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Here's One Piece of the Planter You May Never Think To Check

Here's One Piece of the Planter You May Never Think To Check
Seed firmers need to be in good shape to help get seed positioned where it belongs.

Once you put on Keeton seed firmers, you often don't think about them again. These beaver-tailed plastic pieces, with or without fertilizer tubes for pop-up fertilizer, can make such a big difference in planter performance that they helped launch a whole career for Gregg Sauder, founder of Precision Planting, Tremont, Ill. It was one of the first products he sold to help improve planter efficiency and to help achieve better seed placement.

Simple but crucial: Inspect seed firmers to make sure they're not worn and misshapen, Barry Fisher recommends.

Barry Fisher says that if you don't check those seed firmers on each row before each season, you might be making a mistake. Do yourself a favor and check them now, he insists. Fisher is an agronomist and precision planting specialist with the Natural Resources Conservation Service. He is a leading expert on setting up planters to perform in no-till and minimum tillage conditions. He stakes his reputation on paying attention to the details.

One detail you may overlook is the Keeton seed firmer. "They are very important in making sure the seed gets to the bottom of the trench, and each seed is where it is supposed to be," he says. "The problem can come if they're worn. They're hard plastic and they wear well, but they don't last forever."

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Fisher says that if they get rounded on the bottom or misshapen compared to their new, original shape, they may not be doing their job anymore. In fact if they're very worn, it's possible that they could actually be doing more harm than good.

"All I'm saying is that you need to inspect them from time to time," he says. "If you have them on and haven't ever paid much attention to them since you put them on, it's time to take a close look. See if they're still shaped like they should be, and if they're still doing what they're supposed to do."

How long they last will depend partly on how many acres you plant per year and the conditions you plant into. If the seed firmers are worn, replace them, Fisher recommends.

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