Thursday, March 26, 2009

Improve Your Planter

At the risk of boring my non-farm friends I have to address my farm friend followers who are trying to no-till or improve what they are doing.

I put this piece on NAT thanks to Daniel Davidson at DTN and contributors.

"Dave Moeller with Moeller Ag Service in Keota, Iowa is very active in checking and rebuilding planters and seed meters and is a dealer for Precision Planting. His advice always starts with the meter.

"Have finger pickup meters inspected and then run on a seed meter using seed of similar size and shape that you will plant. Finger pickup meters need to turn 60 to 65 rpm in the field so adjust your (ground) speed so that you are running in that range," said Moeller. By running the meters on a test stand, Moeller can provide his customers we a recommended speed range for each seed source.

Moeller said to check that double disc openers are within specifications, Discs come new at 15-inch diameter and should be replaced when they wear down to 14.5 inches. He also suggests testing the edge. "Disc edges get dull so check and see if the beveled edge has become rounded," said Moeller. "You can quickly put an edge on discs using a die grinder and mounting the disc's spindle in a vice so that the disc turns as you hold the grinder in a set position."

Lastly growers need to check their double disc opening. Use a business card or old credit card and slide it along the open slot between the two discs through from base of two discs. The opening should be about 2 to 2.5 inches long right below the seed tube. If discs are worn, they will be too wide at the bottom resulting in a ‘w’ bottom and seed will not be placed at the bottom of the furrow.

Moeller said the length of the opening depends on the thickness of the disc. "Newer blades are 3.5 mm thick and the opening slot should range from 1 to 1.5 inches. The thinner 3.0 mm blades carry a length of 1.5 to 2 inches. John Deere still recommends to 2 to 2.5 inch length."

"Keeton Seed Firmers help push the seed to the bottom of the furrow," said Moeller "And they are a must in no-till and when using spader closing wheels."

If you already have a set of Keeton, Moeller suggests testing them with planter down and lifting the tail of Keeton with a hook attached to a fish scale. When the Keeton just clears the surface it should require 1 pound pressure. If your Keetons have lost some of their down pressure, he reminds growers that they can buy the Mojo Wire from Exapta Solutions. "They can add 3 to 5 pounds of down pressure to the seed firmer."

Lastly the enlarged end of the Keetons can ball up, look like a drumstick if the soil is moist and sticky and ride out of the furrow. Moeller suggests trimming down the end of the firmer so that it is about three inches shorter while still having enough firming length.

Tomorrow comes his recommendations on row cleaners, gauge wheels and post planting evaluation.

Another good quote:

"Many do not seem to understand,they have not experienced the thrill of notillers successfully planting in near free water conditions.I agree with them though, planting in Plains dust, RID tires would have little value. When planting 2 inches or deeper (and many do in Kansas and Nebraska) a few seeds could be found off under the sidewall. This is seldom seen at slightly shallower planting depths. Adding RK products POLY WINGS to the RK products seed tube guard mimics the CIH row unit setup.

It is surprising that fans of RK products do not mention this fix. Seeds now get guided 100% to the bottom of the Vee. This simple cheap fix totally address's any seed versus sidewall issues. Taking advantage of the RID tire design as well as other advance's in row unit weight control technologies allows the modern day no-tiller to open the planting window further than ever before. When solid flat depth control tires press down at the same instant as the opening disc wedge the soil open, side wall compaction starts to form. This action has an intended compounding effect. The effect was designed to squeeze air pockets out of dried out cloddy tilled soils of yesteryear and create a true Vee

In wet high clay soils this intended action was a curse for past no-till hopefuls. Modern day attachments and technologies reverse this intended action. Leaving the soil loose and aerated above the seed allows for quick warm-up. Mixed messages add confusion to many would be no-tillers .Experts work with people all over the nation not just in one area. We all need to work to understand why and how different ideas work."

Refer to my past posts on no-till and planting for more information, especially those new to these subjects. I am traveling to Cardington Ohio today to share my ideas with farmers from that area.

These no-till conferences pay great dividends for me. I trust this information update on planter setups is helpful to those of you trying to no-till or improve your planter for no-till.

Ed Winkle

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