Since nobody manufactured the soybean planter of Richard Schmid’s dreams, he built his own. After planting three crops with the 32-row, 15" machine, which includes an air-bag down-pressure system, in no-till and conventional field conditions, the Rankin, Ill., farmer says, "I wouldn’t change a thing."
Schmid started with a 16-row, 30" Case IH 1200 planter on a Friesen toolbar. "The Case IH system was simple and plenty accurate for soybeans," he says.
Schmid bought a used 16-row, 30" Case IH 800 planter and updated the units. He mounted them, along with the original units on the Friesen bar, spaced 15" apart. To provide residue clearance for no-till, he lengthened the parallel linkage of every other unit by 7".
The planting units are spaced so no row is planted in the middle of a tractor-wheel track. "With 18" tires on our tractor, some rows are planted right on the edge of the track, but not in the middle," Schmid says.
He purchased two more Case IH air hoppers and mounted them on the toolbar. The four hoppers provide a total capacity of 70 bu. of seed.
"The hardest part of the project was getting hydraulic pressure to all four hoppers," Schmid says. "Case IH never manufactured a four-hopper planter. Our solution was to mount a 22-gal.-per-minute hydraulic pump to the PTO and use a flow divider to direct pressure to each hopper." Each hopper has an individual needle valve for adjusting air pressure.
Schmid eliminated drive chains by using a three-section Rawson hydraulic drive. It lets him shut off sections (two eight-row, one 16-row) individually.
To make it easy to move between tilled and no-till conditions, Schmid added a John Deere air-bag down-pressure system to each row unit. The planter no-tills into untouched cornstalks with no need for trash whippers.
Schmid had a wiring harness custom-made for his monitor. There’s a Case IH high-rate sensor on each row unit, a sensor in each hopper and a Dickey-john screen.
Schmid pulls the planter with a Case IH 2394 tractor. "It was 160 hp when it came from the factory, but more than 200 hp now. That’s the minimum amount of power you need for this planter."
A team of talented assistants helped Schmid build his planter. They include Schmid’s sons Mahlon, Levi and Jacob; his brother Aaron; and Aaron’s sons Paul, David and Steven.