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

Jim Leverich no-tills near Sparta, Wis., and serves as an onfarm research coordinator for the University of Wisconsin.

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