Farm Industry News

Tips for checking planter performance

As growers begin to evaluate plant emergence, they can also take that opportunity to see how their planter performed. AGCO’s White Planters specialists offer advice on comparing emergence to how your planter held up this spring.

Skips and doubles

Skips and doubles can hurt yields, and a skip indicates an empty space in a row where seed either was not planted or did not grow. Although there can be many causes for a seed skip, the most likely cause is a problem with the planter, meaning a seed failed to drop where the farmer calibrated a drop. Often, skips and doubles are caused by a planter that interrupts and inefficiently moves seed from hopper to placement. This can be caused by improper pickup of the seed from the hopper, interruptions in the vacuum system responsible for holding the seed, or ricocheting inside the seed tube before the seed reaches the ground.

Inconsistent Emergence

Photo: AGCO

Plant emergence over a wide range of days hurts the entire farming cycle. When some plants grow at a faster rate than others, the tallest plants shade the shortest plants, hurting plant development. Even if the plants that emerged at a later date than others do grow to fruition, they are more likely to have varying moisture content, thus shifting the harvesting schedule and costing the farmer time and money.

Timing of emergence is dependent on accuracy of the planter depth indicator through the entire depth range, proper formation of a seed trench and proper closing of the trench. Any inaccuracy or inconsistency will cause variation in the timing of plant emergence.

Uneven Spacing

Unevenly spaced plants cause imbalanced distribution of sun and water. Just as doubles cause plants to fight for the same sunlight, water and nutrients, unevenly spaced seed also causes irregular distribution of shared resources. If seed moving through a planter has heavy contact with the equipment, interruptions in movement can cause inefficiencies in spacing. Most planters use air systems to convey and secure the seed before dropping it in the ground. When these air sources are interrupted, spacing and seed singulation can suffer.

Rough Openings, Inconsistent Seed Trench Depth

Even before emergence, rough openings and inconsistent seed trench depth can put planter ineffectiveness on display. Inconsistent seed trenches affect plant spacing and depth and will ultimately result in inaccurate planting.

“You need to have a good seed trench for planting to go well,” said Randy Peterson, AGCO product specialist for White Planters. “It’s the foundation for the seed to drop into, and it needs to be perfect. It should look like a wall, so the seed has room to be positioned correctly before the soil moves in around it.”

Offset opener discs create uneven wear, causing additional maintenance intervals and a seed trench that may require positioning the gauge wheels trailing the point of seed delivery allowing for inconsistent depth of seed placement.

“The most important evaluation to make about emergence is unified timing,” said Mark Hanna, extension agricultural engineer with Iowa State University. “Equal emergence and plant spacing provides plants that grow at the same rate, gather sunlight, nutrients and moisture equally and pollinate at the same time for higher yields. This is an ideal time of year to get out and read your field and your planter’s report cards.”

Read the full release from AGCO online.

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