Machinery Journal

January 28, 2017 02:20 AM

By Sonja Begemann and Sara Brown

New Tool Instantly Creates Soil Maps While Planting

When seeds are planted beneath the soil they enter a new world—a world farmers have long tried to understand and perfect. What would you do if you had a window that showed what’s going on underground?


This year, Precision Planting is beta testing their new product called SmartFirmer, which gives farmers a look into the mystery below the soil’s surface. The company expects commercial launch in late 2017. The cobalt exterior combines the traditional seed-packing role of a seed firmer with an optical sensor protected by a sapphire lens that scans what’s going on 2" below the soil surface.

An enhanced look below the soil will allow farmers to automate seeding rate and placement and manually adjust row cleaners to achieve the optimal seed environment.

“Growers who use this will automatically know their percent of organic matter, residue content and percent moisture,” says Cory Muhlbauer, Precision Planting agronomy lead. “SmartFirmer will give you a row-by-row high-resolution map like you’ve never seen.”

The sensor technology attaches to Precision Planting’s current 20/20 SeedSense monitor and immediately shows readings on the monitor and the Climate FieldView app. 

Using SmartFirmer, farmers will also be able to automate seed rates based on soil organic matter.

“We’re introducing the first-ever real-time control and mapping,” Muhlbauer says. “All farmers will have to do is pick what seed population they want at specific organic matter percentages.”

For example, if soil hits 3% organic matter farmers can set the planter to automatically increase corn planting population. In low organic matter areas, the population can be cut to avoid wasting seed in less productive soils. 

The SmartFirmer will also read soil moisture content, which confirms the seeds being planted are in good moisture. If not, depth can be adjusted accordingly, he adds.

No-till, heavy residue and cover crops shouldn’t interfere with accurate soil readings, the company says.

“SmartFirmer detects residue in-furrow and reports back to farmers how clean the furrow is,” says Dale Koch, Precision Planting research and development product manager. “From there, the optical sensor takes the residue out of the signal for organic matter and moisture readings.”

The reading can lead to adjustments, such as increasing the force of row cleaners to clear away residue, Koch adds. 

The SmartFirmer will be available at any Precision Planting Premier Dealer. The company says the new firmers are more durable than traditional plastic materials. 

For more information, visit 

Track Loader Improves Hydraulic Flow to Attachments


The Posi-Track VT-70 from ASV is the company’s first mid-frame, vertical lift compact track loader. The VT-70 features a vertical lift loader linkage for jobs requiring extended reach and level loads, such as loading pallets and hay bales. Power is delivered via a 65-hp Kubota 2.4-liter turbocharged diesel engine with 146 ft.-lb. of torque. At speeds up to 11 mph, the machine features 13" of ground clearance with an open-rail and drive-sprocket design undercarriage and single-level rubber track suspension. To limit material loss, the VT-70 includes ride control to dampen loads in the bucket. ASV manufactures all rollers with maintenance-free mechanical face seals. Tracks are embedded with co-polymer cords for extra strength and a 1,500- to 2,000-hour track life—30% more than steel-embedded track units. ASV offers a two-year, 1,500-hour track warranty. Large hydraulic lines give up to 28.4 gpm hydraulic flow and 3,300 psi to transfer more power to attachments. Rated operating capacity is 2,328 lb. with a tipping load of 6,650 lb. For more information, visit


Back to news


Spell Check

No comments have been posted to this News Article

Corn College TV Education Series


Get nearly 8 hours of educational video with Farm Journal's top agronomists. Produced in the field and neatly organized by topic, from spring prep to post-harvest. Order now!


Market Data provided by
Brought to you by Beyer