As Farm Industry News reported last October, the planter got attention for its electric-motor-driven metering system. Kappenman says Horsch is the only mainline planter manufacturer to offer electric drives on each row unit as standard equipment.

“Horsch decided it wanted to make a precision planter that was better than the rest,” Kappenman says. “And they feel they have a better design with electric row units to get better seed spacing. And you can plant any type of seed with these meters.”

Kappenman says electric drives create less vibration than mechanical systems that use drive-shafts, chains, sprockets or cables. Less vibration, he says, allows for seed to be planted more evenly. Travel speeds also can be increased.

This year, new for model year 2013, the company is using a hydraulic-driven pump to control the flow of liquid fertilizer in different sections of the planter.

“The planter will offer six-section liquid control,” Kappenman says. “So on a 24-row planter, every four rows will turn on and off automatically to meter liquid fertilizer based on the planter’s GPS location.”

Horsch’s Maestro planter has been in production for the last two years in Europe. “We North Americanized it to fit this market,” Kappenman says. “It is a liquid system, whereas the German design is dry. We built this unit for North America.”

The planter is equipped with hydraulic down pressure as standard so it rides smoother than planters equipped with springs or airbags, he adds. It also is ISOBUS-compatible, which means it is designed to operate with any brand of tractor.

The 24-row unit comes with 140-bu. capacity of seed and 1,000 gal. of liquid fertilizer to reduce the number of fill-ups.

The company will unveil this new capability at the 2013 National Farm Machinery Show. Price of the Maestro will be comparable to the price of other 24-row planters on the market. Its suggested list price is around $200,000 for a model equipped with liquid fertilizer capability.

Kappenman says the electric-driven meters will open the door for other capabilities. “There will be more to come,” he says. “I can’t say. But we will see more from electric-motor drive in the future.”

The company also is working on new tillage tools that it plans to release this spring.

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Next: Read about seven features that are automating planting.

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