Planter Maintenance Tips

 

 

Information Contained On This Page Was Compiled by Dave Lorenz, Planter Calibration Technician with 4 Years of Technical experience. Dave has calibrated over 2,000 rows to an average of 99.7% accuracy.

 

THE SINS OF PLANTING WILL HAUNT YOU ALL SEASON LONG!!!

Doing a better job of planting involves maintenance, adjustments, and good decisions by the planter operator. If just one kernel of corn out of 12 doesn't emerge, it could mean a loss of over $12,000 on 500 acres. Too much speed, worn chains and idlers, or poorly maintained seed meters can cause serious spacing deviations. A delay in seed drop of 1/25 of a second can cause a seed to be 3 1/2 inches off proper spacing. Think of the following items when it comes to maintaining and adjusting your planter for optimum performance this season.

Seed Meter Care

John Deere (non-vacuum) & Kinze Finger Planter Seed Meter Care

NOTE: Number Each Seed Meter and housing according to Row # for accurate re-assembly.

  • Visually inspect meter for worn, damaged or missing parts.
  • Disassemble meter and check bearing
  • Check finger assembly for rust, wear, or broken parts.
  • Check carrier plate for rust and wear.
  • Bead blast belt housing and straighten as needed.
  • Coat inside of belt housing with graphite spray.
  • Re-Install and/or replace belt, idler, bushing, and drive sprocket
  • Align belt
  • Replace brush
  • Install finger assembly and torque nut for proper operation.
  • Re-Install and/or replace cover.
  • Lubricate and install lock if necessary.
  • Paint and/or repaint row number on housing.

General Knowledge: Always thoroughly clean corn from units after planting! Row units should be stored in a heated area to prevent rust. Units should be stored with belt paddles protected.

John Deere Vacuum Planter Seed Meter Care

NOTE: Number Each Seed Meter and housing according to Row # for accurate re-assembly.

  • Visually inspect meter for broken, worn, or missing parts
  • Disassemble meter and check bearing
  • Bead blast interior and exterior of meter, brush holder, lock assembly, chamber, seals, and other parts.
  • Inspect and re-install and/or replace seals.
  • Re-Install plastic meter parts
  • Install new brush
  • Index hub and seed disks
  • Adjust disk to housing clearance
  • Lubricate lock with corn head grease and re-install.
  • Paint and/or re-paint row number on disk and housing
  • General Recommendations: Never store seed disks in row unit. Seed disks should be cleaned in warm water and soap after planting. Spray flat side of seed disks with graphite spray after cleaning. Store seed disks on a rack or dowel to prevent warping. Meters should be stored in a heated area. Seals should be wiped clean at the end of planting season.

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Frame Requirements

  • When planting, the depth control wheels should be firmly on the ground. If you stop the planter and find that you can turn the wheels easily by hand, it indicates that the planter unit is not down and that you are not planting as deep as you want. It also means that seed depth will vary as you cross the field. This condition is correctable by adding down pressure and/or weight to the tool bar.
  • The bottom of the tool bar should be 21" (plus or minus) off the ground where the unit is running. If the bottom of the tool bar is 21 inches, then you need more down pressure to force the planter unit down to where the depth wheels can't be easily turned. But, if the bottom of the bar is 23 inches or higher off the ground and the depth wheels can be easily turned by hand, then you have to add more weight to the tool bar. You cannot transfer more weight from the tool bar to the planter than you have. If you attempt to do that, the down pressure springs will lift the tool bar instead of pushing the units down. For example, a 12-row planter set a 250 pounds of down pressure is attempting to transfer 3,000 pounds from the tool bar to the units. Three point hitch tool bars and many pull-type planter tool bars without fertilizer attachments do not weigh 3,000 pounds. Therefore, the down pressure springs raise the tool bar causing the drive or gauge wheels to slip and change the levelness of the planter unit. This results in it planting on its nose. The height of the tool bar determines whether you need more down pressure or more weight on the tool bar.
  • The side panel of the unit where the seed box sits should be 3/8" to 1/2" lower at the rear. This planter unit position is extremely important because this angle affects the depth of the coulter, the pressure of the closing wheels, and the angle of the seed tube. A planter unit with the back higher than the front is the biggest cause for seed on top of the ground or not being in moisture at a proper uniform depth. To correct this condition, be sure the parallel arms are tight, the tool bar height is controlled 21 inches, and the hitch is raised high enough to allow the back of the unit to be lower than the front. The hitch height could vary 5 inches or more, depending on the weight of the tractor and soil conditions. On a three-point planter without a top link, insure that there is no lifting by the lift assist wheels and move the outboard gauge wheels to the front of the tool bar to move the fulcrum forward. The unit angle of all planters needs to be observed and checked out in the field by a second person while the planter is moving at planting speed---not sitting still on a concrete shop floor.
  • It may be necessary to add gussets (frame support) to the tool bar to eliminate tool bar sag or droop. This can be easily done with minimum cost or labor.

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Drive Wheels

  • Tires should be checked for proper air pressure daily. Equal tire pressure keeps the tool bar level and parallel to the ground. This allows the coulters, disk openers, and closing wheels to run perpendicular to the ground rather than be tilted.
  • Unequal tire pressure causes the drive wheel with the lowest pressure to do all the driving and increases the planting rate due to its smaller circumference.
  • Drive wheel hubs should be drilled and tapped to accept grease zerks.
  • It is crucial that worn tires be replaced with the correct size tire. It may be necessary to replace all tires if there is uneven wear across the planter.

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Chains and Idlers

  • Chains and idlers need to be examined daily. Chains should be replaced annually. John Deere slide idlers can be turned 1/3 turn if worn. Watch chains and idlers for damage caused by stalks and trash in no-till applications.

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Drive Shafts, Bearings & Transmissions

  • Drive shafts and bearings need to be properly lined up to insure smooth operation. Loosen bearing bolts and unhook drive chains to check proper alignment of drive shafts. A hydraulic orbit motor attached to a jack stand is an excellent method of turning drive shafts to check for proper alignment. Bent or miss-aligned shafts or rough or worn bearings will have an adverse affect on seed meter operation.
  • Drive sprockets and transmission gears need to be checked on a regular basis for wear and proper adjustment. Transmission gears and spacers need to be properly lubricated to allow adjustment for population changes.

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Trash Whippers & Row Cleaners

  • Trash whippers and row cleaners need to be properly set and maintained to operate correctly. Miss-adjustment or improper usage can create more problems than they solve. Many types and styles are available. As a rule, row mount units have out performed frame mount units. Off set wheels have produced the best results in the widest range of conditions. Two of the best systems we have seen are the Kinze cam adjustment style and the Dawn screw adjust trash wheels. Both models are available to fit both John Deere and Kinze planters.
  • Testing has shown the 24 or 25 wave coulter performed better than the 8 or 13 wave in nearly all conditions. In wet or sticky conditions, the 2 and 13 waves can remove slabs of soil that can stick to the gauge wheels causing irregular depth control of the row units.
  • A single trash wheel and 24-wave coulter produced the best results on 20" rows. It is important to offset the trash wheels and coulters for the correct trash flow on 20" rows. When standing behind the planter, the trash wheel needs to be on the left side of the disk opener on the left 1/2 of the planter and the coulter needs to be on the right of the opener. Reverse the trash wheel and coulter on the right 1/2 of the planter. This will allow the correct flow of trash and residue.
  • On 30" row and wider planters, double trash wheels with a front mounted coulter set up work well. On this application, the coulter is centered on the disk opener with the trash wheels set on either side. It is very important to never set the coulters to run deeper than the disk openers!

What We Like : The Dawn 4010 Floating Trash whipper with Depth control wheels

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Planter & Marker

  • Planter markers need to be properly adjusted an maintained. Point blades out and adjust forward. Check bearings and mounts for wobble. Pivot pins and cables need to be replaced if worn. Bent marker arms or blades can lead to uneven row spacing. Wear points can be covered with rubber strips to eliminate frame to marker contact.

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Parallel Linkage

  • Worn bolts, bushings, and elongated holes allow the unit to lift at the back. This allows the unit to run on it's nose causing coulters to run too deep, not putting enough pressure on the closing wheels and most importantly, angles the seed tube to the rear so dirt can fall into the seed trench ahead of the seed.

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Disk Opener

  • The diameter of a new disk is 15". Disks worn smaller than 14 1/2" may create a "W" in the seed trench which can cause a difference of up to 3/4" in seed depth.
  • If the bearing is worn allowing the disk to wobble, replace it.
  • Adjust the shims so that the disks contact each other for about 2 to 2 1/2" from front to bottom. Split the adjustment as equally as possible. Don't make all the adjustments on one side. If you need 7 shims, for example use 3 & 4, not 5 &2.
  • Check disks to make sure bearing housings are correctly riveted. In some instances, the bearing housing is riveted crookedly on the disks. In almost all applications, 3mm disk blades out-perform 3.5mm blades. In some extreme rock conditions the 3.5mm disk has shown increased breakage resistance.

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Depth Control Linkage

  • Wheel bearings must be in good condition to eliminate wheel wobble. Wheels must maintain constant contact with disks. The tire should contact the disks for 6" from front to bottom. If the tire edges are worn excessively, they can't be set for proper contact with the disk openers, which will allow dirt to fall between the tire and the disk and into the seed trench ahead of the seed, thus changing seed depth.
  • Rear bushings and depth control arms need to be in good shape to insure they can be properly adjusted to maintain correct contact with the disks.
  • S.I. Distributing offers replacement depth control arms for most John Deere and Kinze planter models. These arms work with both new and worn pivot arm pins and are easily installed and are quickly and easily adjusted.
  • John Deere "quick set" style gauge wheel bushings and arms allow easy wheel to disk adjustment.
  • Case IH gauge wheel tires and gauge wheel assemblies are recommended for use on all planters. The design of these tires help prevent sidewall compaction of the seed trench.
  • Walking gauge wheels are an absolute must. John Deere offers kits to fit almost all planter applications. These allow proper depth control of the row unit in rocky and almost all no till situations. All applications are direct bolt on replacements.

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Seed Tubes and Sensors

  • Check seed tubes for wear and replace if the lower end is split or worn thin.
  • Be sure seed tubes are installed correctly and securely. On John Deere planters, seed tube guard part #A61577 is recommended. This is a direct replacement for all planters. This part helps prevent seed tube wear due to misalignment and contact with the disks. all seed tube guards need to fit snugly to prevent excessive flex and movement. It may be necessary to drill roll pinholes to 5/16" to eliminate this condition.
  • Seed tubes and sensors need to be kept clean. Seed tubes should be cleaned frequently when talc, graphite and other additives are used. Seed tubes should have lower ends covered with tape during off=season storage to discourage insect inhabitation.
  • Flexible plastic wire loom needs to be installed in all potential wear points on seed tube sensor wires.
  • Sensors should be tested for proper operation and vibration sensitivity annually.

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Closing Wheels

  • The closing wheels should be adjusted so that they are equal distance from the center of the seed trench. Bushings, bolts and eccentrics need to be in good condition to prevent side-to-side movement of the wheels.
  • The down pressure on the closing wheels should be adjusted according to soil type and moisture conditions. Correct down pressure should eliminate air spaces at the bottom of the seed trench and close the trench without creating sidewall compaction. It is important to use the least possible down pressure to create correct seed to soil contact. Field studies have shown sidewall compaction rates as high as 800 -- 850 PSI! corn roots will not penetrate compaction rates of more than 300 -- 350.
  • John Deere, Case IH and Shoup all offer disk-closing style closing wheel assemblies. These are all direct bolt-on style replacements for nearly all John Deere and Kinze planters.

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Seed Boxes

  • Excessive seed box motion will cause seed meters to improperly drop seed into the seed tube. Many times, this can be corrected by slightly bending the attachment brackets on the planter frame. Mounting brackets on the seed boxes may be adjusted by loosening the bolts and allowing the box to center itself while checking shaft alignment. Shims may be needed to properly align the box.
  • Seed boxes need to be checked regularly for buildups of seed treatments, graphite, or talc. These buildups, along with straw, seed bag string, bag tabs, etc. can cause problems with seed flow to the seed meters.
  • Seed boxes need to be evenly filled to distribute weight evenly across the planter. In wet or sandy conditions, 3bu. seed boxes may cause excessive compaction and rutting if over filled. They may weigh from 120 to nearly 200 lbs. per row when full.

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Keeton Seed Firmers & Rebounders

  • Many times, Keeton Seed firmers and Rebounder's are used in liquid fertilizer applications. Research has shown that incorrectly setting fertilizer rates and/or down pressure has adversely affected seed spacing and germination. USER ASSUMES ALL RISK ASSOCIATED WITH LIQUID STARTER APPLICATION!
  • Keeton seed firmers and/or Rebounders can be used with our starter fertilizer tubes, however you will need to use the Keeton bracket that doesn't wrap around the front of the row unit. The bracket that wraps around the front of the row unit and our tube interfere with each other. Put the fertilizer where it needs to be, under the seed, with our product, and get the benefit of a seed firmer at the same time.

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General Information

  • DO NOT PLANT AROUND CORNERS! Planting around corners places extreme stress on parallel arms and other row unit components.
  • Planting straight into the field will help eliminate running over your crop when combining.
  • Following the same track every trip with the grain cart and truck will eliminate excess compaction problems. Most compaction occurs on the first pass.
  • These are general guidelines for all planters. Be sure to read planter manual for specific recommendations for your planter. You only have one chance to plant your crop correctly. Please take time to check your planter for proper operation BEFORE you get to the field.
  • Remember--- THE SINS OF PLANTING WILL HAUNT YOU ALL SEASON!

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