Moving Up to a Larger No-Till Planter?

Do your research, keep your no-till goals in mind and ask plenty of questions before diving into this all-important purchase.

Recently we purchased a new planter as our acreage and custom work has been increasing. We decided we wanted a larger planter, and one that would allow us to continue with our 20-inch rows.

Below you’ll read some of the thought that went into our purchase and the tools we added, as well as some things to think about when evaluating your own planter needs.

Minimize Wheel Traffic. Back in the late 1990s I researched the yield advantages of moving to 20-inch rows. In our own research plots, we found as much as a 25-bushel advantage to 20-inch rows over 30-inch rows.

Our key to success for narrow rows is making sure we could apply the same management practices we used for 30-inch rows. Keeping wheel traffic off the rows, and trying to balance planter weight, is essential to getting a yield response.

Back in the ’90s and even today, the smallest 20-inch-row planters available were 24-row versions, so we started out with an eight-row that we built ourselves.

As our acreage grew, we built a 16-row planter that suited us well for many years. The planters we built were much lighter and more balanced than many offered by major planter manufacturers.

But the growth we’ve seen convinced us to go with a 24-row planter. Even though the machine may be larger than we currently need, it allows us to plant when conditions are more favorable, rather than hurrying out to the field when conditions may not be optimal.


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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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