Before the mercury bottoms out this winter, you might want to get in a little planter maintenance.
While it's very important for farmers to make sure their planter is mechanically sound, it's also important to check the electronics and technology on today's planters.
"The electronics on your planter affect productivity and bottom line, just like the nuts and bolts," says Phil Jennings, Kinze Manufacturing service manager.
After farmers check their planter's mechanics, there is a separate checklist of items they should check regarding their monitors and technology. For farmers to ensure their planter monitor is running properly, Jennings recommends three basic areas to check: display operation, display data/software and the planter components.
When checking planter electronics, start in the cab. Plug in the display and turn it on. Farmers should take their time inspecting things like the main power connections and relays, harness routings through doors and windows, and GPS connections. Scroll through the different operation screens to make sure that all of the sensors and modules register on the display as they should.
Next, farmers should check to be certain they are running the latest version of the software in their display. Updates often become available more than once a year. Staying up-to-date gives the operator solutions that may apply to more than just the planting season. What about the information or applied data that is still in the display's memory from last season? Make a copy and purge unnecessary files from the display. Doing the same for old products and out of date field information can help avoid confusion when navigating through the display later. Now is the time to enter new data; farmers can start plugging in the new seed variety numbers, field changes or implement information.
Last, farmers need to inspect the planter components. Carefully follow the wiring harness routing from hitch pin to seed tube. Stay focused on any areas that move when the machine is folded and around the row unit chains and parallel arms. Be sure to add new tie straps or guarding where necessary. The culmination of this process should be a full function system check.
Planters equipped with a hydraulic drive should be run in the shop allowing farmers to verify that the row unit clutches and sectional controls are working as they should.
No matter how much technology is added to the planter, it is still the operator's responsibility to verify that seed monitor and control systems are working properly. Jennings always suggests a true field check after farmers make any adjustments to the planter.
"I recommend a full 1/1000th acre field check when any settings or adjustments change," says Jennings. "The extra 15 minutes it takes to dig up those seeds is an inexpensive insurance policy."
If these tasks are performed before planting, it ensures that farmers will be ready to plant when weather permits.