Advancements in planter technology over the past few years have allowed growers to make improvements to their planting pass with upgrades and new purchases (Figure 1).
If you haven’t invested in new planter technology, take a few moments to become familiar with three key areas of planter performance. Many of the upgrades can provide considerable agronomic benefits when looking at what they are designed to do. Here is a quick look at three upgrades that are available and the agronomic benefit they may provide.
Seed meters – Seed meter technology has greatly improved to the point of being nearly 100% accurate at seed singulation with any seed size. Anything over 98% singulation is not thought to hurt yield potential, and meter manufacturers have set the bar high, targeting 100% singulation at the seed meter with a goal for perfect plant spacing. Without a great meter, skips and doubles can penalize top yield potential.
Seed tubes/delivery – High-speed planting can result when a belt or brush carries the seed out of the meter then delivers it to the seed trench. This approach removes the impact of bouncy meters and misplaced seed due to a rough field. The benefit agronomically is more uniform plant spacing with better chances of uniform plant size and nutrient utilization. High-speed planting can also enable better decision-making when planting conditions may be less than ideal since the efficiency of the planter increases by about 50% from a 5 mph to a 7.5 mph planting speed.
Downforce – Quite possibly, in my opinion, the best upgrade growers could make if they already have good-performing meters. Consistent downforce is the major thing that drives consistent seed depth. A consistently planted field can have greater uniformity in emergence, which can help optimize yield potential. It has been proven that springs often provide too much or not enough downforce and are very inconsistent in how it gets applied to the gauge wheels. From this agronomist’s perspective, improving downforce on the planter is a great place to invest.