There has been no shortage of planter technology to hit the market over the last several months, and although much of the technology is very beneficial, it is NOT all created equal.
High speed planters are all the buzz right now, and here is the most important piece of information I can offer – If you don’t have hydraulic down force, you don’t have a high speed planter. The only chance of reacting quick enough to allow faster planting speeds is with hydraulic down force. If you have airbags or springs on the planter, the rest of the technology doesn’t matter. You simply cannot maintain proper depth, and therefore I would suggest slowing down.
Several manufacturers of equipment and technology now have electric drives and hydraulic down force in today’s market, so do they all do the same thing? Not exactly.
Some of the electric drives have turn compensation, some don’t. Some of the turn compensation works by averaging 4 rows together, some run row by row. Some of the electric drives require a special meter from the manufacturer to work. Some of them run 24 volts instead of 12, which in my mind offers potential to have something get hooked up wrong and burn it up!
With hydraulic down force, there are significant differences as well. Some of the systems offer a one way valve, only offering down force. Some have two way hydraulics which allow for uplift, but don’t have any type of relief valve, in case you hit a rock or ditch.
Probably the biggest differences with all of the systems is the display to run everything. One company claims how simple their display is to run, requires that you put in a second display if you want to add hydraulic down force. Population monitoring and electric drives on one screen, down force on a second screen. Another company can run everything with one screen, unless you want to see a map of what you are doing, then you need to put an iPad in the cab to show everything else. Neither of these companies has the ability to run auto steer or much for additional functionality.
The last thing to consider when looking and planter technology, or technology in general is the type of support available and knowledge of the company you are purchasing from. It doesn’t matter how good the technology is if you can’t get any help on how to run it!
All of that being said, the reasons that we do the things we do become obvious once you dig into the options.
HTS Ag works exclusively with Ag Leader Technology, because their display is by far the most powerful, all in one display on the market. You can run EVERYTHING on one screen, including your auto steer, planter, liquid starter, sprayer, fertilizer spreader, combine and more. It works with any color tractor, hooked to any color planter, and is easily moved to additional vehicles. Their SureForce hydraulic downforce system has a two way hydraulic setup, offering uplift in places where the weight of the row unit is too much down force, and can also add 600 lbs of downforce for those really hard conditions. Their design has a relief built into the system, in case something goes wrong when you are in the field. Their electric drives work with most meters on the market, so you don’t have to invest large dollars in new meters, when you are happy with the ones you have. Finally, HTS Ag has the highest training available from Ag Leader, and we have also field tested these systems so we have first hand knowledge of them.
To me, it makes much more practical sense to invest money making your existing planter better, instead of buying a new planter. With today’s technology, we can make an older planter perform just like a new high speed planter for a fraction of the cost.
This fall, as you are out combining, you can spend some time evaluating your stand, either from the combine or grain cart, and if you see some room for improvement, contact us to learn what the impact to your operation can be by properly implementing technology in your operation.