Equipment Prep: 5 Steps to Get Ready for the Planting Season
By: Justin Taylor, Sales Manager, Growers
Are you overwhelmed by the amount of data your precision ag equipment generates? If so, you’re not alone.
Are you looking to get a high yield this planting season?
Of course you are.
Every farmer wants to improve crop yield. But the problem lies in maximizing your space and time. You want to get the correct rate of seed, in the right place, on the optimum date – before bad weather strikes.
In fact, one misplaced seed can immediately affect your yield potential before it’s even sprouted out of the ground.
Thankfully, the secret to planting early and planting effectively isn’t to outwork everyone else.
Instead, you need to prepare your equipment before the planting season and reduce the risk of a costly breakdown.
While you can’t control the weather, this will provide you a better shot at getting your seeds in the ground when your soil is ready.
Here are the 5 steps (most commonly overlooked by farmers) you should take to get your planter ready before the planting season starts.
1. Measure the wear of your seed opener disks
If you want your seed to be placed at the appropriate depth, you need to check the wear and diameter of your opener disks.
First, place a business card on the top side of where the disks meet. Slide the card down until it stops. Then, take another business card and do the same thing, sliding upward from the bottom. Move the business cards as close together as possible and measure the distance between where both stop.
For proper performance, this should be about 2 inches (refer to your operator manual for the minimum diameter).
If yours don’t meet correctly, then they need to be adjusted or, most likely, replaced.
2. Check drive shaft, chains, and sprockets
Most importantly, remember to grease your chains and sprockets regularly.
To check that everything is working properly, spin the drive shaft, and while turning, check that all sprockets and chains are turning freely. If not, adjust or replace the component.
Also, if you’re using hydraulic or electric driven planters, put the drives in manual (or test mode with a test speed similar to your field condition speed). While it’s turned on, check that all drives are putting seed out of the seed tube.
3. Test and clean all your meters
Every winter, your meters should be taken apart and cleaned with soapy water. Replace any broken or worn parts as needed, and then test your meters.
Many companies will test your meters on a test stand where they can get extremely accurate readings on meter performance. We recommend doing this once a year.
If you’re using Keeton Seed Firmers, we recommend replacing them every year before the planting season starts.
4. Check gauge wheels
Check your gauge wheels for wear. They should turn smoothly without wobble, and make sure they’re just barely off of the disk openers. If they’re not properly adjusted, they could push up dirt and cause a trench with poor uniformity.
If the soil is being pushed in, it could result in variable seed depth and/or poor seed soil contact. Because the emergence won’t be uniform, both could hurt your yield potential.
5. Adjust pressure springs
Finally, your pressure springs need to be properly adjusted for proper seed placement and contact with the soil in the trench.
If using hydraulic or air down force, check all your hydraulic lines, down pressure, compressors, and air lines for leaks.
Prep today for a better planting season
If you want a chance at a higher yield, you need to start leveraging risks today.
Instead of just relying on the weather to hold out, you can reduce the risk of a costly breakdown and be ready to go when your soil is right.
Check all your planter parts for wear and tear, and test your meters and drives for optimum performance.
Preparing your equipment for the planting season is a sure fire way to achieve a more consistent and accurate seed placement and improve your base-line yield potential for the whole growing season.