Source: Ohio State University Extension
It's that time of year to check the planter before heading into the field. Here is a list of suggestions for planter setup and maintenance.
1. Check meters on a test stand in order to visually inspect parts and evaluate performance.
2. Inspect all mechanical drive components and look for any excessive wear, including down pressure springs, parallel linkages and bushings.
3. Check seed tubes for any wear, in particular, the bottom section that can wear or become damaged. Replace if damaged or has excessive wear.
4. Check size, wear and spacing for opening discs; always replace disc openers in pairs.
5. Inspect gauge wheels and ensure opening discs are making proper contacting with the discs. Adjust the shims for each gauge wheel arm to ensure the correct contact with the disc.
6. Inspect closing wheels or discs, and ensure bearings are in good shape and that the down force spring is properly set. Replace wheels if worn excessively.
7. For vacuum planters, check all lines for damaged tubes. Check hydraulic motor for leaks and make sure fan is clean.
Once at the field here are four important items to check:
1. Planting depth — Check periodically since seeding depth can be influenced by soil and field conditions. The planter row unit must have sufficient weight so the gauge wheels operate firmly on the soil surface.
2. Row cleaner setting — Make sure the row cleaners are not tilling the soil. They are for biomass removal and only need to function or rotate when excessive biomass is encountered.
3. Closing wheel pressure — Need sufficient pressure to close the furrow but adjust to the soil conditions. In general, higher pressure is needed in dry soil and light pressure in wet soil to avoid over-compaction.
4. Gauge wheel pressure — There should be sufficient contact pressure in order to firm the soil surface at the specific depth setting but not so much contact pressure that the depth wheels excessively compact soil adjacent to the seed zone.