After the planter has received a thorough cleaning — of all seed tubes and nooks and crannies where seed or dirt could have gotten into — and repairs and maintenance checks have been done, it’s time to calibrate the planter.
Without calibration, you run the risk of seed skips, doubles or not getting the seeds planted to the proper depth, which could mean wasted seed and money.
1Read the manual
Always review the operating manual for air pressure settings, seed disc choices, drum alternatives, and other valuable information for the appropriate seed weight. The manual will also provide transmission setting for the desired seed rate. The tag on the seed bag itself will let you know the weight of the bag and the number of seeds per pound.
Each seed-dispensing apparatus needs to be calibrated to make sure seeds are dispensing evenly. To do this, producers will need to engage all of the distribution mechanisms and run the machine through a calibration course at operational speed. Seeds can be collected in plastic bags fastened to the end of each hose and counted or weighed.
Operate the planter in an area that approximates field planting conditions. Dig up seeds and check for accuracy according to desired seed spacing. Row units must have sufficient weight to prevent gauge wheels from slipping. Planting depth should be checked periodically since soil and field conditions are subject to change.
Knowing the optimum population is critical in achieving potential yield and getting your money’s worth out of any seed hybrid. The planter’s population monitor can help, but it’s important to get on the ground and do spot checks for uniform population and seed depth.
Make sure row cleaners are not tilling the soil. They are for biomass removal and only need to function or rotate when excessive biomass is encountered.
Sufficient pressure is needed to close the furrow, but should be adjusted to soil conditions. In general, higher pressure is needed in dry soil and light pressure in wet soil to avoid over-compaction.
Gauge wheels should have enough pressure to firm the soil surface but not so much contact that the depth wheels excessively compact soil adjacent to the seed zone.
Sources: Iowa State University Extension, Golden Plains Area Extension, Purdue University Extension, Ohio State University Extension.
(Farm and Dairy is featuring a series of “101” columns throughout the year to help young and beginning farmers master farm living. From finances to management to machinery repair and animal care, farmers do it all.)
More Farming 101 columns:
- Prepare for planting season, Part 1: The Basics
- 7 tips to improve security on your farm
- 5 tips to protect your farmland
- 3 measures to deal with severe farm debt
- How to buy time to catch up on farm debt
- 6 tips to manage income on the farm
- 5 tips to recognize and deal with farm stress
- How to prepare a livestock birthing kit
- 5 tips for marketing your farm
- How to develop farm mission, vision statements
- 5 tips for setting farm goals
- 2 types of livestock insurance policies
- 6 things you need to know about WFRP plans
- 3 basics of crop insurance
- How does liability insurance work on the farm?
- Why do I need farm insurance?
- How to understand and use Ohio’s CAUV
- How to utilize the Pa. Clean and Green Act
- 9 tips for filing farm taxes
- 8 reasons record keeping for taxes is essential
- 5 tips for post-harvest storage
- 7 tips for family meetings on the farm
- 4 tips for balancing your farm and family
- 4 tips for communicating on the family farm
- 4 tips for firing an employee
- 6 tips for keeping good farm help
- 4 tips for recruiting farm labor
- 5 general farm labor laws
- 4 tips for employing minors
- 4 tips for PTO safety
- 5 things young farmers should know about finances
- The farm balance sheet
- 5 items for your farm’s cash flow statement
- Personal and business records: Keep them separate
- What to include in your farm business plan
- How to approach a lender: Tips for getting a farm loan
- How to use microloans to get your farm started
- Saving for the future: 6 tips for young farmers
- How to create a farm safety kit
- 5 tips for child safety on the farm
- 4 tips for transporting livestock
- 5 ways to better understand tractor stability
- 6 farm equipment hacks
STAY INFORMED. SIGN UP!
Up-to-date agriculture news in your inbox!