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Going with one planter

Jeff Caldwell 07/11/2011 @ 2:46pm Multimedia Editor for Agriculture.com and Successful Farming magazine.

A tough turn of circumstances has a farmer weighing some planter options.

"We recently had a member of our family come down with cancer. He normally takes care of 1/4 of the workload. He is not available to help," says Agriculture.com Machinery Talk member cmholmanfarms.

So, because of his farm's shrinking labor pool, cmholmanfarms wants to trim his machinery lineup and is looking to his planters as one area where he could make do with both less iron and manpower.

"We are thinking about selling a 36-foot air seeder and a 16-row corn planter and going with a [Deere] 1780 or 1790," he says. "We could hopefully stock half the parts we are now and relocate a tractor to tillage. All this thinking came along when I was sitting in the second tractor planting beans and thinking "Why do I have 2 planters if I can only run one at one time?'"

There's one big drawback, other farmers say. A planter the size he's talking about would bring major weight to the field, making compaction an issue where he'd previously been using a much lighter air seeder.

"The guy who runs the sprayer at the local elevator said he doesn't like spraying behind these planters, as they leave the ends so rough," adds Machinery Talk member nwobcw. "The ends of the fields planted with these planters have water in the wheel ruts after even a moderate rain, and the corn doesn't look so good either."

One way he might be able to minimize potential compaction issues arising from a bigger, heavier planter is switching to 20-inch rows. Such a machine, especially with a central-fill hopper, would "approximate most of the advantages of the air seeder," says Machinery Talk member Pupdaddy.

"You could cut some of the weight and still get some of the advantage of narrower rows on soybeans," he adds. "I like those air seeders, but if it's sitting and not running, it's not benefiting you very much."

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