Farmers have always been known for their self-reliance. If a piece of equipment is broken, they don't replace it, they fix it themselves. Some, like David Holthaus, who farms near Baileyville in northeast Kansas, take it a step further and improve new and proven machinery. "When I was younger, my dad did a lot of metal fabrication in the shop, which helped a lot," he says. "I like working with metal and we're always fabricating something, whether it's planters or just tinkering."
If his John Deere color-coded shop doesn't show he has a passion for fabrication and tinkering, his two, three and four-row planters he built himself do. Holthaus sells about 50 planters a year. He's been building them since 2000, but recently, a new project has given way: adding to the John Deere 2510H anhydrous ammonia applicator.
Holthaus has done custom application for a local co-op since 2003. Until three years ago, he used a knife machine before switching to the 2510H, he says. The 2510H's disc openers run at an even depth, which pays off on highly-erodible ground. "It's a high-speed, low-disturbance opener," he says. "You about have to have a disc opener to get that kind of evenness and low disturbance, which is what a lot of no-till guys want, especially on rolling terrain." He says this model is unique in this regard. "John Deere is the only one I know of that sells a disc opener with a bar."
In this region of Kansas, most fertilizer is put on in the fall. However, the 2510H is also useful in spring. "With the disc opener, it does a lot better job in the spring than a knife," he says. "You don't have those air pockets underneath the soil that a knife will leave sometimes."
Improving a proven piece of equipment
But there was something missing. "I knew the 2510H was proven," he says. "It just wasn't capable of dual-placement." So, he added a cart to include dry fertilizer with a Montag tank. An authorized Montag dealer, Holthaus has used the cart for custom dual-placement on over 7,000 acres in the past three years. Now, he can combine the benefits of the 2510H with dual-placement of dry fertilizer and anhydrous for his own 2510DH. "Basically, we're just adding to it," he says. "There is really no modification to the bar itself."