One farmer is already decided he's going no-till next year to cover more acres and save time. He wants to be planting when he has windows like the mid-April window, and not working ground. He'll need a different planer, either new or recently used, but his big question is which features he'll need. It's the options that can add cost, but also the options that can determine if he gets the performance he expects form his planter.
Here are some possibilities. Perhaps you can add more to the list.
Monitor- Some type of monitor is almost a given these days. The question is how sophisticated do you want it to be? Do you want the company-option model, or do you want to add a monitor-controller like Seed-Sense 20-20 from Precision Planting?
While planting is on everyone's mind, now might be a good time to ask neighbors what they're using. Is knowing the approximate populations and rather a row quits or not enough, or is there other information you need?
GPS- This is more of a tractor option, but might be a factor in the planter decisions. Are you going to want GPS so you can run without markers? Do you still need markers? If you're going GPS, do you need either RTK or the new Slingshot cellular technology form Raven? Are you in an area where you can hook up to a network providing the RTK or Slingshot signal. ET Equipment, Mooresville, Ind., in the process of establishing a network for the cellular technology in the heart of the eastern Corn Belt.
The jury remains out on WAAS as a guidance signal for planting. Some claim they get along well using only WAAS. Others claim that if they use it for guidance or run auto-steering off WAAS, they are as much as 8 inches off center from pass to pass. For most people planting corn, that's more than they're comfortable with.
Hydraulics, etc- Will you need any special equipment to hook the planter up to the tractor you have and allow it to run efficiently. Are there extra options you will need because your tractor is older and perhaps doesn't have the hydraulic capacity some of the new planters demand. Or will your planter tractor handle the planter without any modifications?
There are still more options to consider – stay tuned.