There's a magic word being talked about a lot these days - yield. It's the core of your business and doing all you can to boost yield maximizes per-acre returns. That's also the driving force behind a lot of agricultural machinery innovation. A key development being rolled out this spring for season 2015 from John Deere is new planter technology.
And there are two significant developments the company shared with Farm Industry News that were rolled out at the National Farm Machinery Show last month. The two significant developments are a new MaxEmerge 5 row unit and a totally new planting system called ExactEmerge which promise precision speed placement at much higher speeds.
Global planter unit
The MaxEmerge 5 is the culmination of a lot of engineering work. "We are replacing two row units [in the line] with the MaxEmerge 5," says Elena Kaverina, product manager, John Deere. "We are taking the best advantages of specific row unit families and creating a totally new fifth generation of row units."
Kaverina explains the MaxEmerge 5 essentially takes the best features of the MaxEmerge XP and the Pro-Series systems, along with the produced outside North America, and brings them together into a single "world" unit. "There is the impression that this may not be a big deal," Kaverina says. "But this is going to be a common design around the globe and we will be touching every planter in our line."
The new planter unit will offer a range of improvements including better side-hill performance, improved vacuum air source, a single elbow entry to the mini hopper to prevent clogging and other enhancements, she says.
This global planter unit will provide easier ordering for customers, using the same parts across all vacuum meter planters and it will offer the same adjustments for all row-units and vacuum meters. The new unit is designed for easier cleanout and external doubles eliminator adjustment.
Kaverina explains that the new row unit has a significantly easier cleanout procedure, which is a time-saver with a 24-row planter. And for 2015 all row units will be replaced with this new modular-design MaxEmerge 5 unit.
That modular design allows John Deere to offer the MaxEmerge 5 in a range of configurations including a mini-hopper design, a 1.6-bu. hopper, a 3-bu. hopper, a mini-hopper with insecticide, a 1.6 bu. hopper with insecticide and a 2 bushel hopper. The 1.6-bu. and 3-bu. hoppers also come equipped with a hopper shutoff that allows you to open the meter cover without the need to clean out the hopper - a real time-saver.
All work through that base planter unit module, giving buyers many options but maintaining more consistent adjustment for users.
The simplified approach to the standard planter unit John Deere will offer becomes the foundation for a revolutionary planting technology that will meet a growing need for high-speed performance in the field.
There's a rising interest in getting more speed from a planter to boost productivity, rather than just making the planter bigger. Going faster without precision metering could impact yield enough to counter any productivity gains; hence the push toward electric metering, and other delivery innovations.
John Deere is tackling the need for faster planter operation with the new ExactEmerge row-unit which has been purpose built to meet the farmers need for speed as farmers work to get all their seed in during the optimum planter window. The challenge is to get accurate singulation, spacing and depth control with a row unit that's moving as much as twice the traditional preferred speed.
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"We're looking at uniform emergence," says Kelby Krueger, who works in planter development at John Deere. "It is a two-step process to achieve depth control and uniform emergence with this new planter. First is that active down force will be a required option on the machine."
He notes, however, that when there's poor emergence active down force is often blamed and that's not the case. Instead, there's a problem with the traditional seed delivery system where a tube is how seed moves from meter to ground. "When seed is coming out of the seed tube, the trench might be the right depth, but the seed is rolling and bouncing, and the trench could be closed when the seed isn't at the bottom."
The challenge was to release the seed as close to the trench as possible to avoid the bounce and better place seed in a more consistent manner. And John Deere's solution uses a brush system that reduces the drop distance from meter to ground to as little as 2 inches, which is the second step to providing uniform emergence.
John Deere is going on record that it will deliver the accuracy of a planter at 5 mph but work at up to 10 mph where conditions permit. At the same time, they're getting 99% singulation and control each seed throughout the delivery, which also provides much-needed uniform spacing at emergence.
It starts with that metering system which is exclusive to this machine and will use an electric drive for optimum performance. A 56-volt electrical system is the enabler on the planter. The system includes a new seed bowl with paddles that Krueger explains offers better singulation and "handoff" to the delivery system. And it is designed to plant all seed shapes and sizes without adjustment - in fact they have run trials with hoppers full of a range of mixed seed sizes to test the system. And there's an individual control unit on every row.
Perhaps the most visible difference is the brush belt delivery system controls the seed that eliminates the "gravity drop" from meter to ground through a seed tube. "The true advantage here is that we're getting accuracy of spacing all the way to the ground," Krueger says.
The brush belt concept has the brush opening at the top where seed is crisply handed off from the meter, then as the brush "closes" on its trip through the Trench Delivery System the seed is held in place. At the bottom the brush "opens" at just the right moment to drop the seed consistently. Krueger says that the system is easy to maintain too. "You can open the cover, remove the brush in about 20 seconds, inspect it and put it back together," he says.
There are wear parts in this system, which Krueger estimates would have a 3 to 5-year replacement life. That might be shorter if you plant a lot of soybeans in sandy conditions.
Proving the solution
The company has done a lot of field work with this machine and measured spacing in the field after emergence. "Research shows that the seeding rate should be within 5% of the optimum target yield and we're maintaining population within 1%," Krueger says. And they're doing that at 10 mph.
Models with ExactEmerge will be available in 15-in, 20-in. and 30-in. spacing. The system works with the Central Commodity System hopper only and it's designed for use in corn and soybeans for market year 2015. The two planter models will be the 1775NT and the 1795.
There is a need for higher horsepower at higher speed. Kaverina notes that to push from 5 mph to 7.5 mph you'll need about 40% more horsepower and to run at 10 mph the difference is 80% more hp. So if you've been running a 200 hp tractor at 5 mph to plant, to get to 10 mph you're looking at a 360 hp tractor to do the same job.
The company will have a limited number of machines working in the field for the 2014 planting season and look for field events after planting too.
New planters - including the new MaxEmerge 5 unit or the new ExactEmerge are now part of John Deere's early order program, pricing was not available at press time. If you want to know more about the planter, visit johndeere.com.