Planter Upgrades with Quick ROI

Your planter is the most important piece of equipment because it has the largest impact from emergence to final yield. Making these three upgrades will provide a return on your investment (ROI).Planting Resized Istock

  1. Closing Wheels in No-Till or Limited-Till Conditions. Closing wheels on a planter ensure the furrow is closed and there is adequate seed-to-soil contact. In a dry spring, this can be the difference as to whether the seed can pull enough water to germinate. If there are air pockets around the seed, it either won’t germinate or it will rot trying. There are many different types of closing wheels and closing wheel systems. Look at your management style and determine if you need spiked wheels to help crumble the furrow wall in tough soil conditions or if you need more aggressive closing action. Then look at the closing wheel systems or one with a walking axle on it. If you conventionally till all your fields in the spring before planting, you likely don’t need this upgrade.
  2. Floating Row Cleaners. Rigid or pin adjust row cleaners have been the standard for many years and can perform well in certain circumstances. However, their limitation is not being able to adjust for changing terrain. Any tillage situation that leaves some residue on top of the soil can benefit from a residue cleaner. Consider switching from fixed to floating if you have been noticing uneven emergence in spots of the field as you roll across different terrain. The row cleaner could be riding high and not clearing a path, resulting in hair pinning, uneven planting depth and residue in the furrow.
  3. Downforce Adjustment. On-the-go downforce adjustments is not the easiest upgrade, but it will likely provide the best ROI in any tillage situation. This upgrade can keep your planter units riding smoother, so more uniform depth is achieved. Depth robs more yield than spacing. Having too little downforce means the unit could be riding up and not getting the seed placed where it should. If conditions are wet, you don’t need as much weight on the unit. Wet conditions or too much weight compact the furrow walls, causing root and early season growth issues. A study done by Agco in 2017 revealed on-the-go downforce adjustments had a 20 bushel per acre (Bu/A) advantage in situations when the down pressure was too light and 6 Bu/A advantage over too much down pressure.

Remember, your operation is not the same as your neighbors’. Be sure to align these planter upgrades with your specific soils and management practices, and they will provide a return for your operation.