When farmers are having planting difficulties, Alan Byerly says too many growers think the answer is to simply add more attachments. But the service manager for Precision Equipment in Washington, Iowa, says getting back to the basics of planting should be the first step before spending more dollars.

“We’re taking planting much more seriously and taking the time to explain how to make planters work more effectively without buying aftermarket attachments,” says Byerly.

Peer Pressure Concerns

Byerly believes many farmers think the only way to solve planting problems is to add more attachments. But in many instances, he maintains farmers are throwing money away on planter attachments just to get another 1 or 2 bushels of yield. And he believes much of the popularity for buying attachments is due to peer pressure from neighbors.

“A few years ago, a customer wasn’t happy with his planter performance,” Byerly says. “He was ready to throw some money down on the counter to buy attachments. After I found out what was going on, I showed him how to make that planter do exactly what he wanted without spending another penny.

“He was using the wrong seed discs. I told him that if he had smaller seed discs at home, I’d guarantee making just that little change would solve the problem.”

After planting, the farmer told Byerly the monitor indicated he was putting on the right amount of seed, but that he used less seed corn. That fall, the farmer harvested the same or a slightly better yield with much less seed expense, just by using the correct seed plates.

Knowledge Is Key

Byerly says a major problem in the past has been that neither manufacturers or equipment dealers did much to help farmers properly adjust their planters.

“Some attachment companies have made farmers aware of what they’ve been doing wrong,” he says. “Dealers can’t just sell the equipment. We also need to educate our customers on how to make it work properly. We’ve been guilty of this for years.”

Review The Basics

Byerly conducts a late-winter clinic on the ins and outs of effective planter adjustment along with a mid-summer combine clinic. During these hour-long evening presentations for about 100 customers, he uses a PowerPoint presentation to go over all the latest ideas for precision planting and harvesting.

“It’s much easier to have everybody in a room watching a PowerPoint than trying to gather 100 farmers around a planter or combine where not everyone can see what you’re talking about,” he says.

Even if you think you know everything about proper equipment adjustment, the chances are good that you’d head home after one of Byerly’s clinics with some new ideas for more effective — and profitable — planting and harvesting.