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Planter Pushes Pace

December 7, 2013
By: Nate Birt, Top Producer Deputy Managing Editor google + 
HORSCH Maestro 1
Among the unique attributes of the Maestro planter are its large frame, standard fertilizer system, continuous hydraulic down pressure and electronic seed-metering system.  

First reports come from the field on Horsch’s Maestro

Tight planting windows require a machine with enough speed and seed capacity to get the job done right. That’s where early adopters say Horsch’s Maestro planter pushes the throttle forward.

It travels at high speeds; boasts a large-scale frame, center-fill seed hopper and fertilizer tank; provides precise seeding with an electronic metering system; and features a hydraulics system that maintains down pressure across the row units with enough flexibility to keep components from snapping in rough terrain.

"My corn plants are all identical in height—same size stalks," says Justin Heinle, who grows 17,000 acres of corn, sunflowers and spring wheat with his dad and brother near the North Dakota cities of Hebron, Hazen and Bismarck. "It does a wonderful job of placing the seed precisely."

Coming off of its first planting season in the U.S., the German-born Maestro planter has been reconfigured for American crop conditions. Farmers are saying it stands out because it is faster, bigger and more accurate than competitive equipment.

In spite of its frame size, the Maestro planter is maneuverable enough to fit into tight spots

"They’re trying to gain market share, so they put all of this innovation in there from the very beginning," notes Doug Goyings, an Ohio farmer who grows 3,300 acres of corn, soybeans and wheat about 35 miles east of Fort Wayne, Ind. He planted his 1,300 acres of corn with a Maestro this year.

Heinle’s dryland ground produced 130 bu. to 150 bu. per acre this year, up 50 bu. or more per acre. Meanwhile, irrigated ground saw at least a 20-bu. bump. To be clear, plentiful rain was a

critical part of the equation.

In Ohio, Goyings expects a record corn crop with yields ranging from 185 bu. to 217 bu. per acre.

Field tests. Based on their experiences, the farmers say the Maestro orchestrates an impressive mix of planter attributes that work together to get the crop in the ground for optimized emergence. The machine is available in a 24-row 30" spacing configuration, and more widths and row combinations are planned, says Drew Gerber, sales and marketing product manager for Horsch.

First, the planter is fast. Most farmers can comfortably increase their aver­age speed by 20% to 40% using the Maestro, Gerber explains.

Goyings averaged between 6½ mph to 7 mph, up from his typical 5 mph, using a Challenger MT765D. A tractor of at least 350 hp should be used with the Maestro, Gerber says. Hydrau­lic needs are approximately 30 gal. per minute, so most newer tractors should have no issues.

Heinle averaged 7 mph to 7½ mph this season, compared with the 5 mph to 5½ mph he used to travel with previous planters. He uses a Challenger MT845C with 450 engine horsepower and says he would have to slow planting speed with a less-powerful tractor.

Maestro folding1

The Maestro toolbar can be folded up for a transport width of 11'10". Unfolded in field mode, the planter comprises three 8-row sections.

Second, the planter is large. The seed tank holds 140 bu., and the fertilizer tank’s capacity is 1,000 gal., Gerber explains. That allows Heinle to plant 250 acres to 300 acres at a 24,000 plant population without stopping.

For Goyings, it wouldn’t hurt for the center-fill hopper to be smaller. That’s because he uses six varieties of corn seed and doesn’t require as much capacity. At the same time, the unit cleans out nicely so varieties aren’t mixed together in the field.

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FEATURED IN: Farm Journal - December 2013

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