Don't Call With Clean Pants
May 01, 2017
I've known some of my customers for decades, and can take diagnostic liberties when they call me on the phone. Last week a good friend called, concerned that his planter wasn't planting correctly. He asked if there was anything he could check himself, to avoid the cost of having me make a service call, and then read from the seed monitor display in the cab all the singulation rates, planting population, down-pressure readings and every other number he could find on the screen.
I considered the symptoms, then asked, "Are your pants dirty?
He was taken aback, and didn't give me a clear answer, so I asked again, "Are your pants dirty? Do the knees of your pants have dirt on them?"
There was silence for a moment, then he chuckled and said, "Okay, I get it. I'll spend some time digging behind the planter and call you back."
He did, and eventually determined that the planter was under-populating because of skips, so I had him turn up the vacuum a bit. He called back later and said the planter was working great.
It is so easy with modern technology to sit in the tractor cab and judge planter performance by what the seed monitor shows. But anything on that screen is merely a representation of the reality in the soil behind the planter. Until somebody gets their knees dirty and digs up at least 6 feet of several rows and counts/measures seeds, there's no way to tell if the monitor is telling the truth.