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Achieving Photocopy Plants: Uniform Planting Depth

Zero-index row units help ensure that seeds are planted uniformly across the planter and field.
Zero-index row units help ensure that seeds are planted uniformly across the planter and field.

This post continues our Be Ready blog series on achieving photocopy plants. Bill Hoeg, Case IH Planter Marketing Manager, shares the following insights on uniform planting depth.

One of the primary agronomic drivers of achieving photocopy plants is uniformly correct seed depth across the planter and throughout the field. Planters must be able to precisely place the seed in widely varying residue and soil types over hundreds of acres each day.

The Case IH Early Riser® 5 series planters are equipped with agronomic features designed to eliminate barriers that keep seeds from dropping to the same depth in the seed trench: Magnum 240 CVT 1235 Planter 0513 AMSM A 1069 mr low res 228x152 Achieving Photocopy Plants: Uniform Planting Depth

  • Equalizing pulled gauge wheels with a soil storage groove minimize row unit bounce and stabilize it during planting, even at higher speeds. If the planter row unit is bouncing or hopping, seed depth is definitely affected and seed spacing can be affected. Seed depth and spacing impact emergence and producers’ ability to obtain a photocopy plant stand. This also influences speed, resulting in lowering your productivity and bottom line.
  • The furrow-forming point eliminates loose bulk soil left in the seed trench caused by the opener disk, so seeds can drop uniformly to the bottom of the trench, making contact with soil that is similar in density to the soil undisturbed by the opening disk.
  • Narrow leading edge off-set disk openers slice through soil and residue while creating a narrow seed trench and working with the gauge wheels’ soil retention groove to create one of the softest seed trench walls in the industry. The narrow cut is like using a sharp steak knife versus a dull butter knife, so that as soil conditions or speed changes, the opening disk can penetrate to the desired depth without being influenced by other factors.
  • The last soil out of the trench is stored in the gauge wheel groove. The inverted closing disk then slides that soil back over the seed and zips the seed trench from the bottom up to optimize seed-to-soil contact and soil density around the seed. This results in consistent soil temperatures and uniform access to moisture. At the same time, this prevents movement of the seed in the trench.

View this video to see some of these features up-close.

AG Misc 34401 228x307 Achieving Photocopy Plants: Uniform Planting DepthThe best way to ensure uniform depth is to check the opening disk, furrow-firming points and closing disc dimensions prior to planting season to assure that they are at optimum operating performance. Zero-indexing your Early Riser row unit each year before hitting the field should be done only after any repairs have been made.

If you have a conventional row unit (pushed gauge wheel and pinch wheel closing system), you will find approximately 25 to 35 percent of your rows will not be planting at the same depth when set at the same depth setting. You can’t zero-index a conventional row unit, but you can index it so that you will know the required depth setting to make that specific row plant to a similar depth as the row beside it.

You also need to re-index the rows after each row unit repair. If using a conventional row unit, you may want to use some additional devices to deal with the bulk soil at the bottom of the trench with the caveat that you are “closing the barn door after the horse has already left the barn.” Added trench devices have a tendency to fishtail through the trench and are inconsistent in pushing seeds down or side to side when dealing with the bulk soil in the bottom of the trench. The Early Riser’s furrow-forming point eliminates that bulk soil before the seed arrives, allowing for more uniform death.

Finally, row unit down pressure is important for proper depth. As you experience tougher soils or pick up speed, additional down pressure is needed. On a conventional row unit, down pressure on the pinch wheel closing system is important and sensitive. Too much will move the seed, changing its depth, and not enough won’t give good seed-to-soil contact.

Closing disc pressure is adjustable, if necessary, but is not sensitive to changing conditions. Lighter or fluffy soils should have less down pressure and increase down pressure in heavier or stickier soils.

Find out more:
To learn more about agronomic considerations at planting and photocopy plants, click here to request a new Agronomic Design Insights report on seed placement accuracy.

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