In The Shop: First Day in the Field with Hi-Tech Planters

Published on: 20:15PM Apr 13, 2020

In my last blog I went over some common first-day-in-the field setup tips for planters. This time I'll focus on issues common with planters that have a lot of high-tech components that need special attention.

If the planter uses an air compressor to activate row shut-offs, to provide downforce for row units, or to raise/lower row cleaners and/or closing wheels, be sure to change the oil in the air compressor and replace the air filter. I suggest replacing the filter rather than cleaning it because planters are exposed to extremely powdery dust that is tough to completely blow out of air filters without tearing the filter media.

Planters that have hydraulically-powered downforce systems should be purged, flushed and calibrated as recommended in the owner's manual to ensure no air or contamination will foul those sometimes sensitive systems.

"Zero" all vacuum, downforce and other systems that should register "zero" when the planter is raised and not moving, to ensure they are accurate when the machine is lowered and planting.

High-speed seed meters driven by electric motors should be "run-off," either as part of the entire planter or row-by-row. Make sure all seed meters are running at similar rpms and torques by checking those values on the display in the tractor.

Remember the pros and cons of high-tech planters: the more technology, the more things that can go wrong, but that technology is often able to self-diagnose and help you figure out how to fix it. Be sure to test-run all the different high-tech systems before going to the field, so they can tell you whether or not they are "happy."