In the Shop
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.
If You Traded Planters...
Feb 13, 2013
If you traded planters since last spring, take time this winter to ensure you've got all your ducks in a row for when it comes time to hook your new planter to your tractor.
If you traded at a dealership, check with the mechanic who checked/prepped the planter before you took it home. With luck you made it part of the deal for him to connect the planter to your tractor, so he'll be the one with a headache from trying to figure out which hoses go where. Just be certain to MARK EVERY HOSE AND WIRING HARNESS before you disconnect them once you get the tractor and planter home.
If you bought the planter at a farm sale or "outright," then it's up to you to figure out where all those hoses and electrical wiring harnesses go. Start with deciphering if your tractor has enough hydraulic couplers and hydraulic capacity for that planter.
Every planter is different, depending on its manufacturer, its model number and the different options that have been added. But in general, you need to have on your tractor enough hydraulic outlets to power all the hydraulic systems on the planter. If it's an "air" planter, you'll probably have to have some sort of case-drain coupler or motor-return coupler on the tractor. If the hoses aren't marked to tell what each one operates and where it should plug into the tractor, somebody is going to have to trace each hose from the front of the hitch back to the component it controls, in order to figure out how it should be coupled to the tractor. While you're checking and matching hydraulic components, take time to make sure your (older) tractor's hydraulic pump can produce enough gallons per minute to satisfy the oil-hungry hydraulic motors on large, modern planters.
It's also a good idea to compare the electrical needs of the planter to the amp-output of the tractor's alternator. If the planter has a one or more electrically powered air compressors for row shutoffs and pneumatic downpressure systems, plus the seed monitor system, plus electric clutches that shut off the seeding units when turning on endrows...it could blow fuses or trip circuit breakers some evening this spring when you turn on the tractor's lights while the air conditioning is running full-tilt.
The important thing is to check out all those hydraulic and electrical connections now, and not the day before you want to start planting. If you're hooking up to a 16-row or larger planter for the first time, it will probably take at least half a day and one or more trips to the local dealership to figure everything out.