Jim Robbins and his nephew Mike Robbins of Peotone, Ill., recently purchased a new Case IH planter, replacing their Kinze model that also had variable-rate planting capabilities.
Jim, a 2019 Prairie Farmer Master Farmer, says investing in Precision Planting’s vDrive and vSet meters in 2016 added the variable-rate feature to their Kinze planter, and in their opinion, it was “a great investment.”
They replaced the mechanical drive with the vDrive and vSet meters. Before the variable-rate add-on, they planted corn at an average population of 35,500 seeds per acre. With the Precision Planting meters, their seeding rate average dropped to 33,000 seeds — a considerable savings with consistent and even improved yields.
Their new Case IH planter comes with Precision Planting’s DeltaForce, vDrive and vSet meters. DeltaForce is a new feature for the Robbinses. It replaces the springs or airbags on planters with hydraulic cylinders and load cells that measure how much weight is being carried on the row unit gauge wheels.
When Mike takes the new planter to the field this spring, he may set the weight at 200 pounds of pressure. With the DeltaForce feature, each unit senses pressure and will adjust automatically to keep it consistent on the gauge wheels. The goal of DeltaForce is to reduce compaction due to field conditions and place seeds at the proper depth when planting.
“The option of investing in DeltaForce for our old planter was, for us, cost prohibitive at that time, but I think once we have it, we’re not going to want to be without it,” Mike says.
“On our Kinze 24-row planter, we had three sensors: one sensor for each eight rows, forcing us to manually adjust down pressure as the planter emptied of seed,” he adds.
He says at about 20 acres into a field, the sensors would show adequate down pressure. As the seed boxes emptied during planting, the pressure would need to be adjusted manually.
“With the new planter, we have gone to a bulk fill with a weight sensor for each row, with the DeltaForce feature automatically adjusting down pressure,” Jim says.
Their new planter also includes Precision Planting clean sweeps with adjustable down pressure. Jim says it’s an improvement to the floating clean sweeps they had before.
“Since we’re planting on a strip, there isn’t that much trash there. But we want to move some of that dry soil away to level it off,” Jim says.
“Since we’re going to have cover crops on some of our farms, the advantage is, with Precision Planting clean sweeps, they can be lifted with a touch of a button, instead of lifting them all manually and wasting valuable planting time,” Mike adds.
Features such as Precision Planting’s SpeedTube and Conceal do not match with the Robbinses’ planting system currently.
“We utilize fall strip tilling for nutrition, seedbed preparation and have pop-up starter and nitrogen application with the planter in the spring,” Jim says.
Although there is much more technology available, the Robbinses conclude the bulk fill, vDrive, vSet meters, DeltaForce and clean sweep upgrades will improve their yields, reduce seed costs and save precious time during the planting season.