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Meet the Planter of the Future

02/10/2014 @ 10:18am

Many of you will argue that the planter is the most important piece of equipment in your farming operation. A planter is under pressure not only to deliver the seed to the soil as precisely as possible, but also to perform in an increasingly short planting window.

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“If the seed isn’t placed in optimal conditions at the appropriate time, how can you expect the crop to reach its full yield potential?” asks Ryan Molitor, Raven marketing manager.

Teched out

With only eight days to get his corn planted last year, there’s no hesitation in Todd Goldsmith’s mind about which piece of iron is most critical to the success of his Corning, Iowa, operation. It’s also why he continually upgrades and refines this asset – with a current total value of around $300,000 – to ensure every acre is optimized.

“I’ve had 12 different planters in my 25 years of farming. In my opinion, I have to have the best that’s out there when it comes to the planter,” he says.

Goldsmith’s latest piece of iron, the John Deere DB90 (36 rows, 30 inches), is loaded with everything from iSteer, an active implement guidance system, to SeedStar XP, which raises planter monitoring to the next level.

“If your planter is years behind, you can’t take advantage of all that this technology has to offer,” says Nick Custer, a farm solutions specialist with AgriVision.

Goldsmith has seen the payoff firsthand. “I saved about 50 bags of corn just on the row shutoffs,” he notes. “In this part of the country, they’re a must.”

His six-figure investment sets the tone for the entire growing season. “It’s the start of everything,” says Goldsmith. “If things don’t go well when I’m planting, it’s not going to be good the rest of the year.”

A process evolved

When the first patent for a corn planter was awarded in the 1800s, it revolutionized the way farmers put seed in the ground. The days of dropping a seed by hand were replaced by the use of a device with a trigger that, when squeezed, released the seed to the soil. Today, the planter faces mounting pressure to perform even better than its predecessors.

“Planting expectations have changed from just getting the seed in the ground to planting every seed correctly,” says Roger Zielke, Ag Leader Technology.

As expectations changed, planter technology also changed. Companies focused on maximum utilization of seed genetics and gentle seed handling. “What that means is accurate seed metering and accurate placement in the seed trench so you can utilize those genetics to maximize the return on your investment,” says AGCO’s Gary Hamilton.

The industry responded with components that accomplished that and more.

“Row shutoffs for overlap protection, downforce for maintaining consistent seed depth, and singulation and seed-space monitoring characterize today’s planter,” says Zielke. “Better stands and higher yields result.”

As society continues to focus on producing more food for a growing population, it will turn to agriculture to meet the demand. How will that impact this critical piece of iron going forward?

“On every talk we give to farmers, we always come back to the fundamentals of singulation and spacing and downforce control as the key things to get good emergence and a good stand,” notes Doug Sauder, Precision Planting.

Learn more about the planter of the future:

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