Question: I wasn’t able to attend any of your planter clinics this winter, but I’d like any recommendations you might be able to give me on getting ready for planting season.
Answer: We have repeatedly seen farmers’ efforts in prepping their planter pay-off in crop performance. In fact, a split-planter study by Pioneer Hi-Bred (Doerge and Hall, 2000) shows an average yield improvement of 4.2 bushels per acre when a planter is properly prepped for the field. The key is checking each facet of the planter and making adjustments before and during the planting season from the hitchpin to the closing wheels. That means you need to inspect everything involved with the seed transmission: chains, sprockets, bearings, idlers and clutch assembly, including all of the components involved in seed metering, as well as the meter itself. Other factors farmers need to evaluate prior to and during planting include: parallel arms, row cleaners, no-till coulters, gauge wheels, disk openers, seed tubes, closing wheels and seed placement. An investment you might consider making is purchasing a mechanized spinner that allows you to check planting row units with little effort. A small motor like those used to calibrate dry insecticides can be hooked up to the main driveshaft and used to spin the planter. First, you’ll want to spin the planter with the boxes on to help you determine if there are issues with the seed shaft alignment to the meter. Then, with the planter boxes off, run the planter and look for any frozen links or problems with idlers or rollers. You can check bearings by taking a long screwdriver, placing the tip on the bearing housing and holding the other end to your ear. Bearings that are beginning to fail will have a gravelly sound.
Check out this link to learn more about the types of small motors you can purchase and use to spin a planter unit and check for potential problems.