One of the best ways to begin diagnosing problems on your planter each spring is to test its motors, says Bill Bauer, B&M Crop Consulting. By listening to the motors run, you can hear popping, clicking and other noises that indicate misaligned chains, aging bearings and other issues.
To perform that test, Bauer recommends purchasing a separate motor that can be connected to each row unit to check for issues in the shop. For example, his company uses The Original Planter Calibration Unit from Rothwell Ag-Products Inc. For less than $1,000, he says, farmers can get a lot of valuable information that can prevent poor seed placement in the field.
He told farmers at the 2016 Farm Journal Corn College in Albert Lea, Minn., that they'll need to create their own stand for the motor to rest on.
It’s a “cheap investment for what you’re doing,” says Bauer, who notes farmers have a lot of money invested in every row unit of a planter. You can more accurately pinpoint where a sound is coming from by placing the tip of a screwdriver against the section of the planter you are evaluating and holding your ear close to the handle. This amplifies aberrant sounds for proper diagnosis.
It’s important to avoid using your tractor’s hydraulics for this type of planter evaluation, adds Missy Bauer, Farm Journal Associate Field Agronomist. That’s because the tractor’s engine will dominate the airwaves.
“If you’ve got the tractor running, you just can’t pick up the different noises,” she says.
For more on the 2016 Farm Journal Corn College, visit farmjournalcollege.com.