12-point plan to pinpoint planting
Tires are the most often ignored planter components – until they go flat. Even if they don't go flat, underinflated tires affect how well row units are able to maintain precise depth placement and can jeopardize level planter operation. Inspect all tires and their rims prior to planting. “In case they caught a rock last season and got dinged,” Kimberley says. Check inflation pressures at least once a week during the season. Write inflation pressures on tire rims for quick reference.
By nature of having been added to the planter, attachments are often overlooked in preseason maintenance. “When they go on a planter, they become integral to the implement's ability to perform,” Kimberley says. Blades should be sharpened (if designed as such) both prior to planting and, if necessary, during the season. Inspect attachment frames and mountings to determine if they were damaged during the previous year. “Confirm that attachments are in alignment with the row unit. You'd be surprised how often this is overlooked when they are originally mounted on the toolbar,” he says.
3. Planter balance
Leveling a planter side to side and front to back is crucial to row-unit performance. “Be sure that the toolbar tilts slightly backward when it has been lowered into its operating position,” Kimberley says. “Make this correction before you make any depth adjustments on attachments and row units.”
4. Hydraulic and electrical systems
Like tires, hydraulic hoses and electrical lines and connectors are often ignored during a preseason inspection. “Hydraulic hoses do wear, especially where they bend (from folding the planter, for example),” Kimberley explains. “Such a bend can weaken the hose, causing it to maybe collapse and affect meter pressure (if it supplies the orbit motor propelling the air pump) or transmission speed (if the planter is not ground driven).” Examine all hoses as well as electrical lines (for bare wiring) and their connections (cleaning them with a solution made for electrical components).
The planter doctor is in
Kevin Kimberley bought his first seed meter calibration stand in 1980. Since then, he has rebuilt and calibrated thousands of meters. That experience plus extensive field research and work with farmers helped him develop a sixth sense for what ails planters.
Today, Kimberley serves as a private consultant specializing in planter and tillage performance and is based out of his farm near Maxwell, Iowa. He offers seminars on those topics during the winter or summer. To contact him, call 515/967-2583 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kimberley leads a planter short course on RFD-TV exposing planter problems he's discovered over the past 30 years during two upcoming 30-minute television specials on the Machinery Show. The first program, which covers seed meter malfunctions, airs February 9 at 8:00 p.m., February 10 at 10:00 a.m., and February 12 at 9:00 p.m. The second program, which covers the 12-point plan featured here, airs February 17 at 8:00 p.m., February 18 at 10:00 a.m., and February 20 at 9:00 p.m. All times are Central.