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In the Shop

RSS By: Dan Anderson, Farm Journal

As a farm machinery mechanic and writer, Dan brings a hands-on approach that only a pro can muster. Along with his In the Shop blog, Dan writes a column by the same name as well as the Shop Series for Farm Journal magazine. Always providing practical information, he is a master at tackling technical topics and making them easy for all of our readers to understand. He and his wife, Becky, live near Bouton, Iowa.

Making Sense of Seed Monitors

Apr 25, 2009
 Got a seed monitor that's beeping and flashing a warning? Here are a few steps to diagnose the problem and return peace and quiet to your tractor cab.

-First step, and always the first step, is to prove whether the seed monitor is telling the truth. Either dig behind that row for seeds, or tip the seed box forward and manually turn the seed meter drive for that row to see if seeds are dropping from the meter. If digging or mechanically spinning the seed meter proves the sensor is sending a false warning, then...

-Swap the seed tube and sensor from the failed row with the tube and sensor from an adjacent row. If the "failed" warning switches to the adjacent row when you return to planting, the sensor that consistently shows "failed" is the culprit and needs to be replaced.

-If you switch seed tubes and sensors, but the problem stays with the original row, check the seed monitor wiring for that row. Disconnect wiring connectors related to that row and check for greenish corrosion on pins inside the connectors.

-If more than one row shows "failed," note if all the failed rows are on one side of the machine,  all in the middle, or share a branch of the main wiring harness. If so, be suspicious that segment of harness got pinched where the planter folds, or flexes near the hitch.

-If multiple rows show "failed" and wiring harnesses all check out okay, realize that a single failed seed tube sensor can cause other sensors on that circuit to show "failed." All sensors share a single ground circuit (black wire) and a single power circuit (red wire). If one sensor fails in a way that shorts its ground circuit or power circuit, then all the sensors on that shared circuit may turn up as failed. Diagnose that not-infrequent problem by unplugging all the seed tube sensors that show "failed", then experiment with plugging them back into the system, one by one. When the system again goes bonkers, the latest sensor plugged in is the culprit.

-If the entire seed monitor/console goes dead, think "Loss of power." Look for a blown in-line fuse in the harness that powers the seed monitor, or a blown fuse in the tractor circuit that provides power to the monitor. Be aware that many tractors have more than one circuit and therefore more than one fuse for accessory outlets and cigarette lighters/power sources in their cabs.

-If you can't find the problem yourself and need a dealership mechanic to visit the machine, note any warning codes and numbers that popped up on the seed monitor display. The codes and numbers might give the mechanic hints on what spare parts to bring, and how to diagnose the problem.
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