Solving The Puzzle Of Planter Performance

No-tillers can boost yields and profits if they ‘marry’ the right attachments to their planters and avoid some common mistakes.

Kevin Kimberely has compelling numbers that show not only how far the science of efficient planting has come, but how quickly things can fall apart for no-tillers.

On a planter traveling at 6.5 mph, programmed for a 35,000 seed population per acre, each row unit is traveling 9.5 feet per second and planting about 19 seeds a second. By contrast, a Thompson machine gun shoots only 18 bullets a second.

If a seed is delayed by 1/25th of a second, it will drop 3.8 inches late. That tiny delay could start a chain of problems that robs no-tillers of yields and profits.

Kimberley, an ag consultant based in Maxwell, Iowa, works with many no-tillers to improve the performance of their no-till planters.

During a presentation at the 2010 National No-Tillage Conference (NNTC), he reviewed the necessities and roles of planter attachments in gaining picket-fence stands.

He also discussed the importance of hybrid selection and trouble-shooting basic planting challenges.

“Every year is different, so you have to react differently,” Kimberley says.

Soils Change Everything

 Kimberley says no-tillers must do a better job of understanding different soil types on their farms because it affects how every aspect of their planter performs.

“As the planter goes through the field, the soil changes. And so the downpressure changes, the planting depth changes, and the presswheel downpressure will change,” he says.

No-tillers have glossed over this issue in recent years, he says, because rainy weather produced more forgiving ground that covered up mistakes.

Soil types…

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John dobberstein2

John Dobberstein

John Dobberstein is senior editor of No-Till Farmer magazine and the e-newsletter Dryland No-TillerHe previously covered agriculture for the Tulsa World and worked for daily newspapers in Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Joseph, Mich. He graduated with a B.A. in journalism and political science from Central Michigan University.

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