Getting into the field for a media event is a rarity these days, but recently Farm Progress got the chance to turn some dirt and talk farm equipment with the folks at Kinze. This was a chance to catch up on some new tools that had been announced earlier this year, and see them at work in the field.
And the event wasn’t without some fun. From riding in a John Deere 8370RT tractor pulling a new Kinze 4905 planter with True Speed units and Blue Advantage controls at nearly 12 mph, to cutting through some corn debris to check the tillage power of a new Mach Till 301, a good time was had by all.
The event was an opportunity to do a deeper dive on a new high-speed seed metering system that brings some innovation to a crowded field of faster-moving planters. The True Speed system, which Kinze developed in cooperation with Ag Leader, brings many different features to the planter market, including a precision seed metering system with several interesting features.
Rethinking the seed meter
Brad Nienstaedt, product specialist, electronics, Kinze, offered a briefing on the new features that make up the True Speed system. For many, at first glance, the meter on top with a tube below may look familiar, but Kinze has added a range of its own innovations to the system.
“True Speed provides 100% seed control, from delivery to the seed trench,” he explains.
One feature Nienstaedt notes is that the new system is not just a high-speed system, since “fast” means something different for each crop. “Everybody thinks high-speed is 8, 9 or 10 miles an hour. But what is high-speed to some farmers might be 6 mph. We provide a meter solution that no matter where you are as far as terrain, from 3 to 12 miles an hour, we want to provide good singulation,” he explains.
He talks about the coefficient of variation, which shows that if you’re planting at 99% accuracy but singulation isn’t accurate, you’ll get bunching and an uneven stand. The key is getting that picket fence of stalks in a cornfield, and getting that result at higher speed — yet providing the same performance when you hit a tough spot and must slow to 3 mph.
For 2021, the 4905 planter with True Speed has a new mini-hopper design that features a built-in kickstand, so it stays open when you flip the lid. That makes service and cleanout out for a crop change easier.
The meter design itself is different from what you might expect. The meter sits perpendicular to the row unit. “The reason for that is, it allows for superior loading, no matter your terrain,” Nienstaedt says.
The perpendicular design also allows seed to release at the 6 o’clock position at the bottom of the meter. “This provides a flat face for the brush wheel on our delivery tube, and it allows the seed to come off the meter at its lowest point,” Nienstaedt explains.
That center-bottom drop position also allows the Kinze machine to maintain a consistent vacuum seal in the meter housing. That vacuum seal is a perfect circle around the meter disk, which, he adds, extends the service life of that seal because there are no places where debris can enter.
That meter disk will get a farmer’s attention. The new design features a kind of seed “backrest” that can position the seed more consistently for easier release when it reaches the drop area at the bottom of the meter.
There are also small “dimples” near the seed hole that help keep doubles from being dropped into the tube, and help with singulation and accuracy. A brush and a peg push the seed from the disk into the row unit, which Nienstaedt says can be aggressive due to the disk’s design.
Less maintenance for a seed tube
At first glance, the meter tube for the True Speed meter may appear “familiar” to farmers, but Kinze has taken the idea of a belted seed delivery system and offers its own take on the idea. The belt uses Kevlar and is under little pressure.
That means you can clean the planter when the season ends, and park it without the need to remove those belts (once clean). That can be a maintenance hassle. In addition, there’s little extra tension on that belt, which also adds to performance life.
As for maintaining those row units, they feature tool-less assembly — so parts replacement or service is simple, and on reassembly everything locks into place.
The brush wheel, which is releasing seed from disk to row unit, gets plenty of seed contact. The twin-brush design is built for durability, but is also a $48 replacement part when it finally wears down. “That compares to a [much higher] price for competitive units,” Nienstaedt notes.
And to keep that brush clean even as treated seed flows by, there’s an integrated comb. For Kinze, the devil is the details. Another detail is the honeycomb design of the seed unit, which provides structural rigidity with less material. Nienstaedt noted that emulating nature made sense.
Two years ago, Kinze launched the Blue Vantage planter control system, which provides a high level of control on management of the planter. But as Nienstaedt notes, the system is also designed for simple initiation when planting starts.
During a demonstration, he showed that farmers not interested in collecting data, but focused on planting, can simply turn on the system (a ruggedized Android-based tablet), select the crop and hit “plant.” Of course, farmers can do a lot more by loading information about the field, the exact hybrid and more; but the high-speed planter, and its 4705 cousin, can simply be told to hit the field and plant.
There have been software upgrades for 2021, including control of the True Depth hydraulic downforce system right from the planter. And there are more integrations with major players like The Climate Corporation and Ag Leader SMS. Work is well underway for an integration with the John Deere Operations Center, too.
The company also showed off its narrow-transport Mach Till machine, showing the 301 to media who maintained social distance. The original Mach Till machines, when folded, were 20 feet wide (for larger models), which was a challenge for farmers in some parts of the country. The new unit folds to 13 feet wide, but offers plenty of coverage for the field.
During the event, Eric Broadbent, senior director of sales, Kinze, noted that the machine is becoming popular for farmers right ahead of planters. The cross-cut design of the machine, with notched blades up front, and disks behind, followed by a furrowed rubber wheel, provides a smooth bed of soil ready to take seed.
To learn more about all these new tools from the company, visit kinze.com.