Row Cleaners: Coming Of Age

Engineering improvements and on-the-go adjustment are making it easier for no-tillers to clear residue from the row and improve seedling emergence, crop stands and yields.

With tremendous pressure placed on timely planting, no-tillers are looking to have their planters functioning at a high level to maximize emergence and yields.

The importance of a finely tuned planter extends to the attachments. For many no-tillers, row cleaners are the first line of attack to clear the seed zone of trash and prepare ideal planting conditions.

But row cleaners that are incompatible for field conditions or set improperly can throw the planting process off at the very beginning. They can dig furrows in the soil or leave trash in the row, causing a bumpy ride for row units and interfering with seed depth and singulation.

A large number of manufacturers have come forward with new designs for row cleaners that tackle specific challenges in the field.

Some units have swept-back teeth to more aggressively handle difficult soils and sweep trash out of the way. Some have treader wheels that sweep residue away from the surface or are “floating” models that adjust to undulations in the terrain, an asset to no-tillers farming slopes or highly variable soils.

Another new option is sophisticated systems that let no-tillers adjust the aggressiveness of row cleaners from the tractor cab when residue levels or field conditions require it.

Finding What Works

Bill Lehmkuhl, a longtime no-tiller and owner of Precision Agri-Services in Minster, Ohio, says he’s done a lot of experimentation with setups on his 12-row Kinze planter and believes row cleaners are a must in no-till because they smooth out the path…

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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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