- Broken, worn, or missing parts can be costly if the equipment does not provide a uniform stand.
- Tire pressure on the planter and pulling tractor should be checked for proper inflation.
- The hitch system should be level between the planter and tractor.
- Entire planter should be checked for cracks, wear, and leaks.
- All safety equipment should be evaluated for proper operation.
Importance of Maintaining Planting Equipment
Cold winter days can be spent performing maintenance on planting equipment. Broken, worn, or missing parts can be costly if the equipment does not provide a properly planted uniform final stand. Corn yield potential can be reduced by 7 to 15 bu/acre when stands are uneven.1
Clean the Machine
A clean planter, free of dust, excess grease, mouse nests, and other residue should help reveal broken, worn, or missing parts. If a new unit has been purchased, it too should be examined for rodents and bird nests.
Inspections and Adjustments
Always refer to the manufacturer’s manual and lock out equipment before performing any maintenance. If the planter is not level, desired planting depth may be compromised. Tire pressure can be an overlooked element of a level unit; therefore, the planter and pulling tractor should be hitched together and tire pressure should be checked on both units according to the manufacturer’s manuals. An observation should be made to see if the hitch system is level between the planter and tractor.
While at the hitch location, hydraulic hoses and connections should be observed for leaks, cracks, and wear (Figure 1). Hoses should then be followed throughout the equipment for evaluation. Electrical connections and wiring throughout the equipment should be observed for abrasions, cuts, or other problems. Additional lighting may be useful to allow for observation into poorly lit areas.
Main steel structural components including hitch, frame, and other structures should be observed for cracks and wear (Figure 2). Questionable items should be repaired or replaced prior to actual operation and adjustments as worn steel could influence seed drop.
Planting units and all supporting parts should be evaluated (Figure 3). Air hoses, gaskets, finger pick-ups, connections, plates, disks, down pressure springs, bearings, sprockets, chains, shafts, and all other parts should be examined closely (Figure 5). These are the elements that put the seed in the ground and can potentially cause seed drop irregularities.
Seed monitors, sensors, and supporting electrical systems should be checked for proper operation. Breaks or cuts in wires could cause the system to short out while planting and looking for a malfunction deep within the framework could be frustrating and time consuming.
All safety equipment should be evaluated for proper operation and function. Tail, brake, and flashing lights should be working properly (Figure 4). Safety shields should be in place and secure (Figure 1). The Slow Moving Vehicle sign should be properly positioned and clean (Figure 4).
After all repairs are completed, the planter should be lubricated accordingly. If possible, a test run in a nearby field should be conducted to see if the unit is functioning properly (Figure 6).
Pre-Planting Season Maintenance Tips
Always refer to the manufacturer’s manual and lock out equipment before performing any maintenance.
- Unit should be cleaned, inside and out.
- Seed meters or seed drop tubes should be free from anything that interferes with their operation.
- Worn parts should be replaced.
- Worn disc openers should be adjusted or replaced.
- Coulters and disc openers should be aligned.
- Worn drum seals or vacuum discs should be replaced.
- Finger pick-up back plates should be checked for rust, residue, and worn-down dimples.
- Seed tube should be cleaned and replaced if excessively worn at bottom.
- Monitor sensors should be cleaned.
- Seed conveyor belt should be checked for brittleness and replaced if needed.
- Chains should be lubricated and replaced if worn excessively.
- Tires should be checked for proper inflation and significant wear.
1 Nielsen, R. 2000. Planter maintenance, there’s still time. Corny News Network. Purdue University. http://www.agry.purdue.edu/ (verified 1/21/2014)