Precision Planting has a new goal.
Up to this point, Gregg Sauder, the founder of Precision Planting continually obsessed about perfect seed placement, every time. Sauder's new passion is planting fast – with perfect seed placement, of course.
How fast is "fast?" Sauder says 10 miles per hour will be possible in the coming years. The increased speed will have a huge effect on productivity. Just before Sauder took the stage at Precision's Farming With Speed Winter Conference in Washington, he started a simulation that looked at the difference in planting at 5 mph vs 10 mph. As expected, by the end of the day, the planter running at 10 mph had planted about double the acreage of the normal-speed planter.
At the Winter Conference, Precision Planting unveiled their new Speed-Tube. This redesigned seed tube was the breakthrough needed to enable 10 mph planting speeds, while still retaining accuracy.
Moving that fast, Jason Stoller, planter controls and hydraulic system lead, explains anything that falls from the planter is also moving that fast. Therefore, in tests, seed dropped from a regular seed tube would skip along the ground before finally coming to a stop.
To mitigate the problem, the seed must be released at a speed that's equal to the planter, but in the opposite direction. In other words, it needs to be shot out the tube backwards to cancel out the planter's speed. The Speed-Tube does exactly that.
At first glance, it looks like a miniature grain elevator, which it sort of is. The tube encloses a belt with flights for individual seeds, which are picked off the vacuum plates with two wheels. In action, the "elevator buckets" (or seed slots) release the seed in the opposite direction of the planter, matching its speed in the process. The result is a seed that falls directly to the ground, without bouncing or skipping.
Of course, simply attaching Speed-Tubes to the planter won't necessarily allow for 10 mph planting speeds.
Sean Arians, Precision Planting's marketing manager, notes several other prerequisites must be met. First off, the tractor must have adequate horsepower.
Tillage also becomes more important than ever. The subsoil density needs to be uniform. Make sure the ripper shanks are set properly.
A smooth, consistent surface is also necessary. Arians recommends running the spring tillage implement at the same angle as the planter to alleviate any unnecessary bumps.
Also, for those applying starter fertilizer at planting, make sure the pump can handle 10 mph. Make sure free-floating row cleaners are installed. Arians says studies have shown a 10 bushel advantage with free-floating over fixed row cleaners.
Lastly, Arians says Precision Planting performed tests to determine the best closing wheel setup for running at high speeds. They recommend cast-iron closing wheels as the best option.