Preparing for Spring Planting

Mar 01, 2021

Spring — and planting season — is around the corner. Now is the time to perform some maintenance on equipment and prepare a data collection plan.
GreenPoint Ag Regional Manager of Ag Technologies Trey Colley says this preparation will limit down time and increase the likelihood that your seeds will thrive.
“A properly calibrated planter will improve seed spacing accuracy, which will reduce seed competition and ensure proper seeding depth,” Colley says. “You want to give the seed the best environment possible, and making sure your planter is accurate will go a long way to achieving this goal.”
Colley says there are six main areas to check and calibrate to ensure seeds are delivered accurately and efficiently.
1. Do a quick visual inspection of the entire machine. Is the planter bar leveled properly? Do all moving parts appear to be in good condition and working as they should?
2. Calibrate meters. Begin by taking meter units apart and cleaning with soap and water. Replace worn seed brushes and check the condition of belts.
3. Meters can be taken to dealer to be calibrated annually.
4. Inspect hydraulic lines for cracks.
5. Evaluate the condition of seed tubes for proper drop when planting. Burrs and cracks can cause irregularity in seed transport to the ground.
6. Inspect the contact point of disk openers. Are the coulters, disk openers, and closing wheels aligned?
Colley also suggests planning for data collection.
“Collecting data on your farm can ensure you are giving your crops the right amount of nutrients and that your seeds are planted in the correct places with limited competition,” he says. “Having this information will help you make your operation as profitable as possible.”
The first time you collect data from planting can seem challenging, but Colley says the steps are “fairly simple” and your Co-op agronomist or GreenPoint Ag Ag Technology Specialists (ATS) are available to help. Consider these points as you develop a plan.
1. AB Line Management
AB Line Management helps you deter- mine where your crop lines will sit in the field. Whatever manufacturer you use for your in-cab screens, GreenPoint Ag has the technology to help you manage and plant on your desired lines.
2. Calibrating GPS
This is critical for accurate planting with auto-steer. Take a few minutes to calibrate your auto steer module and wheel sensors before your planter hits the field. Using GPS in your data collection will help you see your meter performance and an overall view of the field. Using AccuField, Incompass, MyJohnDeere, or Climate FieldView, you can view your planting maps from the cab of the tractor and troubleshoot in real time.
Colley recommends using a Terrain Compensation Model for farmers with rolling fields or steeper slopes to ensure accuracy.
3. As-Planted Data Quality
Creating maps of your fields allows you and your agronomist, or GreenPoint Ag ATS to evaluate planter performance, geo-referenced hybrid maps, and yields by varieties at the end of the year.
Proper GPS offsets for the planter ensures quality as-planted data collection and also reduces the risk of seeding overlap or gaps.
Section control setup is important to overall seed savings. In odd shaped fields, section control saves seed costs by reducing overlap. Colley says the typical farm with irregular field shapes sees seed savings of 3 - 5 percent, and many farmers are able to pay off their investment in just a couple of planting seasons.
4. Variable-rate Planting Prescriptions
Colley explains each area of the state has a different need when it comes to variable-rate planting prescriptions. He recommends working with your local Co-op agronomist to develop a variable-rate seeding map. If you do plan to use them, make sure you use the proper formats for your planter and consult with your local ATS for a planting prescription that fits the field.
“All of these steps are important,” says Colley. “We can help the grower to customize and implement these plans into their field.”
Implementing data collection with your yearly planting routine may seem like a chore, but it is proven to increase efficiency and overall profits. Colley says the main importance is for record keeping and farm evaluation.
“You can easily see how your equipment is performing, how your crop management practices are working, and it starts to paint a picture of your operation that may not be easily apparent otherwise,” says Colley. “Good data management really shows a full picture of the farm as a whole. Then you can collect layers, piece them together, and see your farm in a new light; you can make more informed management decisions.”
If you are interested in starting to collect data on your farm this spring, talk to your local Co-op agronomist or GreenPoint Ag ATS. The first steps should be mapping fields and soil testing. Don’t forget that you are not alone as you begin this journey to improve your farm.
“GreenPoint Ag has technology available for customers of all sizes,"” says Colley. “We want to help them better understand their fields and help them be as profitable as possible."

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