Planter calibration critical to seeding ROI

The Meter Max Ultra Test Stand calibrates any brand or type of meter.  It drives the meter at the same speed and population the grower dials in. The test consists of a 1,000 seed drop keeping track of skips, doubles and miss-placed seeds. It applies an appropriate value to each seed dropped off target. The results are displayed on the 20/20 SeedSense screen and a printable report is generated.  | CaseIH photo

Research during the past two decades tells corn growers that seed spacing, seed singulation and seed placement are critical factors in extracting top returns on that big input investment.

The most important task in any cropping system is to place the seed at the correct spot for the conditions. This task is especially important when high seed prices and big fertilizer dollars are at stake. And you only have one chance to get the spacing right.

For corn growers, it means having each row unit operating at maximum accuracy. If the meter is out of calibration, seed spacing will be out of whack and your crop could suffer from inconsistent height and stage development. The key is diligent meter calibration.

Modern seed meters are designed to run at 98 percent accuracy or better. However, many only deliver 92 to 97 percent accuracy, according to Chris Ehman, manager of precision solutions and telematics for Case.

“Those numbers come from the Pontiac Field Study conducted by Precision Planting. The study shows that for every one percent gain in meter accuracy, you gain one to two bushels yield. That adds up if you’re looking at five or six dollars per bushel,” he said.

Ehman says meters should be calibrated every year to keep them in that 98 percent accuracy range. Annual calibration finds worn parts that cannot be compensated for by simple tuning of each row unit.

Ehman says 98 percent accuracy might seem a minor benefit compared to 92 percent, but it can have a big impact on yield. He recommends corn growers have meters calibrated with a Precision Planting MeterMax available at a Case Premier Certified Dealer. Their MeterMax can provide a variety of testing applications:

  • population
  • test run log
  • vacuum
  • singulation
  • seed information
  • seed release index
  • loss per acre

He says the process tailors meters to a planter’s seeds, speed, spacing and population. It’s winter. Ehman says it’s the perfect time to take your seeds and meters to a Case dealer to put your planter right on target.

“Even if everything else is perfect the rest of the year, you’re not getting top production if planting isn’t perfect. You make the same investment in seed and fertilizer whether you do a sloppy planting job or a pristine job. For the small cost of calibrating, it doesn’t pay to skip.”

Abe Penner, general manager at LMS Ag Equipment in Morden, Man., says they provide the MeterMax calibration service either in-house or even at the customers yard in some cases.

“This test station is key in getting your row units right. It runs a virtual seed count and a virtual field application. We have adapters to calibrate any brand of meter: Kinzey, White, Deere, Case or any other brand.

“We charge $35 per row unit, which seems like a small price considering how much seed can be wasted in just one run down the field. Plus, it’s a mobile unit. We take it to the farm.”

For years, Precision Planting built parts for Case planters. They weren’t exactly like Precision parts, but they were similar. But now Precision Planting is owned by Agco.

A used Precision Planting Meter Max Plus Test Stand recently sold for US$1,850 at a dealer in Michigan.

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