Planters Versus Tractors

04:38PM Mar 27, 2020
Michael Barney planting
Modern planters challenge the hydraulic and electric capabilities of tractors.
( Lindsey Pound )

Large folding planters can be hydraulic hogs. Every set of hoses between a tractor and planter might require from 2 gal. to 16 gal. per minute (gpm) of consistent hydraulic oil flow and pressure.

Electric motors, multiple electric clutches and other amperage (amps) gluttons can tax the capacity of alternators on tractors.

Hydraulic and electrical demands for a particular planter are calculated by totaling the gpm or amps required by any components on the planter that run at the same time.

Do the Power Math

For example, a John Deere-Bauer DB60 planter requires:

  • 16.6 gpm to raise and lower the planter.
  • 4.2 gpm to raise marker arms.
  • 2 gpm to 5 gpm for each of its three vacuum-drive motors.
  • 7 gpm for the orbital motor on the central-fill system.
  • 2 gpm to 4 gpm for each of its three seed meter drive motors.
  • 4 gpm for a hydraulically driven air compressor that powers a pneumatic downforce system.
  • 13 gpm to 16 gpm for a hydraulically driven electric generator to power the electric seed meter drives.

So, if a planter’s frame and marker arm are being lifted and the vacuum motors, central-fill orbital motor, air compressor and electric generator are all running while the planter turns on the headlands, the tractor needs to provide at least 62.8 gpm [16.6 gpm + 4.2 gpm + (3 x 5) gpm + 7 gpm + 4 gpm + 16.0 gpm = 62.8 gpm].

Fortunately, not all hydraulically powered systems on planters operate at the same time; some disable while turning on end rows.

Inadequate hydraulic flow could lead to sluggish raising or lowering on headlands and problems maintaining vacuum at seed meters.

Electrical systems on planters can be just as finicky. White notes on their VE series planters that each vDrive seed meter needs 1.25 amps per row, each SpeedTube requires 2.25 amps per row and each DeltaForce down pressure unit needs
1 amp per row.

A 24-row tractor paired with a White VE planter needs to provide at least 54 amps. That’s not counting amps for the tractor’s lights, electromagnetic air conditioning clutch, cab fans and other systems.

Inadequate alternator output creates a range of covert electrical symptoms. Low voltage can cause seed monitors and other displays to dim or produce hieroglyphic-like symbols. Maxed-out alternators might be barely adequate during daylight hours, but blow fuses or trip circuit breakers when turning on a tractor’s lights at sunset.