Planter Tune-Up


When you are preparing for planting season, you need to be confident that your planter is in tip top shape. Browse this web page for planter tune-up tips from Solid Rock Farms.

 

 

Opening Disks

  • Shimming: There are two common sizes of opener disks. In general Deere uses a 3mm thickness and Kinze uses a 3.5mm. Slide business cards on either side of the contact point of the disks. The distance between the two cards should be around 1-1.5″ on a 3.5mm and 1.5-2.5″ on a 3mm blade. Be sure to do this on several locations on the blade as they are often not perfectly true. Adjust the shims
    accordingly. When shimming, try to put as close to an equal amount on each side as possible. Disks that are too loose will cause a “W” instead of a “V” trench causing uneven emergence. If the disk is too tight, the bearings can blow out causing a “W” as well.Seed_Opening_Disk_Measurement
  • Disk Wobble: If there is a substantial variation from one rotation of the blade to another, we recommend isolating each disk and using a magnetic dial indicator to see which one is the problem. If a disk wobble is around .06″, we recommend returning it and using a different one.
  • Check Disk Hubs: We have found brand new opening disks with the bearings not pressed into the housing correctly. If this is the case, the disks will start opening up and have gaps in them while planting. The way you can check this is when one disk is mounted on your shank, give a good tug on the outside of blade. If you feel it shift at ALL in the housing it is bad and needs replaced.Disk_Scraper
  • Check Disk Diameter:The total diameter of a new opening disk is 15″. Once it gets to be 14.5″ or less it is time to replace the disk.
  • Disk Scrapers: There are several different kinds of disk scrapers. The standard steel scrappers tend to be the quickest to wear out. Once it is worn to were the bend point is, it needs replaced. We really like the rotary scrapers because they seem to last a lot longer. Once they do wear past the plastic on one side of the wheel, you can simply flip it around and have a new surface.
    • Another thing to think about when adjusting your disks is that many times your scraper adds a significant amount of pressure on the opposite side of the contact point of the disk. It is a good idea to check the measurement of the contact point AFTER you have installed the scrapers to make sure you still do not have any gap. Some metal scrapers may actually need to be pried slightly away from the disk. (just remember to keep enough pressure that dirt and stalks don’t build up between the scraper and disk)
    • Scraper Pressure: Another thing to think about when adjusting your disks is that many times your scraper adds a significant amount of pressure on the opposite side of the contact point of the disk. It is a good idea to check the measurement of the contact point AFTER you have installed the scrapers to make sure you still do not have any gap. Some metal scrapers may actually need to be pried slightly away from the disk. (just remember to keep enough pressure that dirt and stalks don’t build up between the scraper and disk)

Gauge Wheels

  • Check For Wobble: Before setting them, it is important to make sure the wheel is true when it spins. If it is really wobbly, you will not ever be able to set it correctly. Using a deadblow hammer, you can usually tweak it so that it is close enough to set.
  • Setting: Gauge wheels need to be tight against the opener disks. If not, dirt will get into the seed trench causing uneven emergence. We like them tight enough so that when you lift them to planting position and turn them, it slightly turns the disks as well. However we don’t want them so tight that when you lift the up they don’t come back down.
  • Threaded Gauge Wheel Arm: When working with the threaded tightening system, it is important to realize that these brass collars wear. Because of this, you need to be checking them throughout the season and tightening when needed.
  • Spacer Gauge Wheel Arm: If you are using the spacer tightening system, (Standard with Kinze) make sure that you never change the total amount of shims you have on each gauge wheel arm. If it is too loose, remove spacers out of the inside and install them on the outside. Always make sure you have at least one spacer between the arm and the shank. If you have used all spacers and are still too loose, it may be time to replace either the shank rod, gauge wheel rubber, or the spacer inside the gauge wheel arm.

Closing Wheels

Closing_Wheel_Alignment

  • Alignment: Your closing wheels need to perfectly straddle the seed trench. To check this, you can lower the planter onto concrete and pull forward scribing a line. This will show where the trench is in relation to the closers. (we like to use boards so we don’t scratch our concrete) Because not all row units track perfectly true, you need to check this in the field as well to be sure you have them set correctly.
  • Spacing: Closing wheels should be set so that the center of each wheel presses the soil at 2.5″ apart. Typically, this will mean the inside measurement is around 2″. This puts the pressure right on the seed instead of too high or too low. If you are using spiked closing wheels, (especially long spikes) you want to space them out more so that the spike doesn’t start pulling seed out of the seed trench. No matter what, you always need to check this measurement in the field as well. It is very common for row units not to run perfectly straight through the field, which can change this position.

Row UnitRow_Unit_Slop

  • Row Unit Slop: If you lift up on the row unit, there should be very little any slop. If you can pull it up much more than half an inch, we recommend trying the following.
    • 1st: Make sure the U-Bolts holding the row unit to the bar are tight. It is very common for these to loosen up slightly and cause slop.
    • 2nd: If the U-Bolts are tight, go ahead and replace all of the bushings in the upper and lower parallel arms. If you do this right, replacing one arm at a time, you wont ever have to support the entire row unit.
    • 3rd: If the row unit still has slop, we recommend replacing the upper parallel arms. In our experience, the upper parallel arms are much more prone to be causing the problem than the lower.
    • Finally if your row unit still has slop, its time to replace the bottom parallel arm.
  • Bar Height: In order to make sure your row unit is running level, always make sure the height to the top of the bar is around 20″
  • Check for Weak Areas. Especially if your row unit is stamped instead of cast, check for cracks and reinforce as needed.
  • Check For Bent Units: Sight down the shanks and make sure they are not bent. Row unit shanks can bend from turning too tight while planting or hitting rocks. If they are bent, it can put extra stress on the disks and the trench may not be made quite right.it can also throw the closing wheels off of the trench.
  • Keep the Tongue Level: It is very important to keep the planter bar level. If it is not, the row unit will not perform as it was designed. Any Coulter running in front will be deeper, and closing system will be applying less force. If for any reason you have to error on one side or the other, always position the tongue slightly upwards.

Seed Drive System

  • Chains: Make sure all chains are lubricated frequently. Check and make sure there is not any links locking up as this can very easily cause bad spacing and singulation.
  • Spin Shafts: It is a good idea to disconnect any drive chain and just spin your meter drive shafts. They should turn relatively easily. If they don’t, its likely that there are bearings going bad, or chains locking up.
  • Spin Chain Idlers: Check for bad bearings
  • Check for Misaligned Drive Cogs: If the cogs that connect the drive shaft to a folding wing is not aligned, it will cause spacing to oscillate.
  • Check Tire Pressure: On a ground drive planter, if your drive tire has too little or to much pressure, this will change the diameter and thus change population.
  • Analyze Previous Year Spacing and SRI: One of the easiest and most effective ways to track down planter issues before getting to the field, is to examine your SRI (standard deviation), and spacing from your previous year planting maps. This high definition data can bring out patterns and issues that would be much harder to pick out otherwise.

Depth

Consistent depth is one of the most important things to get right on your planter. This is one of the best ways to get even emergence in your field.

  • How Deep? The general rule you will hear is 1.5 – 2″ deep; however, we like to plant around 2″ – 3″ depending on the conditions of the soil. Many studies show deeper planting wont hurt you, and we would always rather error on the deep side. The dryer the soil, the deeper we want to plant in order to get to the moisture.
  • Setting: To set your depth, we recommend using 4×6 wood blocks (fertilizer injectors can cause problems if using 4x4s’) below your gauge wheel tires. Drop the planter so they are resting on boards. Then using a level, mark a straight line on the disk even with the gauge wheel and measure to the bottom of the disk. Use this method on every row and set them to where they need to be using the depth adjuster. Once the depth is perfectly consistent on every row, we like to mark these positions on the planter so when we measure and adjust depth in the field, (which should always be done) we stay consistent across the row units.