Update Precision Technology before Planting Begins

Spring officially arrives March 20, so farmers are busy readying equipment.

Many yield variables are determined at the planter: planting date, seeding rate, planting depth, planting conditions, where to place fertilizer, and especially planting precision (singulation/spacing). Many pieces of the puzzle must come together to give your corn and soybeans a good start, but I’m going to focus on the precision part of planter preparation.

Most farmers begin by thoroughly checking their planter by running units on a test stand. Test all bearings, chains (if applicable), hoses, motors, openers, rows cleaners, etc. to ensure they will last through the planting season. You don’t want to have a needless breakdown because worn parts weren’t replaced.

Phil PlantingAnother critically important part of planter preparation is your technology. Make sure all monitor software is current. If it isn’t, this can cause problems with how well it communicates with your planter. Old software can cause functions to glitch or simply fail to work, which is very frustrating in the heat of the battle. Outdated software also may impact how your auto-steer functions. Have your dealer check your monitor for updates because that’s one tool that can reduce operator fatigue during long days during planting season.

Also be sure that field names have been entered, so you can collect data specific to each hybrid or variety. This is pretty simple to do if you’re using Climate FieldView™ as it will prompt you to enter a hybrid once you confirm the field you’re in, or you can pre-load hybrid numbers by field to save time searching or entering them on the go.

If you’re running an OEM monitor in the cab, the biggest challenges are getting to the correct screen on your monitor and then entering the hybrid in the correct box. Some monitors are harder to navigate than others, but this step is important for recording yield data and better managing your operation. A few seconds of work can provide you with “data in hand” come next winter when you’re evaluating products.

“Setup files” for the monitor are really helpful to preload information like hybrids, client-farm-field structure, as well as GPS boundaries for row shut-offs. These files can be loaded into most monitors by creating a setup file in a software program and then transferring it to the monitor by USB stick. This is very helpful for pre-loading hybrid/variety names because they will be available in a drop-down menu, which makes it easy for you to select them. Ask your dealer if your monitor is capable of reading setup files.

One more tip is to print a list of your fields and field names, so you can keep a copy in the tractor cab. If more than one person operates your planter – or if you run more than one planter – then everyone will know which hybrid to plant in each field. Clarification helps save precious time.

If you have any questions, call me at 877-GO-LATHAM (877-465-2842) or email me at phill@lathamseeds.com. You can even ask questions in real time as agronomic information, including precision planting tips, are shared each Thursday during Latham’s Facebook Live broadcast. Check out the videos we post weekly on Facebook. You also can watch archived videos on LathamSeeds.com under “The Field Position” or search our Facebook page for #AsktheAgronomist.

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