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Check Out Hydraulic Capacity Before Add Gizmos on Planters, Equipment

Check Out Hydraulic Capacity Before Add Gizmos on Planters, Equipment

Older tractors may have trouble delivering performance you need.

Some of the tractors you still use on your farm, even those built in the mid-1980's, were made before anyone ever heard of using GPS in farming, yield monitors, or row clutches for independent, automatic row shut-off. In simple terms, engineers who built those tractors couldn't foresee all the possible equipment that might come along that would require extra hydraulic capacity.

Planter power- Changing to hydraulic drive on this small planter pushed the tractor to its limits on hydraulic power.

If you buy or revamp a planter and equip it with lots of gizmos, for example, you likely aren't intending to trade for a new tractor at the same time. How well you get along may depend upon how much homework you do in advance. Can your tractor provide the pressure and flow needed to power the new functions that tie into the hydraulics? Dennis Buckmaster, Extension professor at Purdue University's School of Ag and Biological Engineering, says that pressure may not be an issue, but flow may be for older tractors.

His solution is relatively simple, at least in theory. Work with a dealer who has competent, trained people who know about hydraulics. Determine the pressure and flow needs of the new planter or of your existing planter after the add-ons, and then check the owner's manual on your tractor for the same information. Does it provide enough flow to meet or exceed your demands?

One farmer who switched a finger –pick up planter to an air system through a short-line supplier this spring found that when he hooked it to his mid-'80s tractor, which had handled the planter before, he was having problems, especially when reaching the ends and turning. After two days of frustration, he switched to a late '90's tractor, and although he lost a couple hours of prime planting time, the new tractor ran the planter perfectly.

What he found frustrating was that the advice he go ton how to fix his problem without changing tractors depended on which dealer he called, and ranged all the way from a $400 fix to a $60 fix. Since he wasn't sure any of the suggested changes in valves and other fixes would work, he switched planters instead, and suddenly fell in love with his new planter setup.

If you're considering making a major change in equipment, on a planter for example, for next season, perhaps adding hydraulic controls, for example, check in advance to make sure the tractor you want to use can deliver the hydraulic pressure and force needed to operate the reconfigured equipment. Make sure your dealer understands you're serious, and won't make the change unless you are sure that hydraulic power won't be an issue.
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