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New planter helps hit shrinking planting windows

The spring planting season of 2013 seemed to drag on and on for a lot of farmers. Some fields weren't planted, and for those that were, it was tough for a lot of Midwest corn farmers to hit the optimal planting window.

A new planter system released Wednesday at the National Farm Machinery Show in Louisville, Kentucky, is expected to eliminate the time crunch a lot of farmers faced last spring. And, leaders with John Deere say the new ExactEmerge planter system will do much more than that.

"I would go back 177 years of company history and say this is one of those major-game changers, a revolution in planters," says John Deere media relations manager Barry Nelson.

The product he references, the ExactEmerge system, is touted as a new way to plant both corn and soybeans more accurately and swiftly, helping farmers take better advantage of an increasingly tight planting window as well as doing so in a way that opens up "maximum yield potential," says John Deere Seeding Group product specialist Kelby Krueger.

The system leverages electric motors that independently control seed meters and brush belts that place seed based on ground speed. Instead of a seed tube, the system uses a trough that makes both natural rearward trajectory of seed and ground speed the critical drivers for seed delivery, says Elena Kaverina, product line manager, John Deere Seeding Group.

"ExactEmerge is an all-electric-drive planter. We have two maintenance-free brushless motors that operate independently, which control the meter and brush belt. They operate at ground speed and deliver accurate target population. If you compare with standard brush motors, these have a longer life," she says of the planter system that will be available for the 2015 planting season. "The heart and soul of ExactEmerge is the exclusive seed delivery system. This helps with seed population control and spacing. How does this system work? It all starts with the meter that hands off seed to the brush. Seed is placed consistently in the middle of the brush every time.

"Correct population for the plants, accurate plant spacing, uniform emergence, and last but not least, being able to plant the crop within narrow planting window as close to optimal planting date as possible: These are the four factors that are key to the crop, and they are targets for ExactEmerge program," she adds.

How does the system work? Greg Smith of Cummings, Kansas, was one of the farmers selected to test the new system. He said he was "very pleased" with the crop variables targeted by the planter, and his crop's uniformity was the ultimate benefactor.

"The first day we go to the field, the guys from John Deere say 'drive it like you stole it. Go 10 mph, as fast as you can go.' I start at 6 mph, I get the thumbs-up from them. I go 7 mph, and I get the thumbs up, then at 8 mph, I got out and checked, and the seed was the exact depth and placement it needed," Smith says. "The spacing and depth is exact. You talk to the agronomists and they always say they want seed to come up within 48 hours of each other. I swear it came up within 48 minutes of each other. It was very uniform. Every ear was exactly the same length."

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