Row-shut off Popular Feature on Planters

Other features also help fine-tune planting to conditions.

Published on: May 6, 2010
Only out for a couple of seasons, row-shut offs that prevent each row form planting an area already planted are becoming popular. Why? As one farmer puts it, because it's a technology with a quick payback. Especially if you're working fields with lots of point rows and waterways, it doesn't take long to recover the cost of the investment.

Deere was one of the first to offer the feature. It's also available on other models.

Here are other features you may want to consider in a new planter if you're making the switch.

Starter fertilizer tanks- the debate still rages. One farmer who bought a new planter this year says he wanted tanks but his son didn't so they didn't get them. Now he's wondering out how to get enough nitrogen on for his no-till corn. So far, he's doing it by applying some nitrogen as carrier with herbicides.

Others claim they don't want the extra weight on there, and are going away from starter tanks. You can typically order a planter with or without tanks.

With or without splitter units- If you're only going to plant corn with a planter and you know it, Barry Fisher suggests not handing the extra splitter units on it. He likes to see a corn planter only with corn row units on it. It's all a matter of not putting more weight on the soil and creating more soil compaction than necessary, says Fisher, state agronomist in Indiana for the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

With or without row cleaners- Now the choice is even more complicated than that. Some companies offer automatic control on row cleaners that control the force applied. Typically, most crops consultants recommend running row cleaners as shallow as possible, just so they remove residue off the rows.

With automatic adjustable downforce pressure- If you want to adjust downforce on the planter row units as conditions within the field change, it's now possible. Precision Planting, for one, introduced the Air Force system a year ago. It automatically controls downforce on each row unit.

Choice of closing wheels- We still hear of farmers ordering planters with everything from two rubber closing wheels at eh rear of the unit to two cast-iron closing wheels at the rear of the unit. In the middle are those using spading wheels. One popular option right now is one spading wheel with one rubber-tired closing wheel running behind ach row.