Farm Industry News

High-speed planting gets simpler and more precise

A pioneer of electric meters and fast planting, Horsch is stepping up its game again.

Willie Vogt

January 13, 2023

4 Min Read
SX Maestro planter from Horsch
NEW PLANTER: Horsch is launching the Maestro SX, which features a positive-pressure singulation system that keeps airflow pushing the seed all the way to the ground for high-speed planting.Photos courtesy of Horsch

German equipment innovator Horsch LLC was the first to market with an electric meter planter several years ago. Going into 2023, the company will be rolling out its latest high-speed planting machine — the Maestro SX.

In a recent interview with Farm Progress, Jeremy Hughes, product manager at Horsch, discusses the planter and dispels some myths about high-speed planting.

At first glance, the new planter unit does have a seed tube, but this system is working in a new way that brings simplicity of design at the same time it boosts precision.

“We’re using positive pressure with this system,” Hughes explains. “We only need one fan to convey seed from the tank to the meters, and we can use the same pressure for singulation. It’s pretty simple to adjust the airflow from tank and deliver seed for singulation.”

The pressurized seed tube, which also pushes seed against the seed disk, uses airflow to essentially “shoot” the seed down the tube for increased precision. The planter no longer relies on gravity once the seed leaves the disk. The Horsch design includes an air tube that “circles down” to connect above the seed tube. As the disk rotates, the air grabs the seed and pushes it down the tube precisely.

“With the seed tube being pressurized, you don’t get seed tube bounce,” Hughes says.

He says a myth of high-speed planting is that you can’t go fast with a traditional planter because of seed tube bounce. The pressurized seed tube approach of the SX, combined with the pioneering long-used hydraulic downforce and weight transfer system of a Maestro planter, creates a sturdy high-speed system.

Seed disks for the planter vary by crop, but there’s one feature the local dealer will like. The SX planter uses the same disks as the SV planter. “From a dealer standpoint, that means you only have to keep one set of disks on the shelf,” Hughes says.

Keeping it simple

Another myth of high-speed planting is the need for complex motors, belts and brushes, but the SX offers a simpler design. “The benefit of positive pressure is that it simplifies the system,” Hughes says. “We need one less full hydraulic unit, and you only need one fan, which is easier to adjust when dialing in your air.”

The SX launched in the middle of the pandemic in Europe and in parts of Africa, Hughes says. What the company discovered is that the positive-pressure system was simple for a high-speed design. Horsch also worked out all the seed-handling issues for a variety of crops in those markets.

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For 2023, Horsch is planning a soft launch with 24-row, 30-inch machines and 16-row, 30-inch planters. “We’re looking at the Corn Belt in the Northern Plains, and we’ll be holding a season-long demonstration [and] launch for select customers to run the machines,” Hughes says. “We’ll have a full launch in this market in 2024.”

Those “demo” units will feature a central-fill design and be outfitted with liquid fertilizer systems for in-furrow application.

Hughes calls the SX a next-level planting system. Its use of positive pressure, versus the more common vacuum approach, has simplified the machine’s design while boosting accuracy.

He says in European and U.S. tests comparing the SX with other high-speed machines running at 10 mph or higher showed the new Horsch unit “met or exceeded the more complex high-speed systems hands down,” Hughes says. “These were numerous coefficient-of-variation benchmark studies, counting and measuring plants for 200 feet at the two- to three-leaf stage. And if there was a skip, we found that it was likely seed mortality.”

Horsch is rolling out HorschConnect, a telematics system the company slowly rolled out in 2022. Hughes explains it’s an app-based system that will allow for remote diagnostics for planters, and even allow you to check meters off the back of the planter more easily.

To learn more about the Maestro SX planter, or Horsch Connect, visit horsch.com.

 

About the Author(s)

Willie Vogt

Executive Director, Content and User Engagement, Farm Progress

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