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Whip Tough Fields into Shape with Automatic Down Force

Farmers, engineers and manufacturers weigh in on the benefits of auto down force and the soils and tillage systems offering the best payback.


Pictured Above: AUTO ADJUSTED. Because of his farm size, tillage practices and highly variable soil types, Bradgate, Iowa, farmer William Cran is an ideal user of automatic down force technology. He recently upgraded from the manually adjusted pneumatic down-force system on his 16-row Case 1250 planter to Ag Leader’s automatic hydraulic down-force system

In a few important ways, William Cran, who farms 1,500 acres of corn and soybeans with his father Robert, represents the ideal demographic for automatic planter down force.

The technology is a good fit for Cran’s operation just outside Bradgate, Iowa, because his acreage is large enough to exploit the economy of scale. He has both no-tilled and conventionally tilled fields, and much of his ground is comprised of highly variable river bottom soils.

“We can go from hard-pack clays to sandbars within 100 feet of one another, all across the field,” says Cran.

In early 2016, Cran upgraded from the manually adjusted pneumatic down-force system on his 16-row Case 1250 planter to Ag Leader’s automatic hydraulic down-force system. Although he’s only used the new setup for one planting season, the benefits have already been obvious.

Partly due to the inconvenience of adjusting his old system in the field, Cran admits that he would usually only alter his down pressure two to three times per season. He’d usually leave it set around 100-120 pounds of pressure.

But while planting earlier this year with the new system, he noticed the sensors on his down-force system would often call…

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Iangronau

Ian Gronau

Ian Gronau is a Contributing Editor for Lessiter Publications, with primary support responsibilities for Precision Farming Dealer, Strip-Till Strategies and the Strip-Till Farmer Website. He is a graduate of Chicago’s Columbia College and has been preparing content for magazines, websites and newspapers since 2009, and has been recognized with several awards.

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