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Rethinking planter design

Slideshow: In a first look, we get up close and personal with the new Fendt Momentum planter.

Note: This report includes a video at the end that explains key features and shows the planter in action in the field.

When you first walk up to a new Momentum planter, be prepared for a “what the heck” moment, as you see that the planter brings a lot of new approaches to planting. From its out-front wheels to the segmented planter bars, this global machine is going to capture a lot of attention as farmers get their first looks.

The Momentum name for the new Fendt planter from Agco was announced during the 2019 Farm Progress Show, but during that announcement, there was little information about the new machine.

“We started with a true clean-sheet design,” says Rex Schertz, engineering manager, seeding and tillage, Agco. “And this is a global design that has to work in all markets.”

Farm Progress got a first look at the new planter in the factory where the machine will be built — in Beloit, Kan. The factory, originally a Sunflower tillage facility, still makes tillage tools. It also builds White Planters and a range of parts for the Hesston, Kan., hay tool facility, however, and it became part of Agco in 2002. Since then, Agco has invested in the plant with new tools and manufacturing technologies.

Alex Lundgren, manager, global crop care, seeding and tillage, shared some key facts about the planter’s chief design features. There are many features of the new design farmers will want to learn more about, and clicking through the slides offers that opportunity. But a key design factor is the Smart Frame Technology of the Momentum planter.

Rethinking the frame

“This planter has its wheels in front, which means it creates no pinch rows,” Lundgren says. “The planter is carried on in-line tandem wheels near the center so the planter floats as if on tracks, but at a lower cost.”

Wheels on the planter are outfitted with VF tires standard to carry the load. An optional flotation system will use load cells and speed sensors to assure that the tire pressure is always right for the job at hand, whether over the road or in the field. That system also uses hydraulic cylinders on the frame for optimum weight distribution.

Schertz notes that the outside wheels for the planter can be set far outside the planter to provide controlled traffic since the outboard wheels would be riding in the same track as they would on the return pass through the field.

Those in-line tandem wheels are strategically placed to be behind the tractor tires as it pulls the planter through the field. “The most compaction happens on the first pass. We’re following the tractor with the bulk of the planter and supporting it with the in-line tandem wheels,” Schertz says.

He also points to the tandem design with a larger wheel behind. In addition, the “pivot point” of the tandem frame is rear-weighted on the bigger tire. That provides this planter more stability when moving through tough conditions. This design helps ensure that if you hit a mud hole, the machine will ride right over it.

As for that planter, “ride” is the key feature of the Momentum, with its ability to move with the contour of the land. Each row unit has 16 inches of travel. And the row units are sectioned across the length of the planter. For the 32-row machine on 15-inch centers, there are three sections linked to the forward-positioned carriage.

“Essentially, this is three planters, with each section running independently as the machine goes across the field,” Schertz says. “That provides significantly better ground following and seed placement versus conventional-wheeled planters with a fixed frame."

Familiar planter units

The Momentum is powered by Precision Planting components. In fact, at first from the back, the planter looks familiar — given that each row unit is from that Agco-owned division. Yet even here there are innovations.

“We offer the vSet units for this planter, but we also allow farmers to outfit the planter the way they want to,” says Lundgren. “A planter’s setup is a personal choice.”

The forward-wheel-rearward row unit design opens space for row units. This is a global planter, and in some countries, farmers like to put down dry fertilizer with a shank ahead of the row unit. This planter can accommodate that.

There are other Precision Planting options that will work with this machine; buyers can work with their Agco dealer to pull it all together.

Each row unit, however, is in a parallelogram frame designed to be kept level, even as the planter bar moves up and down through the field. This provides consistent seed-to0soil contact, Lundgren says. Potentiometers along the toolbar in the parallel frame communicate to the planter’s controls; if something goes “out,” the cylinders from the Smart Frame adjust to help keep things level.

The new Fendt Momentum planter will be available for ordering in mid-2020. Initially, there will be eight models including 16-, 24-, 32-, 36- and 48-row configurations, with row spacings of 15, 20, 22 and 30 inches. All will come standard with the 1,000-gallon liquid fertilizer tank. The central fill system includes two 65-bushel hoppers using a smooth design for easy cleanout. Lundgren says with both hoppers full, you can plant about 297 acres of corn at 35,000 population.

The Momentum will be officially introduced at Commodity Classic in February. Learn more at fendt.com.

 

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