Go to our Old planter
After many years with our 2001 planter everything was starting to wear
thin and we were struggling to get our acres covered with a 16-row planter.
In the summer of 2007 we started to put together what we wanted in a new
planter. Although the planter was fairly straight forward, we spent a lot
of time looking specifically at the kinds of technology we would have on
the planter. After much spreadsheet work and information gathering we finally
decided on how to set it up. You see more of our actual decision making
Here is what the new rig looked like when we brought it home from Southwest
Implement in McCook, NE.
Lester Yoos, Chuck Felzien and Dietrich Kastens spent about 3 weeks in the
shop putting everything together on the fertilizer system. Many of the brackets
had to be fabricated in-house. Lester and Chuck did the lion's share of
the work while Dietrich focused on getting this rig wired up. Shown in this
picture are the two pumps used to deliver fertilizer. With this setup we
can Variable rate apply two products simultaneously. The system is broke
down into 5 sections. We use an AgLeader Insight for accomplishing the rate
changes on each product as well as the automatic section control.
Here is a picture from the right rear of the planter showing the pumps as
well as boom-valve shutoffs used to control the sections. Rather than traditional
orifices we are using Veri-Flow nozzles. These nozzles change the orifice
size dynamically which allow us to get around traditional orifice limitations
(a doubling of volume requires a 4x change in pressure) and is much more
accommodating to our variable application rate needs.
We are going backwards technologically in connecting equipment to tractors.
10 years ago I was hoping that by now we would be using Wifi, bluetooth
are at least some sort of network connection for tying everything together.
Nope, in fact things are probably worse today, but that is a topic for a
different discussion. To get the kinds of information passed from the planter
to the tractor cab, we drug two heavy 16-wire bundles through the frame.
All but about 3 of the total 32 wires were used.
Here are the AgLeader components necessary to communicate with the planter.
This is mounted right below the rear cab window and is composed of 4 different
Here are the same components but looking down at them.
The blended VRA fertilizer is delivered through JD Single disk openers (shown
here with the yellow gauge wheels). As can be seen, we run our planter "naked"
in that we don't use rolling coulters or trash whippers in front of the
We have a 600 gallon tank on the planter and then pull our JD Skiles row-tracker
trailer with the planter. This trailer has a 500 gallon tank and a 1300
gallon tank. Typically we use the 600 and 500 gallon tanks for 10-34-0 (which
is used to meet our P205 needs) while the 1300 gallon tank is used for 32-0-0
Everything is controlled by an AgLeader Insight controller.
Section control on the seeding side is accomplished using TruCount clutches
and are controlled by our JD GS2 system
Here you can see the GS2 (on the left) and the older GS1 systems (on the
right). The GS2 is responsible for running the Auto-Trac system, controlling
the planter sections, allowing variably rate planting, and logging all of
the as-applied data. In 2008, we still needed the GS1 to actually communicate
with the planter but that won't be necessary in 2009 so the GS1 will come
Here is my cab for the 2008 planting season. On the left are the GS2 and
GS1 controllers, on the right is the AgLeader Insight controller and then
in the center is my IBM Thinkpad X31 with a Nex-tech based cellular internet
connection. Having a laptop in the tractor with me was awesome as Dietrich
was able to get a significant amount of office work done each day as well
as had troubleshooting help and software at my fingertips when problems
arose in any of the systems.
Planting corn in wheat stubble in May 2008.
Planting corn in wheat stubble in May 2008
Here's the whole rig running in the field.
Our major breakdown in 2008!
Lester trying to figure out how to get enough weight off the axle to jack
the front up. Less damage was done than expected although we did have to
make a trip to down for a new hub for the wheel that came off and had to
have Arnie Hoxsey come out from Atwood to weld the hitch and axle back together.
2001 John Deere 1770 Max-emerge
II 16-row planter
We ran a 2001 John Deere 1770 Max-emerge II 16-row planter for about six
years. The seeding system is ground driven as well as the fertilizer system
which utilizes two piston pumps for single product delivery. Behind the
planter we pull a JD Skiles
1000 gallon notill fertilizer trailer. Most of the planter is stock, however
last year we upgraded the chain based unit drives to the more modern cable
driven system. We run a single coulter in front of the double-disks that
cuts a 1/2 inch slot. This serves to cut residue that might otherwise cause
problems such as hair-pinning in the case of wheat stubble or inconsistent
seed depth caused by corn, milo or sunflower residue. A JD single disk opener
offset in a 4x2" configuration is used to delivery fertilizer. We ran
row markers and a Starlink LB5 (now a Raven RGL 500) lightbar in 2002 and
2003. In 2004, we added an Auto-Trac system which translated into a $0.94
per planted acre savings over using markers and/or a lightbar. This has
been both a reliable and accurate notill planter for us, however we spend
a good deal of time on it every winter to make sure that it is kept in optimal
2001 JD 1770 16-row planter pulling a JD Skiles 1000 gallon tank. 1999 JD
8400 tractor is on the front with Auto-Trac. (May 2004)
Looking back from tractor cab. The water retention terraces can be seen
clearly in this photo. This style of terrace is very prominent in our area
and roughly 90% of our total acres has them. The JD 1770 planter does an
excellent job planting over the top of these terraces and maintains near
perfect seed placement on both the backsides of terraces as well as the
water channel side.
This was the view from the cab when the row markers were used in conjunction
with a Starlink LB5 lightbar which is shown mounted on the hood. Although
not pretty to look at, I always preferred hood mounted lightbars to in-cab
mounted lightbar systems.
This shows a close-up of the planter unit. On the left, one can see the
gauge wheel for the JD single disk opener fertilizer unit while on the left
the unit gag wheels are shown. In the middle, we can see an original 16-wave
coulter that would cut a 3/4" slot for the double-disks. In 2005 we
moved to a 24 wave coulter that cuts a 1/2" slot and many times we
just take the coulters off (especially if the ground is soft or muddy).
Close up view of the JD single disk fertilizer openers
This is what the field looks like after planting into 70 bu/ac
wheat stubble. (May 2006)
This is what the field looks like after planting into 70 bu/ac stripper
cut wheat stubble. The stripper
stubble will possible cause us to rethink our planter setup in the
future as the volume of surface residue is vastly greater than that of straight
cut stubble. (May 2006)
Another picture of corn planted into about 70 bu/ac stripper
cut wheat stubble. (May 2006)