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How to Use Your Planter Efficiently

Planting your crops is just another chance to show off your precision agriculture skills as a modern farmer. Not only is this arguably the most important time of year for your farm but it’s also when you’ll be busiest, besides harvest time. So, this spring why not start things a little differently? Your tried and tested method might work ok, but with changing markets you’ll soon need to do even better to keep up. Try this method of preparing your seed planter and hopefully you’ll start to see the benefits emerge much sooner than expected…

The key to successful seed germination is all in the planting. If you can master maintaining and using your planter efficiently, you can see increased yields and healthier crops all year round! Follow these 3 simple steps to get your planter in shape this season ready for getting out on the fields.

Step 1 – Seed Size and Speed

Choosing your seeds for the next season was a decision you could have made years ago, when you first hashed out your crop rotation schedule… but the market changes and evolves, new seeds and new variants are now available. So, when it comes to ordering stock for the next season, there are a few things you should consider.

Firstly, order as early as possible. No matter how amazingly efficient you make your planter, if you have poor quality, last minute seeds, you’ll end up with poor quality, last minute crops. Look for seeds that are the right size and shape for your planter, and also ask for figures on seed size consistency. If you’re ordering early you should get a much more consistent lot of seeds compared to ordering late in the season.

The operating speed is determined by the seed size, seed bed conditions, and lastly the meter (which you’ll be checking next). Take into consideration all 3 factors when setting the speed of your planter.

Step 2 – Running Checks

Checking your planter is an important job – if you want to do it properly, search our blog for the planter maintenance checklist. You should always pay particular attention to the meter and seed tubes, as these parts are vital for running an efficient planter.

How you calibrate your meters really depends on what type they are. For example, finger type meters will need to be more carefully checked against the seed shape and size as they are particularly sensitive. Run a quick test, checking that all the meters are working the same and at optimum for the seeds you have.

Next, take a look at the seed tubes, make sure that any worn parts are replaced – take the tubes off the planter to do this so you can inspect for any cracks, chips or worn off areas. If you don’t replace faulty tubes you could end up with a blockage or worse: seed ricochet. All your effort for optimised seed planting will be ruined if you don’t follow this step carefully.

Step 3 – Finding the Optimum

This is the last step before you’re ready to get planting, make sure to get it right, don’t rush it!

First, head out onto the field in question and record data on soil temperature, firmness and moisture content. Doing this for each field you’re planting in this season individually, don’t use the same data for all fields as what is optimum for one won’t be for another.

Standard seed depth is 2 inches at most, but if you’re prone to top soil erosion or have found your top layer of soil to be much drier than deeper down, you may wish to increase the seed depth. Doing this should be easy on your planter, just turning a dial and adjusting the wheels… however, it’s wise to actually test that your planter is doing as you’ve calibrated.

Go for a test run before getting stuck in on your fields. Measure the distance between each seed planted and the depth they’re planted at to ensure that your planter is all aligned and calibrated correctly.

The very last thing you should do this year is record what worked well and how you calibrated your machine. If you’ve found a successful method you’ll want to ensure you remember how you did it for next year!

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