Tips for planter and air seeder maintenance

Seeder boots need good soles too — check for wear and replace if more than half an inch is burned off the bottom

Producers in Manitoba are doing a good job making sure their equipment is in field-ready condition, according to Les Bobyk, a territory customer support manager for John Deere based in Regina, Sask. But everyone benefits from paying close attention to detail when it comes to planter and air seeder maintenance.

During a presentation at North Star Genetics’ annual soybean grower information day March 27 in Morris, Bobyk focused on maintenance for 90-series single-disc openers, and offered tips specific to planting soybean seed. However, Bobyk said that for the most part, the same rules apply regardless of the seed growers are working with.

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“From a maintenance side on the drill, the producer wants to make sure that the opener disc and seed boot are within spec, as they are doing the important job of opening the furrow, and placing the seed,” said Bobyk. “These items are making sure that the opener discs and boots are not excessively worn, and with no-till disc machines, making sure that the bearings are in good condition.”

Bobyk said that if more than half an inch is burned off the bottom of the boot, it should be replaced. “Pull out the measuring tape: if the overall height of the boot is less than 11.3 inches, look into replacing that boot.”

When producers are evaluating downforce calibration in preparation for seeding, they should ensure the seed boot runs parallel to the ground. “With too much downforce, the seed boot will be pushed deeper into the trench, causing it not to run parallel to the ground,” said Bobyk. “In this condition, it will wear the trailing end of the opener. Too little and it lifts up and wears the leading edge.”

Keeping an eye on the condition of discs, gauge wheels and closing systems is important for both air drills and planters, according to Bobyk. “A main difference between the two machines would be the condition of the metering rolls for an air drill, versus the meter discs for a row-crop planter,” he said.

Metering rolls should be checked regularly to ensure they are turning freely. In air seeders, meter housing should be clean and free of any foreign material. Meter calibrations should be performed prior to seeding and redone after seeding a few acres, and metering rates verified with in-field checks.

Other maintenance priorities include checking the condition of the air delivery system, making sure that the air system fan is operating up to the required speed, and making sure that there are no air leaks in the product tanks or delivery hoses.

“A couple of items that are sometimes overlooked are the condition of the air system and tank pressurization system,” said Bobyk. “A hole in one of the primary hoses can cause a pressure imbalance which can cause overapplication of product. Also, inspection of the tank pressurization system on an air drill is very important, as tank pressurization is critical for accurate product metering. Inspect the system to make sure that there is no foreign material in the system that could block off the pressurizing airflow.”

Openers should be in good condition, as worn opener discs on air disc drills and planters can have an impact on opener performance and seed placement.

In the drive system, drive chains, hydraulic motors and transmissions should be checked to ensure they are operating smoothly. Additionally, monitoring systems should be properly configured for each machine.

Finally, Bobyk said, “When you’re done planting with the row-crop planter for the season, remove all discs, pound a nail in the shed and hang the discs to keep them in the best condition.”

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