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Pay attention to planter details

Growers attend the Atkins Seed Service winter planter meeting last week / CIFN photo.

CHENOA – Think of your planter as a high-performance race car rather than the old Chevy S10 you drive from the house to the farm each day.

Eric Huber with Precision Planting urges growers to pay close attention to their planters ahead of another growing season.

“We pay a little more attention to the details when we understand that machine we are running is making us money at the end of the day,” Huber told The Central Illinois Farm Network.

Huber recommends getting contact points correct on disk openers, evaluating chains to see if they are stretched and checking parallel arms and gauge wheels. Having your dealer go through a pre-plant checklist can prevent you from losing bushels this year.

One of the places Precision Planting has observed potential pitfalls is in the area of getting rows calibrated to the same depth across an entire planter.

“Where a lot of this has really come out is through a research project for a future product called SmartDepth,” Huber said.

This gives growers the ability to adjust depth on the fly based on moisture readings. One of the simpler aspects of the product is the ability to go in and calibrate depths on various rows.

“We can slide two by fours underneath each gauge wheel, set the planter down on those two by fours and press a calibration button,” explained Huber. “That allows the system to actually feel when the gauge wheels contact those.”

The process ensures each row is zeroed out from a depth perspective. Precision Planting had 10 different machines which tested the product concept and when calibration was performed on each machine, every one had a depth variance from one row to the next.

“The average was about three-eighths of an inch variation.”

The company recommends doing a simple block check on planters before heading out to the field this season.

More information can be found at

Huber spoke at a recent meeting hosted by Atkins Seed Service near Chenoa, a local Precision Planting dealer along Route 24.

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