Are you ready for planting? We have 5 crucial tips for your preseason planter setup so you can hit the ground running.
A successful harvest starts with getting your seed in the ground. While planting has come a long way with the help of new implements and technology, farmers still have important decisions to make. Properly prepping your equipment before the planting window opens can get your season off to a smooth start.
It’s important to give every piece of equipment a thorough inspection before hitting the field — this includes tractors, tillage equipment, planters, you name it. Long months of sitting idle, especially when it comes with extreme temperature fluctuations, can result in minor maintenance concerns. Make sure all your machines are field-ready based on the specs in their operations manuals.
Additionally, here are five planter-specific tips to make sure you’re sowing the seeds of success this spring.
1. Shim opener discs.
Opener discs create the ideal environment for each seed, so making sure they are shimmed correctly will ensure a good start to your season. A V-shaped trench provides proper seed-to-soil contact. But if your opener discs are off, you could end up with W-shaped trench. This leaves air pockets around your seed and negatively impacts emergence.
There should be contact between your left and right opener disc toward the front of the row unit between 1 ¾ to 2 ¼ inches. To verify, put the business card between the opener discs at the top of the row unit and move down until it makes contact and can’t move anymore. Then repeat the process moving from the backside of the row unit. Measure the distance between the two and make sure it is within spec according to your operator’s manual.
2. Calibrate depth and set gauge wheel clearance.
The opener discs on our Massey Ferguson® VE Series planter, like other models, are made from durable boron steel alloy. However, hour after hour, round after round of contact with soil, rocks and crop residue takes its toll. This wear can create a slight difference between your depth setting and actual opener disc depth. Before heading to the field, it’s important to inspect each row unit for wear.
To ensure the values you input into the monitor are the values you see in the ground, take time to calibrate before planting starts. On a hard, flat surface, such as a shop floor or concrete pad, put a board under your gauge wheels that corresponds to your planting depth. For example, our field studies have suggested a 2-inch planting depth for corn in most situations. Adjust the castle nut on the back of your depth control handle until the side-to-side movement in the depth control assembly is eliminated.
Your gauge wheels should be touching your opener discs or have a gap of no more than 1/16 inch. A larger gap allows dry dirt into your seed trench, sacrificing valuable moisture.
3. Make sure parallel arm bushings are tight.
Other high-wear areas to pay attention to are your parallel arms. As you worked last season, these arms traveled up and down frequently. It’s important to check bushings are still in good condition, tightening and replacing when necessary. If not, you could see side-to-side motion in your row units, which will affect your DeltaForce™ performance and row spacing.
It’s worth noting that the 2022 season presents farmers with some unique challenges in terms of in-season parts and maintenance needs. Work with your local AGCO dealer to ensure you have a stock of all necessary components to keep you in the field and out of the shop this season.
4. Properly align closing wheels.
Now you’ve created an ideal seedbed and placed your seed, it’s important to close the trench for optimal seed-to-soil contact. Make sure your closing wheels are centered over your seed trench. If you notice a left or right variance, you could end up with a closing wheel in your seed trench instead, which would leave your seeds exposed.
5. Export last year’s data and update precision planting monitor software.
While you were in the field last season, planter manufacturers were hard at work improving their equipment. Before you hit the field in 2022, make sure you have exported all 2021 data, allowing you to start with a clean slate. You should also download any current season updates. Not all systems will prompt you to do this, so it’s just a good habit to check with your manufacturer for updates, including feature and usability enhancements, at the start of every season.
Sowing the Seeds of Success in 2022
Making the most of planting windows is the first step to a successful harvest. The Massey Ferguson VE Series planter is part of a long tradition of straightforward, dependable planting. A perfect blend of technology and farmer-friendly ease of use so you can make the most of your time and get your best yields.
Contact your local dealer to learn more about the MF VE Series planter and our full line of precision planting solutions.