How to Choose the Best Planter for Your Farming Needs
In 1935, there were 7 million farms in the U.S. Now there are only about 2 million. But farms still play a huge role in America, contributing more than $100 billion to the economy.
Are you one of these farmers?
A planter is a key piece of equipment for your farm. Planting windows are only so long and the entire productivity of your farm is based on how effectively you can plant the seeds.
Unfortunately, too many farmers get caught up in all the bells and whistles when they go to pick out their new planter. They end up buying a planter that, while it may be an excellent machine, is not adequate for their needs.
To avoid this happening to you, read on to learn about the various factors you should consider when choosing a new planter.
Consider Your Farm Size
The first thing you should consider when choosing your planter is the size of your farm. Planters come in a variety of sizes (and at a variety of price points), so you need to think about what will be adequate for your needs.
If you have several thousand acres that you need to plant, a Kinze 4700 capable of planting 36 rows in one fell swoop is a great time-saver. Of course, it will save time even if you only have a few acres to plant, but it may be overkill for your operation (and your budget). Just imagine maneuvering that thing in a small field!
So how do you know which size to choose? Let’s look at corn, for example. You typically have a 10-day window for planting corn and you can assume that one row on your planter can generally handle 100 acres in that 10 days. That means that a 16-row planter can handle 1,600 acres of corn.
Consider What You Grow
Not all seeds are the same size and not all plants need the same amount of space to grow. The planter you choose needs to be able to handle the size that fits your needs.
For example, if you primarily plant corn, the Kinze 4900 is a great option. It plants 30-inch rows and its state-of-the-art technology makes it accurate and highly productive. You can choose from 12, 16, or 24-row configurations depending on the size of your farm.
In general, 30-inch rows are a good spacing for most plants and this is the most common size planter available.
However, if you grow crops that need more space this planter could be limiting. Instead, you may want to consider something like the Kinze 3110 which you can get in 6 or 8-row configurations that are adjustable between 36″ and 40″ rows.
Additionally, some types of plants don’t need as much space and you can make your field more productive by reducing the row spacing. For that, you may want to check out the Kinze 4700 which plants 36 rows, 20 inches apart.
Consider Your Planting Strategy
Are you planting the same seeds in your entire field? A bulk-fill seed delivery system is a great choice. You’ll save time during planting because you throw all the seeds into the bulk-fill hopper and away you go. The machine handles moving the seeds out to the extremities.
But what if you need to segregate your seeds? This can happen when you want to split plant plots or hybrids — among other reasons.
In this case, you’ll want to choose a planter with individual hoppers. It will take you longer to fill the planter, but you can control which type of seeds goes in each row.
Regardless of which delivery method you choose, pay attention to the hopper capacity. The smaller the hopper, the more often you’ll have to stop to refill, slowing down your planting operation.
Consider Time-Saving Extras for Your Planter
Everybody has the same planting window, but not every farmer plants the same number of plants. Some farmers need to plant a few thousand acres during the planting window while others only need to plant less than a hundred.
For smaller operations, it’s easy to make a few passes over the field to handle fertilizing, irrigation, and the like. But larger operations don’t have time. That’s where simultaneous fertilizing and accuracy-increasing innovations, among other things, come in handy.
Of course, these extras come at a price. You’ll need to balance the cost of these extras against how much you’ll save in time and labor. Then you can decide whether these extras are worth the money for your operation.
Consider Weight Distribution
When choosing a planter, particularly the bigger, heavier ones, check out its weight distribution system. If the majority of the weight is on the center tires, the seed in the middle rows won’t grow as well. Yield checks can do down by as much as 60-bu. between the middle and wing sections of the planter.
Choose a planter with a hydraulic weight transfer system. Or at the least, one with flotation tires to help spread out the weight.
Consider the Meter
There are a few different types of meters that you can choose in a planter. These include the brush, mechanical finger, and vacuum types. You’ll want to choose the type depending on what type of seeds you plant.
For example, a vacuum type can be good when you’re planting a variety of size seeds. This will help increase the likelihood that all the seeds end up where they should go on the first pass.
Regardless of which type you choose, it should have a 98.5% seed singulation rate or higher. Have your meter calibrated by an expert to ensure the most efficient function every year.
The Best Planter for Your Operation
Choosing a planter is key to the productivity and success of your farming operation. There is no one-size-fits-all option when it comes to this piece of farming equipment.
We hope this article has given you an idea of what to look for. If you need more help choosing the right planter for you, feel free to contact us with questions!