Throttle Forward

February 12, 2014 02:00 AM
Throttle Forward

Updated row units provide the foundation for John Deere’s high-speed planter that performs at 10 mph

It’s going to cause a double take in farm country when farmers double their planter speed. For model year 2015, John Deere introduces its high-performance ExactEmerge planter, which breaks conventional speed limitations—advertising speeds of 10 mph for ideal performance.

Before the speed of the machine could be made known, the company developed a new family of row units.

"Our goals were high-quality planter performance, which equals seed placement plus even emergence," says Elena Kaverina, product manager. "For the MaxEmerge 5 row unit, we merged
the best of the MaxEmerge XP and Pro-Series. The row unit could be called the heart of any planter."

The MaxEmerge 5 will be a common design across all John Deere planters for 2015 in mini, 1.6 bu., 3 bu. and 2 bu. twin-row hopper options. The meter is accessible for clean-out without remov­ing the seed box, and switching crops is easier without tools. A common double eliminator with an adjustment knob shows settings for various crops.

John Deere engineers reduced elbows and improved the vacuum source to create more uptime and maintain population on extreme sidehills.

Built for speed. The new row unit is the platform for the ExactEmerge.

"We addressed the top five customer needs—maintain uniform depth, accurate seed spacing, accurate seed population, easy-to-use monitoring system and no machine downtime," says
Kelby Krueger, product manager. "We’ve been doing extensive testing for quite a few years—the past three years were in fields with growers across the Corn Belt."

He shares the story of how he planted a field for a farmer test cooperator in strips at 5, 7.5, 10 and 13 mph. In side-by-side rows that were planted at 5 mph and 13 mph, the farmer saw no difference. There was no striping across the passes at different speeds. At harvest, yield was the same.

Turning traditional planter setups on their head, the ExactEmerge features a rear-facing bowl-shaped meter and brush belt trench-delivery system that releases the seed only 2" from the trench bottom.

"Before, the seed tube was a limiting factor in speed," Krueger says. "The brush belt controls the seed from the meter to the trench. There’s no bounce or roll—just a true dead drop. It actually shoots the seed at a rearward tra­jectory, matching the speed of the tractor. The seed’s relative ground speed is zero."

As the bristles revolve around the top of the belt, they open to accept the seed and condense back tighter as it travels toward the furrow. A belt conditioner located at the bottom of the return "flicks" any residue to clean the system. With the new brush belt, a graphite-talc blend of seed lubricant is advised.

With seed size variations in mind, the bowl-shaped meter and brush belt delivery provide no adjustments, despite seed shape and size.

"Just as a test, we loaded the bowl meter with eight different hybrids and planted it all simultaneously with no changes," Krueger says.

Redefine accuracy. The John Deere team urges farmers to rethink how they measure planter accuracy with a coefficient of variation (CV).

"By breaking the accuracy to speed link, it’s no longer important to just talk about singulation," Krueger says. "Rather the seed spacing, which is best measured by coefficient of variation, CV is displayed on the new SeedStar 3 HP monitor. Now with ExactEmerge, the spacing has very little degradation from the seed sensor to the ground. Data on the monitor and the spacing in the trench have never been closer."

Depth control is very important due to its impact on emergence. Active down force is standard on ExactEmerge to ensure there’s enough down force.

"Maintaining depth control at higher speeds is really a two-step process. The first part is to create a trench at a consistent depth set by the operator. The second part is the brush belt trench delivery system placing the seed in the bottom of the trench and the seed matching the ground speed to make sure it stays there. Add these two together and there is excellent depth control," Krueger says.

It’s advised that seeding rate be within 5% of the optimum target rate for a field to have little to no negative yield impact. The ExactEmerge maintains population within 1% of target rates.
Speed amplifies the importance of spacing accuracy and even emergence.

"With increased speed, seeds per second will increase. At 5 mph, the traditional meter delivers 15 corn seeds per second. But at 10 mph, that’s 30 seeds per second. For soybeans, it’s around 60 seeds per second today. But at high speed, that’s 135 seeds per second," Krueger says.

Each row unit has two electric brushless motors, which rotate the meter and brush belt independently. The speed of the meter dictates population, and spacing is done with the brush belt. A controller on each row sets how fast the meters should turn.

"Vacuum sensors are now located on the row, not the main frame. There are built-in ride-quality sensors mounted on the rows," Krueger says.

The ExactEmerge planter uses an all-new 56-volt electric-drive system mounted by the CCS tank.
The SeedStar 3 HP allows for live data display. At higher speeds, there’s more data to analyze, including reflective seed sensors on the belt brushes that count every seed.

The increased electric usage also demands more from the hydraulic system—12 gal. per minute (gpm) for the new PowerGen, versus 8 gpm with variable-rate drive.

"As speed changes, so does your needed horsepower to pull the equipment. If you plant at 5 mph today and want to increase to 10 mph, it will require an 80% increase in engine horsepower," Krueger says.

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