Extra steps preseason will save you headaches later
If you traded planters in the past year, take time this winter to ensure you have all your ducks in a row before it comes time to hook your new planter to your tractor.
If you traded at a dealership, check with the mechanic who 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. Just be certain to mark every hose and wiring harness before you disconnect them once you get home.
If you bought the planter at a farm sale or outright, then it’s up to you to figure out where all the hoses and electrical wiring harnesses go. Start by seeing if your tractor has enough couplers and hydraulic capacity for the planter.
If it’s an "air" planter, you’ll probably need some sort of case-drain coupler or motor-return coupler on the tractor. If hoses on the planter aren’t marked to tell what each one operates and where to plug it, you’ll have to trace each hose from the front of the hitch back to the component it controls to figure out how it should be coupled to the tractor. While you’re matching hydraulic components, make sure your tractor’s hydraulic pump can produce enough gallons per minute to satisfy oil-hungry hydraulic motors on 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 one or more electrically powered air compressors for row shutoffs, pneumatic down-pressure systems, a seed monitoring system, electric clutches that shut off the seeding units, etc., it could blow fuses or trip circuit breakers one night when you turn on the headlights while the air conditioning is running full-tilt.
The important point is to check all of these hydraulic and electrical connections now—not the day before you start planting. If you’re hooking up a 16-row or larger planter for the first time, it will probably take at least half a day and a trip or two to the local dealership to figure out everything.
You can e-mail Dan Anderson at firstname.lastname@example.org.