Tell Me No Lies: How to Ground Truth Your Seed Monitor

02:24PM May 13, 2020
Seed Placement
Check behind the planter to double-check seed monitor accuracy.
( Aimee Cope )

Should you have healthy doubt about what you’re reading on your seed monitor? How often do you need to double check or recalibrate?

“The gospel, when it comes to planting, isn’t displayed on the seed monitor,” says Farm Journal Machinery Columnist Dan Anderson. “It’s what’s in the ground behind the planter. If the seed monitor says there’s a problem, for example, that one row isn’t planting at full rate, or that it’s not planting at all, it’s up to the operator to get out of the tractor, dig seeds and see if the monitor is lying.”

It’s only after you check behind the monitor, you’ll know what’s going on and how to make adjustments. Then, you can maximize your monitor to stay up-to-date on important factors such as singulation, seed spacing, ride quality and downforce.

Here’s what you need to know about these four information streams from your seed monitor:

  • Singulation. The simple definition of 100% singulation is, “One seed dropped at every spot you want a seed to drop,” explains Bryce Baker, integrated marketing manager with Precision Planting. Skips and multiples reduce singulation. If a planter plants 3% skips and 2% multiples, the result is 95% singulation.”
  • Seed Spacing. Seed spacing tracks how seeds are spaced in the furrow. Seeds perfectly singulated by the seed meter can be misspaced in the furrow due to ricocheting inside the seed tube or other delivery issues.
  • Ride Quality. “People confuse ride quality with downforce,” Baker says. “Ride quality is how much the row unit is moving up and down through the field. Downforce is how much weight the gauge wheels are pressing against the soil.”
  • Downforce. Downforce is the total of the inherent weight of a planter row unit combined with additional weight to provide adequate penetration of the disk openers and the desired firming and formation of seed furrows.

Keep an eye on your planter and seed monitor. The best way to make sure it’s performing as expected is to get your hands dirty.