Today’s planters and the hydraulically powered systems paired with them demand careful consideration to ensure enough hydraulic capacity.
Compatibility isn’t a problem just for husbands and wives.
In a machinery relationship, there’s a reason many modern planters are pulled by late-model tractors. It’s because it takes a tractor with enhanced hydraulics to satisfy the
demands of planters with multiple hydraulically powered systems.
“Vacuum metering systems can require up to 13 gal. per minute of hydraulic flow, bulk fill systems add another 10 gal., each hydraulic drive will require 3 gal. to 4 gal., and to lift and lower a planter with markers could require 13 gal. to 20 gal., depending on planter size,” explains Alan Forbes, planter marketing manager for Case IH. When all the hydraulic demands are tallied, modern planters can require more than 35 gal. of oil per minute from tractors at more than 2,200 psi of pressure.
Adequate hydraulic flow and pressure are only the first steps toward tractor/planter hydraulic compatibility. Tractors must have enough selective control valves (SCVs) to accommodate three or more sets of hydraulic hoses. Newer planters require tractors to have special case drain and motor-return hydraulic couplers.
Fortunately, all of the major planter manufacturers have developed hydraulic compatibility charts for their product lines. Those charts define how many gallons per minute of hydraulic flow tractors must provide and how many SCVs are needed, depending on how many hydraulic systems an individual planter uses.
“A tractor may have the horse-power to pull the planter, but not the capacity to operate it. For every gallon of hydraulic oil that machine is taking in, it requires about 1 hp,” Forbes says.
Tractor and planter compatibility charts are a good starting point, but don’t expect instant hydraulic bliss.
Hydraulic checkup. A tractor may have enough SCVs but not enough hydraulic capacity to make all the planter’s hydraulic systems work correctly, says Laura Blomme, marketing specialist for Kinze Manufacturing.
“[Local dealerships have] ran tests and found that tractors’ hydraulic systems weren’t working to full capacity, or were worn and couldn’t produce full flow and pressure. Growers need to have their dealer check to see what their tractor can actually do hydraulically, and not just what its specs were from the factory,” Blomme says.
Older tractors may simply not have enough SCVs. Some farmers add power beyond–type hydraulic systems to sidestep the cost of adding SCVs.
Power beyond systems are essentially hydraulic couplers plumbed directly into the hydraulic system. The couplers and anything connected to them receive full hydraulic flow and pressure when the tractor is running.
“I’m not a great fan of power beyond because it puts full flow and pressure to a planter’s hydraulic motors, and that can cause problems for vacuum fan motors and variable-rate-drive motors that don’t need full flow,” says Jared Matthews, service manager at Sloan Implement’s
- Machinery Guide 2011