The first step in growing a profitable crop is getting a good plant stand established. There’s nothing worse than a poorly seeded crop, so it’s worth the time to make sure that equipment is ready to perform when it’s time to seed.
Things to check before going to the field to seed:
If the wings of the air drill have been left in the raised position over winter, take a few minutes before lowering the wings. Make absolutely sure there is oil in both sides of the wing lift hydraulic rams. If the locking pins are removed and the wing is pushed over centre, but there is no oil in the other side of the ram which must now take up the load, the wing will drop unrestricted causing devastating damage to the machine.
A low tire on the drill can cause depth control issues. The tires on the air cart control metering so the air pressure should be exact.
Park the drill on a flat surface and check adjustments to obtain equal planting depth across the entire drill.
Worn openers will not provide accurate placement of the seed for consistent emergence, or safe separation from fertilizer in a double shoot system. Pay particular attention to openers that seed in any wheel tracks left by the tractor, air cart, or drill as these are the first to wear.
Hoses and manifolds
Check all hoses and manifolds for any obstructions. Mouse nests and other debris can restrict airflow and cause plugging problems on the first day of seeding.
Check all air hoses and hydraulic lines for excessive wear and damage and ensure all connections are secure.
Ensure all packers are correctly aligned with the openers – for consistent emergence within the seed furrows. Do a complete inspection of the air cart according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Take the time to check the seals around the lids of the air tank. Run some product through the drill and check for even distribution of seed and fertilizer.
Once in the field, be sure to check seeding depth several times — keeping in mind that actual depth may change from the headlands to less-travelled areas of the field.
Further evaluation of seeding performance is really only possible after the crop emerges. This is when everything from uneven depth control to faulty product distribution may become evident. Noting the direction of seeding at the start of each field, makes it possible after crop emergence to correlate individual seed row problems to the opener, hose or manifold responsible.
To accurately assess any seeding equipment performance, seeding rates should be calculated based on a desired plant density for each crop.
The calculation for Seeding Rate (lbs./acre desired stand (plants/ft.2) x thousand seed weight (grams) x 10.41 germination (%) – seed mortality (%).