John Deere’s high speed planter upgrade designed for speed

Changes to the MaxEmerge and ExactEmerge will allow growers to seed at speeds up to 10 m.p.h.

MOLINE, Ill. — The MaxEmerge 5e and ExactEmerge planters are John Deere’s answer to the European Maestro and Tempo high-speed corn planters. Upgrades to both JD planters were revealed this month in Moline.

“There’s a lot of interest in high-speed planters. There’s a lot of interest in hitting your planting window, and rightfully so,” said Deere seeding specialist Ryan Hough.

“Some of our customers are putting down 70 acres per hour. When you’re running 10 m.p.h. with a planter, you need a whole new set of technologies. Look at the wet planting conditions we’ve had recently and you can see that going fast is important.

“There’s guys with traditional planters who’ve hit eight m.p.h., maybe 10 m.p.h., but they’re sacrificing accuracy. We have some video of guys hitting 13 and 14 m.p.h. with our high-speed planters. I don’t think that’s comfortable. I don’t think you get accuracy at that speed.”

Hough said some farmers want to cover more acres with big wide planters driving at a relatively slower speed, while others have started thinking it’s better to run fast in order to get it done. Right now, he says it still looks like a balancing act. Either way, you can’t sacrifice seed placement. You have to maintain your accuracy.

Hough said Deere has a distinct advantage over many high-speed planters on the market: the use of the brush belt seed delivery device. The brush belt provides total control of each seed from the meter right down to the bottom of the seed trench.

“In the past, you had gravity dropping the seed about two feet down the pipe, so you had a lot of seed bounce,” he said.

“With the brush system, there’s no air pressure behind the seed and no gravity involved, so there’s no bounce or shake or rattle or roll. The seed is firmly held in place by the bristles on the brush belt. The belt turns until the seed nearly touches the soil. At that point, the belt is making a tight corner around the bottom pulley, so the bristles open up and lay the seed in the trench.

“There’s a mechanism that matches the belt rotation to your ground speed. If you stop for any reason, the belt stops and the seed stays in the brush. When you start up again, spacing between seeds remains at whatever distance you have set it for. If you slow down or speed up, the brush belt always matches your ground speed. You always have consistent spacing. Machine bounce doesn’t affect placement either.”

Up at the top of each row unit, one electric drive motor spins the metering bowl, which serves the same purpose as a metering disc in selecting one seed at a time. Another electric motor drives the brush belt.

Hough said two independent motors are required to control plant population regardless of ground speed.

“Going 10 m.p.h. puts a lot of stress on the frame and row unit, so these new components are built extra strong, whether you buy a brand new planter or a retrofit kit going all the way back to 2011.”

Row unit down force is provided by hydraulics. A sensor on each row unit determines if the correct amount of pressure is being applied, and adjustments are made automatically to maintain the depth dialed in by the operator.

Air bags are still available, but Hough said most buyers opt for hydraulics. Pneumatic down force is used on the row cleaners and closing wheels.

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