With many no-tillers ready to invest in new seeding equipment, farm machinery dealers are anticipating a robust sales year.

A recent survey of 508 dealers by Farm Equipment magazine indicates that 94.5 percent expect planter sales to be as good or better in 2008 than this year. For air seeders and drills, 91.8 percent of dealers anticipate as good or better 2008 sales.

When it comes to working with dealers on replacing seeding equipment, David Sutherland has some solid advice. He and his father have no-tilled for more than a dozen years at Leroy, Kan. They no-till more than 4,000 acres and custom no-till another 4,000 acres.

Need More Capacity

With expanding no-till acres, the Sutherlands decided a few years ago that they needed a larger-capacity planter than their 12-row rig.

“The first questions to ask yourself are whether you need to trade, how many acres you need to cover and where you could trade,” says Sutherland. “You need to know how many acres have been seeded with your current planter, the amount of yearly upkeep, repairs that will be needed this winter, possible trade-in value, whether you want to expand your no-till acres or plant in a more timely manner.”

The Sutherlands had seeded 21,000 acres with a White 12-row planter equipped with splitter units to no-till corn in 30-inch rows and soybeans in 15-inch rows. He estimated he’d need to spend $4,000 to get the planter ready for another no-tilling season. The dealer said the planter was worth $35,000 as a trade in, just half the price of the new planter 5 years earlier.

Which Dealer?

In evaluating dealers, Sutherland looks at their location, whether they offer good service support, their willingness to negotiate and the anticipated trade-in allowance.

“You also have to decide if a dealer has the brand that you want,” says Sutherland. “My dealer is 23 miles away, offers good equipment support and will make timely field calls as needed after hours or on weekends. They’re willing to deal with us, and an added advantage is having your trade-in be the same brand as you want in a new planter.

“Once you know the brand, then the size and model becomes important, and this means looking at what your workload is going to be. What row width is needed? Will you have enough increased acres to justify a central fill system? What payment level can you afford?”

They purchased a White central fill planter with the capability to handle 16, 30-inch or 31, 15-inch rows. Since much of the ground had been no-tilled for 10 years, coulters weren’t needed. Row openers and seed firmers were added along with a seed tender and belt conveyor.

“With 1,200 acres of soybeans, we save $6,200 on seed costs with a 15-inch row planter compared to drilling,” he says. “We definitely needed the central fill capacity that has speeded up planting and now lets us no-till 250 to 300 acres per day.”

More Horsepower

Since the Sutherlands didn’t have a large enough horsepower tractor to handle the new planter, they bought a Cat Challenger. However, the income from custom planting covers most of the annual payments for both the planter and tractor.