Optimize your yield and maximize profitability with regular planter maintenance
Irregular planter performance results in inaccurate seed depth, seeds at the soil surface, open seed slots, compacted soil on top of the seeds, hair pinning, sidewall compaction, etc. To avoid planting problems, you need to regularly check that your equipment is working correctly and make adjustments accordingly.
Inaccurate metering units result in skips, doubles and triples. To guarantee optimal performance:
- Take metering units apart every winter.
- Remove dirt and clean the hood.
- Replace anything that is cracked or missing.
- Check backplate and seed brushes and replace them as needed.
The belt should be flexible and clean. You can lubricate with graphite as needed. Calibrate your metering unit every 100-150 acres or every 3-4 years.
Look across your planter units and make sure all are at the same height. Loose or wobbly units can compromise accurate depth placement. It would be best if you also replace cracked or broken seed hoppers. It’s essential to get your toolbar leveled out before heading to the field and then double-check once in the field.
Depth wheels should run tight against disks when properly installed. Change washers of the depth wheel if necessary or replace them as needed.
Check for closing wheels for wear or damage. Make sure the bearings are snug and have little give. The bottoms need to be 1.5 - 2 inches apart.
Pull a rope straight from the closing wheels to the front coulter. The coulters, firming wheels and seed openers should all line up.
Parallel Arm Bushings
We’re focusing on the upper and lower parallel arms and all the parts attaching them to the row unit. To check for wear, move the row-unit vertically from the back, then move the row-unit horizontally, making sure not to create too much movement. If they require replacement, do this before you go to the field.
Check your tubes regularly. Worn tubes often curl inwards, not allowing seeds to fall through. Tube guards need to be inspected for proper installation to avoid any unnecessary damage to the tube.
Diameter: Once disk openers wear 1/2” from their original diameter, they should be replaced. Continuing to utilize worn disk openers will wear out the seed tube guard.
Contact: For most row units, the disk openers should have 1-2 inches of contact to clear out the soil they encounter, leaving a V-shaped furrow. Too little contact will cause depth inconsistencies and late emergence of some plants. You can utilize two business cards to set correct contact points. Bring a business card in from the bottom side until it catches. Then bring one in from the top side until it contacts. You know you need to remove shims from the inside and bring the disk in tighter if you can pull that business card through. If you have too much contact, you can add shims.
Once you get your pinch point, you can use a Sharpie marker to make your mark and rotate it around to ensure that you have the proper contact at three different points on the disk blade.
Many items on your planter will need lubrication. This includes gauge wheel arms and the different pivots for folding the planter. You should check your operator manual to see all of the lubrication points that need to be addressed on your particular planter.
Upon inspection, look for holes or cracks. Blow tubes out with compressed air.
Check to make sure your fertilizer opener disks have the minimum diameter needed according to your manual. Check the bearings and tighten or loosen as required.
Chains and Sprockets
Check chains and sprockets for proper lubrication, tension and wear. Lubricate or replace as necessary.
Inflate tires to correct pressure.