Top Crop Manager

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Drill maintenance versus proper planting depth

Cannot have one without the other.

November 13, 2007  By Top Crop Manager

36aInstead of trying to address planting depth and drill maintenance as two separate
issues, there are those like Rob Templeman who insist they are more closely

In an age of larger acreages and higher values associated with management efficiencies
and production, one can actually benefit the other. "We've always stressed
planter maintenance more than drill maintenance, yet proper no-till planting
of wheat into bean stubble and no-till beans into corn stalks requires a regular
and diligent drill maintenance program," says Templeman, field agronomist
with Pioneer Hi-Bred. "Yet from a wear and tear standpoint, no-till drills
tend to get much more wear on them than they used to when we worked all our
ground at least once before wheat and full tillage before beans."

With more no-till wheat, however, the wear points on a no-till drill are less
forgiving, and maintaining proper seed depth and coverage are critical to success.
Topping Templeman's list of wear points are coulters, followed by bearings and
then spring mounts. "Any point of movement has the greatest potential for
wear, and some of these growers can put big acres on the drill pretty fast,"
he adds. "Drills with coulter carts tend to have more wear on the front
end while drills without coulter carts and a lot of down pressure on the seed
openers get more wear on the back end."


Drills with single disc seed openers tend to show the greatest amount of wear
on their discs, press wheels and bearings. And, says Templeman, once they begin
to show signs of wear, the components are unable to properly place the seed
and to close the seed trench. "The thing that brings you back to reality
is when you set a new part beside the worn one, and realize how much is gone,"
he notes.

Poor maintenance will also result in more repairs and downtime during the critical
planting season. In today's economy, few can afford that lost efficiency or


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