Our dealership held its annual planter clinics last week. It was an opportunity to compare notes with not only mechanics from our other stores, but from farmers who are on the front lines of the annual battle to plant their crop quickly AND accurately. Here are a few tidbits that seemed of special interest to those who attended:
-Smooth seedbeds improve seed placement in the furrow. If it's possible when field cultivating ahead of a planter to run that field cultivator parallel with the way the planter will run, it reduces "hop" of the seed units as they move over the grooves left by field cultivator sweeps and tine levelers. GPS guidance or autosteer makes this possible even in dry soil conditions, when a disk marker's furrow would be lost in the field cultivator's ridges and furrows.
-On certain brands of planters that have small, rocking agitators at the bottom of their central fill seed hoppers, those agitators are in motion any time the planter is lowered and the tank pressurizing fan is running. If those agitators and the tank's pressurizer fan are left running for extended periods of non-planting (over lunch, during repairs, etc.) the constant supply of air pressure and the constant agitation of the seed can lead to severe plugging of the seed delivery tubes. It's best to shut down the tank pressurizer fan and agitator if the planter won't actually be planting for more than 5 or 10 minutes.
-Unless there are OBVIOUS mechanical reasons to route hydraulic hoses and electrical harnesses otherwise, run them on the bottom side of 3-point quick-tach frames. Use a rubber tarp strap to dangle them from the upper cross frame. If you farm in hilly country, consider removing the top hook from the center of the quick-tach frame. When going through gullies or draws the planter and tractor can get at enough angle to each other so that hook can snag the hoses and harnesses running from the front of the planter, and rip them asunder. I say "asunder" because the resulting mess of broken hydraulic hoses and frayed electrical wires is a problem of Biblical proportions.
-There seems to be an advantage to using a blend of talc and graphite in central fill planters that use vacuum seed metering. 80 percent talc, 20 percent graphite. Talc controls clumping due to humidity, graphite improves lubrication and reduces problems with static electricity build-up in seed delivery tubes.
-And this social media tip, overheard from two young farmers whispering at the back of the meeting: Don't post anything on Facebook, Twitter or any of the other social media sites that you don't want your old man--or mother--to know about or see. No matter how bored you get sitting in the tractor while the autosteer does the work. Us older folks are apparently getting pretty "hip" to this smartphone technology...but we still have a relatively dim parental sense of humor about our children's activities.