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All Around the Farm Idea of the Month: March 2010

Agriculture.com Staff 03/15/2010 @ 2:23pm

When the seed company Matt Gruhn grows for determined that its seed needed to be raised in 20-inch rows, he converted the 16-row, 30-inch planter he already had to make it work.

Gruhn already knew this planter well, since he was the original builder in 2005. He designed it then especially for planting seed corn at Gerlach Farms near Nevada, Iowa.

"Since Dekalb only allows for 45-foot turn rows, a mounted planter is advantageous because it's easier to turn," he explains.

Gruhn says that undertaking the changeover to narrower spacing presented several challenges.

First, he had to move the hinge point on the wings and make the hinge narrower. Then he needed to add lift-assist wheels to accommodate the additional weight of six extra row units.

"I needed the lift assist to fold up for transport, but I didn't want to add another cylinder," he says. "So I designed the linkage in order for the cylinder to work in planting mode. When I'm ready for transport, I just fold up the cylinder stops, and the lift-assist wheels fold up straight in the air and out of the way."

He points out that the transport width has remained the same, however. "The frame is still only 12 feet wide during transport, but the wheels are 2 feet wider overall," he says.

"Another difficulty I had was making sure the planting units didn't hit one another when they folded in," he says.

So he made them telescope sideways first. Two cylinders are stacked on top of each other, and there's a steel sleeve with a hardened poly liner inside of it. The cylinders on each half of the planter both telescope sideways, and then the wings fold behind. Gruhn designed the wings with 15 degrees of up-and-down flex to allow for uneven terrain.

Gruhn used all the planter units, markers, and hydraulic drives from the original construction, but the framework was built with new iron. The planter's hydraulic drives are made by Rawson.

Gruhn says he spent about three months designing and building the original planter, and he spent about another month on the conversion.

  • Farms: Grows corn and soybeans for Gerlach Farms near Nevada, Iowa. Has his own land as well, where he also raises hay.
  • Family: Matt's wife, Melissa, manages the chemistry store at Iowa State University. They have two daughters, Allison, 2, and Hailey, who was born in January 2010. They are settling into a brand-new house.
  • Last project: Matt modified a Wishek disk from 13-inch to 15-inch spacing for better mud clearance.
  • Next project: Will build a transport trailer for a 40-foot-wide corn head.
  • When he's not farming: Enjoys fishing, hunting, and "Daddy time," he says.
  • Random quote: "No one who's had autosteer ever wants to go back."
  • When the seed company Matt Gruhn grows for determined that its seed needed to be raised in 20-inch rows, he converted the 16-row, 30-inch planter he already had to make it work.

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