Electric Drives May Boost No-Till Planter Performance

This new planting technology could help no-tillers improve populations planted in each row unit and improve residue management in no-till fields.

When the presswheel system for planter row units changed, and as planters have become wider and larger, manufacturers went away from using individual row presswheels to drive seed meters.

This wasn’t a problem when we had narrow planters. But as planters have widened, planter seed-meter drive systems have continued to drive ever-widening planter sections.

This isn’t a concern in straight fields, but on contours this causes populations in each row to stray away from their original setting. On the inside of contours, seed meters are generally overplanting, while outside meters are either underplanting or planting at the correct rate, depending on the drive system.

This over- and underplanting in each row definitely has an impact on profitability because it doesn’t allow us to manage the seeding rate correctly for one of our most expensive inputs — seed.

As we learn how to more accurately match population to our soil’s capabilities, it will become more important and profitable to fine-tune planter designs to ensure each row is seeded at the correct population.

New Technology

In the past, no-tillers had few options to correct this problem except to change the design of row units so they could drive their own seed meters again.

There’s been some discussion and movement toward using more section controls with hydraulic drives, but earlier this year, Kinze Mfg. released an electric-drive system for each individual seed meter.

The new technology provides consistent seed spacing from the inside row of the planter to the outside when planting on…

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Leverich jim

Jim Leverich

No-Till Farmer's Conservation Ag Operator Fellow for 2022, Jim Leverich is a no-till farmer near Sparta, Wis. His 1,000 acre-farm has been in his family since 1864 and no-tilled since 1984. An innovator and educator, Leverich has 35-plus years of no-till and on-farm research experience, and possesses a deep, practical understanding of what makes no-till work. For his contributions while at the University of Wisconsin Cooperative Extension Service, Leverich was named the No-Till Innovator of the Year (Research & Education category) in 2006. A talented presenter and writer, Leverich was a regular guest columnist for No-Till Farmer in 2011 when it earned the Gold Medal as the nation’s top newsletter from the American Society of Business Press Editors.

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