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Slow Down, Tune Up Your No-Till Planter

Frustration made this no-tiller start his own seed-metering business and strive for planting perfection. Here’s how to soup up your planter for picket-fence stands.

Gregg Sauder of Tremont, Ill., has been working on no-till planters for 6 years now. He checks vac units and finger units for worn parts and calibrates both to make sure they are up to par. In fact, no-tillers around the country are lining up to have Sauder tinker with their planter to make sure it’s in top-notch condition.

But Sauder wasn’t always in the planter tune-up business.

“It really started out of frustration with my own planter’s performance,” Sauder says. “I had built a 20-row, 20-inch planter from scratch. I went to 20-inch corn for one reason only: ear count. We had maximized our final ear count in our operation on 30-inch corn with a 32,000 plant population. No matter how high my plant population, I was still stuck with 28,000 ears maximum. That’s not a bad ear count, but I wanted to drive the final ear count into the low 30s with a high target of 35,000.”

Fine-Tuning Your Planter

Sauder set out to solve his problem with unsatisfactory ear count. After building the narrow row planter, he planted flat seed. But frustration soon set in.

“I was never more disappointed with my drop,” he says. “We had slowed the revolutions per minute (RPM) on the planter’s finger mechanism way down which caused it to skip and ended up with only 88 percent of the seed needed for a picket fence stand. So out of every 100 seeds, I was missing 12. I was very discouraged.”

Not giving…

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