A toolbar design that lets Ohio farmer Bruce Bishop mount planting units close to the tractor reduces weight and eliminates the need for carrying wheels.
The creative spark burns bright on America’s farms, as evidenced by Farm Journal’s long-running "I Built the Best" contest. On Bruce Bishop’s farm near McComb, Ohio, the spark doesn’t merely burn—it blazes. For the second straight year, Bishop topped the planters category of the contest, with a 60'15" soybean planter that needs no carrying wheels. Even more remarkable, Bishop’s victory marks his ninth category win.
Other 2011 winners include Brent Bergquist of Lohrville, Iowa, whose compact but fully equipped nurse trailer won the chemical handling category; Brandon Kitchel of Richmond, Ind., whose innovative combine-mounted stalk roller took the harvesting equipment category; Marlin Langeland of Coopersville, Mich., whose versatile truck-mounted seed tender won the seed handling category; and John Cotherman of Gore, Okla., whose barbed wire roller topped the livestock category.
You’ll read about Bishop and Langeland’s winning entries here and the others in future issues. Each "I Built the Best" winner receives $500. See below for how to enter your idea.
Light-Stepping Soybean Planter
In 2010, Bruce Bishop of McComb, Ohio, won in the planters category of the "I Built the Best" contest with his light-stepping corn planter, which has no gauge wheels or carrying wheels. This year, his soybean planter, which is similar but different, took top honors.
Besides looking for accurate seed placement, Bishop wants his planters to be simple in design. He figures the less complicated they are, the fewer things can break down and delay field work. He also wants them to be lightweight.
Wheels are one complication Bishop likes to eliminate. "They not only require maintenance but add weight," he says. "A lighter machine requires less fuel, and it may get you back into the field faster following a rain."
To make his 48-row, 15" soybean planter as light as possible, Bishop used some of the same techniques that worked for his corn planter. He set the two toolbars 3½' apart instead of the typical 1'. "That let me mount the planter units on the front bar," he explains.
Setting the toolbars farther apart reduced stress on the second bar, allowing Bishop to use lighter, ¼"-wall, 4" tubing for the bar. "In terms of weight, spacing the toolbars farther apart required only about half as much steel," he says.
Bishop used heavier ½"-wall, 7" tubing only on the middle 12' of the front toolbar. The wings of the front toolbar are ½"-wall, 4" tubing.
The triangular design of the wing framework also required less steel to build, Bishop adds.
The 60' planter weighs 16,500 lb., or about 20,000 lb. when the tank is loaded with 70 bu. of seed, which isn’t much more than a 20' drill, Bishop says.
Active hydraulic down pressure. "Under many conditions, this planter might not have enough weight to no-till," Bishop says. "But it works for us because we have been following a controlled traffic pattern for a number of years, so our soil has good structure."
To help the units penetrate, Bishop uses active hydraulic down pressure to transfer weight from the main frame and tank of the planter to the wings.
Bishop farms mostly Hoytville clay soil. He subsoils every two years, following soybeans. He no-tills all his soybeans and wheat.
- February 2011