18/09/2014 Pre-season checks on planters will help deliver healthy, uniform seedling growth.
With the row-crop planting season imminent, now’s the time to fully prepare your equipment to ensure you are ready to strike during optimum weather and soil conditions.
“If you already own a row-crop planter, you should be giving it a thorough inspection and making any adjustments and repairs,” says Cameron McKenzie, Seeding & Tillage Product Marketing Manager for the farm equipment brand, Challenger. “Worn or incorrectly-aligned components can compromise the machine’s settings with a subsequent negative effect on yields. Do not skip pre-season maintenance. I cannot emphasise this enough. Giving your planter some tender loving care now will give it the very best chance for maximum performance and uniform planting of seed.”
Pre-season maintenance should include cleaning of the seed tubes and monitor sensors. If the seed tubes show signs of wear then these should be replaced. Check the condition of the seed conveyor belt and the seed meters. Adjust or replace worn disc openers and ensure the disc openers and furrow closers are accurately aligned.
Also crucial is to check tyres for the correct pressures. Indeed, this is something that should carried out daily once planting begins since incorrect tyre pressure can influence seed rates. Equal tyre pressure keeps the tool bar level and parallel to the ground. This allows the coulters, disc openers and closing wheels to run perpendicular to the ground rather than being tilted. Ground-driven planters use the tyre for ground driving the seed, fertilizer and chemical metering systems, and therefore, the tyre needs to be properly inflated to match the same tyre diameter used to create the seed rate charts in the operator’s manual. An under-inflated tyre will lead to a higher seeding/fertilization rate as the tyre makes more rotations for each hectare of land covered.
“Maximising uniformity of emergence produces strong, healthy seedlings,” Cameron explains. “Uneven emergence can reduce yields by 10-20%. Plants need to be evenly spaced and planted at uniform depth. Indeed, depth control is one of the big factors affecting germination and consistency in crop emergence.”
“Seeds placed at different depths are exposed to different soil temperatures and moisture levels. Delayed plants cannot compete with older, more established plants. You can be looking at an 8-20% yield loss if 25% or more of the crop is two or more leaf stages behind. In an ideal world, planting should take place in warm, moist conditions. The correct seed depth is determined by current field soil moisture conditions and the five to ten day forecast.”
“Accuracy, precision and uniformity of seed placement are hallmarks of Challenger’s 9100 Series row-crop planters. Made in the United States, they are well-proven all over the world, helping growers to reduce costs and boost yields on farms extending from Eastern Europe to Southern Africa,” continues Cameron
“These 9100 planters are designed to meet the challenges of today’s agriculture and are capable of handling multiple tillage practices from Conventional through to the latest Conservation techniques. With the ability to operate across a range of forward speeds, the 9100 is suitable for planting a wide spectrum of seed sizes and varieties - from maize to sunflower, soyabean, cotton and peanuts.”
Unequalled planting accuracy and gentle seed handling is achieved through the proven Positive Air Metering – PAM™ - system. Unlike vacuum systems, low-pressure positive air enters the seed unit and each seed is held gently in its cell. This means the seed is not damaged by any impact forces and any chemical dressings are kept safely in place before reaching the ground. Also unique is the ‘Edge Drop’™ seed control technology which ensures a consistent movement of the seed from the meter to the seed trench. This leads to regular, even plant spacing for optimum results.
Designed for easy day-to-day operation and minimum maintenance, the Challenger planters are available from 6 to 24 rows at 70 cm or 76 cm row spacing. They come with an extensive range of attachments and accessories including seedbed coulters, residue managers and attachments for chemical application to suit all types of planting conditions.
“Once planting is over, it’s just as important to ensure that machinery is put away in good condition and that the machines are checked over for the next season,” Cameron remarks. “Clean the planter inside and out and remove all seed from the hoppers and metering units. Lubricate all chains and bearings and if possible remove the chains and soak in oil all winter. If you look after your planter, it will look after your precious seed at the crucial planting time.”