Originally written February 1, 2006 | Last updated October 16, 2012
Follow the operator's manual recommendations for correct preparation of the
planter for field use.
- Inspect and level planter
- Inspect and level planter
- Improper leveling of the planter can cause irregular seeding depth that may
result in seeds being planted too deep or too shallow.
- Generally, the tool bar or main frame should operate parallel to the ground,
both front to rear and side to side.
- Leveling pull-type planters primarily involves adjusting the hitch
position and setting the cylinder stop on the carrying wheels.
- To level from front to rear, the hitch can be raised or lowered by adjusting the
bolt position where the hitch clevis attaches to the planter tongue.
- Three-point lift arms or gauge wheels can be used to establish the proper height
of the tool bar above the ground on semi-mounted and mounted planters.
- To level these planters from side to side, adjustments may be required in both
the gauge wheels and the lift arms.
- Top link adjustments generally are used to level mounted planters from front to
- The cylinder stop on lift assist wheels are used for front to rear leveling
- On planters equipped with runner or slot shoe seed furrow openers, the planter
should operate with the back of the opener slightly lower than the front.
- This "tail down" position helps create a well-formed seed furrow with a firm
- A firm bottom is required for planters which use a narrow seed firming wheel to
push the seed into the soil.
- Adjust planting depth and seeding rate
- To achieve uniform soil penetration, planters used in no-till may require more
weight than ones used in tilled soil.
- Down-pressure springs generally are used to transfer weight from the toolbar to
the row units.
- Usually located on the parallel linkage supporting the row units, down pressure
springs may need tightening to achieve greater soil penetration.
Inspect equipment after the planting season when more time is available to
replace worn or broken parts.
- Check shafts, bearings, seals and gaskets for wear and replace them as
- Pay close attention to fiberglass and plastic parts since they may become
brittle and crack with age.
- Replace worn parts, especially in the seed metering and drive components.
- Lubricate all chains and grease fittings and replace if necessary.
- Check all bolts and clamps for proper tightness.
- On older planters, springs may need to be added or existing springs may need to
be replaced with stronger ones. The frame must be heavy enough to prevent the
springs from lifting the drive wheels off the ground. If necessary, weights may
be added to the frame, or liquid fertilizer tanks may be kept partially filled
with fertilizer or water.
A range of three to seven miles per hour usually gives satisfactory seeding
- Under cloddy or rough field conditions, ground speed should be lower to avoid
equipment bounce and subsequent slippage of the drive, loss of depth control and
inadequate seed covering.
- Finger pickup planters tend to increase seeding rates at higher field speeds
because more than one kernel may be dropped at a time.
- Problems with air planters vary depending on the design, but at higher speeds,
skips or doubles may occur.
- Seeding rates are reduced with plate planters because the seeds do not always
drop into the cells at higher speeds.
The devices driving the seed metering mechanism can be carrying wheels, gauge
wheels, press wheels or coulters. Slippage of these drive units can result in
seeding rates that are less than desired.
- Slippage of press wheel drives may occur more often than with carrying or gauge
wheels because they operate in soil loosened by the seed furrow opener. While
additional weight or down-pressure springs can reduce press wheel slippage, too
much weight on the press wheel can cause excessive soil compaction around the
seed, resulting in poor emergence.
- Soil conditions are a factor influencing slippage of carrying wheel, gauge wheel
and coulter drives. Loose or tilled soil conditions increase the potential for
slip, especially on coulter drives. On planters with carrying and gauge wheel
drives, additional weight can help reduce slippage.
Tire pressure is important in carrying and gauge wheel drives. Tires inflated to
the recommended level tend to make planting more accurate.
- An under-inflated tire has a smaller circumference, causing more rotations at a
given ground speed. This causes the metering mechanism to drop more seeds, and
- Conversely, over-inflated tires cause under-planting.
The uniformity of seed or plant spacing can be used to judge planter
performance. Using this as a criterion, research has been conducted in Nebraska
to evaluate planter performance in different tillage systems. Results showed
that seed spacing uniformity in current planters was unaffected by tillage
systems. Performance in no-till and other reduced tillage conditions
was as good as the performance in cleanly tilled, residue-free conditions.
With accurate seed placement, competition for nutrients and soil moisture is
reduced and crop yields can be increased. Regardless of the tillage system used,
successful planting can be achieved by maintaining and properly adjusting