Ignore The Numbers When Planting

Published on: 01:59AM Apr 17, 2015

Planters are rolling in our territory, and some of the most common questions I hear are, "What depth setting is everybody running at?", or "How much down-pressure should I use?" The questioners are hoping to hear a discrete number of notches that is the magic number for planting depth, or a definite spring notch or air bag setting for down-pressure.

Sorry folks, I refuse to give out numbers. I don't actually care what the numbers are. What I care about are the conditions in the field where we're planting. To set depth I wait till we're off the endows, and then I dig, and dig and dig to determine the ACTUAL average depth of seed placement. Then I adjust depth deeper or shallower depending on what the customer wants. While I'm digging for depth, I'm paying attention to how hard the soil is between the rows, how hard the seed furrow sidewalls are, and then use that info to develop a feeling whether more or less down-pressure is needed.

My final decision on down-pressure often comes after I kneel beside the planter when it's in planting position, and turn one of the gauge wheels. I want to be able to turn it for maybe a quarter turn, with a little "grunt" needed to break it loose. If I can turn it easily, I need more down-pressure. If I can't turn it at all, I need less down-pressure.

In the end, it's useless to ask the mechanic, your neighbor or your best friend what "settings' you should use. The only way to get accurate answers is to ask the field and let it tell you how to set your planter.