Perfect Planter? AGCO Uses Blank Canvas to Paint New Planter Design

05:24AM Jan 23, 2020
Fendt Momentum Planter
AGCO's new FENDT Momentum planter includes a vertical contouring toolbar that hugs the ground and moves, shifts with hills and other changes in farmland.
( AGCO )

AGCO unveiled its first ever Fendt branded planter for the North American market this week, a move the company thinks answers some major pain points producers have while planting.

With a completely new toolbar concept and packed with Precision Planting technology, the company says the Fendt Momentum planter comes with some opportunities to change the way farmers think about planting. Since the company didn’t base its new design off of an existing product, AGCO told Farm Journal the engineering team was able to start with a blank canvas, painting the perfect planter design.

“This was truly an exciting project,” said Rex Schertz, engineering manager for seeding and tillage at AGCO. “Very rarely in an engineer's life do you get a start from just a blank sheet of paper.”

Changing the Way Planters Move

Shertz said the company came up with a North American design and then a South American design, based on requirements with seed spacing and row spacing constraints. Once that piece of the puzzle was set, the engineering team unlocked the potential to change the way farmers plant, and the way planters move.

“We moved the toolbar back, but then there's also the problem that somehow this has to match the groundit goes up and over,” explained Schertz. “That's where that contouring toolbar came in, and that was really the heartbeat that started this all out.”

What Schertz calls the heartbeat is a toolbar that hugs the lay of the land. He said AGCO found one of the biggest issues for farmers is since most land isn’t completely flat, a traditional planter isn’t flexible enough to handle it. That issue was how the vertical contouring toolbar was born.

“Once you start getting into narrow rows, there's not a planter out there today that can really handle the contours of ground,” he said. “If you want to go narrow row spacing, you just kind of accept that if you don't have flat ground, and even if you do, you're not going to hit all the spots in the ground.”

Changing the Way Planters Plant

Alex Lundgren, product manager for seeding and tillage at AGCO, says the contouring toolbar includes sensing technology that will help the planter adjust to hills, valleys and varying soil types in the field while the planter is on the go.

“The Momentum planter has a primary and secondary toolbar,” he said. “What this does for us is it allows us to sense the rows where the parallel linkage is in relation to the row unit, and we're able to automatically adjust that to ensure that the row unit is at the optimal position to plant that seed, so you're getting that even emergence every time.”

The vertical contouring toolbar also comes with Precision Planting technology, which Lundgren says helps with precise seed placement.

Tackling Compaction

Another adjustment engineers made with the new Momentum planter was with wheel placement. The wheels are set in front of the planter, which Shertz said helps the trash from the field flow through the planter correctly. Not only does tire placement at the front of the planter help with compaction, an issue addressed without using tracks, but it also helps eliminate pinch rows.

“For the compaction management, it helps a grower with its intelligent load logic system, which has weight transfer, as well as tire inflation system,” explained Lundgren. “That– combined with the inline tandems–all work together in conjunction to automatically ensure that we are minimizing the compaction to your field.”

“There's an in-line tandem up front,” explained Schertz. “You have one tire stacked in front of the other so you'll get that load distribution that you get with tracks, but yet you get the high speed advantages that you get with tires. And then when we did that, we also put a load spindle on every axle.”

He said the weight of a planter, and the load a tire has to carry, is often what ruins tires quickly.

“We looked at that and we looked at the speed, we looked at the weight and we automatically inflate that tire to be at the optimal to reduce compaction as we go throughout the field,” said Schertz. “That's something that you don't have to worry about with this planter. We take care of all of that for you.”

“With load logic and with inline tandems we have in the tire inflation system, with how that inline tandem is designed and how it's balanced, it's able to go into some challenging areas and be able to float across the field,” added Lundgren. “Those inline tandems give you the flotation of tracks, but you're also able to maintain those proper road speeds to give you that time efficiency that growers want.

Longer Planting Window/Times

AGCO told Farm Journal there were two main goals with the planter: 1) minimize stress and 2) help farmers make more money. Shertz says when it comes to planting, it’s all about timing, and the amount of time it takes to make multiple trips across the field faster. He thinks the automation on the new planter will help farmers plant longer, and more precise, without stopping down.

“How we really addressed that is we made automated systems,” he said. “We have sensors on this planter, that the farmer doesn't have to stop, set the planter, and then get out of the tractor. We have sensors that are really taking care of all of that for them…. We really just tried to take and make it as simple as possible. There’s a lot of complicated stuff that happens back here, but to the farmer, he or she are sitting up there with just a very simple user interface and very intuitive so they can just go.”

Being able to “just go” is something Lundgren said was an important factor in the new planter design, which includes a larger liquid fertilizer tank and twin seed tanks.

“We have 1000 gallon liquid capacity along with 130 bushels of seed,” he added. “So, you can imagine at 35,000 seeds population in corn, you can plant 297 acres before a refill. Between the combination of both of those, we’re able to make sure your uptime is as much as possible.”

Schertz said starting with a blank canvas came with a lot of opportunity to create something U.S. agriculture has never seen before, but it also came with some challenges.

“The problem with a new design is you don't know what you don't know,” he said. “You may create problems that you haven't really seen yet. The advantage we truly had was since this was a global project, we've had a lot of these planters running in South America first. So, we have a reliability now that we're now releasing it in North America, which normally doesn't get to happen with a blank sheet of paper.”

AGCO says the new Fendt Momentum planter will be unveiled to the public at Commodity Classic in February. The company plans to start selling the new planters this summer.