When your farm is your livelihood, every penny counts, and every seed or inch of land wasted means money lost. For generations, farmers have painstakingly examined their land and their work to ensure minimal waste of time and energy, and every technological advancement in the field has, in some form or another, come from an inventive farmer looking to streamline the process.
Dean Wolf, Precision Planting Sales and Service at Deerfield Ag Services, knows this just as well as anyone. He grew up helping his father on the family farm, has worked with Deerfield for nearly 24 years, and witnessed firsthand just how far farming technology has come, and all the benefits it can offer the modern farmer.
“We at Deerfield saw the benefit of Precision Planting before we were a dealer. We saw it on our operation. And that’s what encouraged us to become a dealer. As an ag business, our responsibility is to make our customers more productive,” Dean says.
So what exactly is Precision Planting, and what can it do for farmers?
Founded in 1993 in Tremont, Illinois, by Gregg and Cindy Sauder, Precision Planting offers an array of products designed to work as a cohesive unit to maximize efficiency and yield. A full suite of state-of-the-art devices can be outfitted for your planter for the purpose of optimizing the planting process by achieving maximum singulation through precise seed spacing, depth control and other factors.
“We planted 1,200 acres here on the farm last year, with our planter outfitted with Precision Planting technology. Our singulation was 99.6 percent over that 1,200 acres,” he notes.
Dean knows how beneficial this technology can be for the growers he works with, and has seen time and again that it’s an investment that typically pays for itself in a short period of time, often less than a year. However, the proper maintenance of the planter that these products are equipped to, as well as the equipment itself, is of utmost importance, and an issue that he stresses the importance of at every opportunity.
“The most important thing a farmer can do for their yields is planter maintenance,” he emphasizes.
Planters that have not been properly cared for can cause a myriad of problems with proper seed spacing, depth and distribution. Compromising yield with a poorly serviced planter, especially when the technology it has been equipped with has been so meticulously engineered to achieve pinpoint accuracy, can be frustrating. It is for this reason that Deerfield Ag Services holds an annual educational event to emphasize the importance of proper planter maintenance and give their customers tips on what to look for. The event was expanded for 2018, and this past January, Deerfield teamed up with Precision Planting to give their customers even more in-depth information.
For those who wish to get the most value out of their planter and the Precision technology attached to it, it is strongly recommended that the following items are considered:
Bar Level and Bar Height
An issue noted by both Precision Planting and Dean as one of the most prevalent issues with planter maintenance every year. 20”-22” from ground level to the bottom of the bar is optimal.
Check for wear and replace is there is more than 1/2” of wear. “They’re scrap metal at that point.”
Seed Tube Protector
Too much shimming can cause excess wear, and when it hits 3/4” wide, the seed tube protector should be replaced.
Gauge Wheel Adjustment
Gauge wheels should be in contact with the seed disc when held up in the planting position. rotate the gauge wheel and you should have contact through a complete rotation. This eliminates the gauge wheel carrying loose soil around the inside of the gauge wheel and depositing it in the seed trench.
Checking the depth settings row by row is a critical step, as even depth settings that are off by less than ¼” can have a substantial impact on yield.
Look for wear on chains, bearings, sprockets, drive shafts and couplers.
Any sign of chain damage such as rusted or frozen links, or stretched chains due to excessive wear should be replaced. Remove with a bolt cutter so there is no temptation to save as a spare.
The beauty of modern farming comes from the combination of knowledge and techniques passed down for centuries with new technology that allows farmers to best utilize that expertise. Dean hopes that the knowledge he shares with his customers can be used to make their planting more productive and their yields more bountiful for years to come.