The time for big repair and upgrade projects was during the winter. By now, I hope you are ready for the finishing checks and touches to ensure your seeder can hit the ground running and get the seed in the soil on a timely basis. Recently on my blog, RealAgriculture.com,we started a feature called canola school. In the first segment, Matt Stanford of the Canola Council of Canada and I talked about how to prepare your seeder for the spring. The following is a summary of the video discussion that we had.
CHECK ALL MANIFOLDS AND THE DISTRIBUTION SYSTEM
You want to make sure there is no build up of materials from the prior season. Any sort of build up will really prevent you from being able to apply the proper seeding rate. Through the season, check the runs regularly for plugging as this may also cause eyesores for you when there are misses throughout the field. I know of several farmers who check the runs almost every time they fill the drill.
CHECK THE OPENERS
Check for excessive wear on each opener to ensure they are contacting the soil in an ideal manner. Measure the wear of the openers in relation to the original specifications. Checking with your opener manufacturer would be a great idea to get their recommendation on replacement tolerances. If your drill has disk openers, having extreme opener wear can cause hair pinning, which does not provide good seed to soil contact and placement. Shank style openers also need to be within wear tolerances in order to keep the appropriate fertilizer shelf. In the case of canola, it is important to have one and half inches of separation between nitrogen and the seed. If the nitrogen is placed too close to the canola seed, you may see excessive burning of the seedling as it emerges.
CHECK ALL HOSES AND SEALS
Hoses and seals can become cracked or damaged through the course of the year. Many times the beating hot sun and general wear and tear can have create leaks for air or for seed to escape. An air flow leak is going to cause issues with your ability to get proper seed distribution to all openers. For example, a famous mistake is not properly securing the air cart top hatch. Both hoses and seals can break down and they may not be noticeable at first sight. It is best to take a close look and ensure everything is intact and the flow of air through the machine is secure.
CHECK ALL THE PIVOT PINS
If the pivot pins on your air drill wings are worn and loose, the wings may not fold up completely or fold down completely. This may compromise your transport ability, and it can also throw the drill off level. The result is a seeding disaster. It is advisable that you follow the standard greasing recommendations set out by the manufacturer. The greasing hour suggestions are there so that your drill will have a long life and not break down structurally over time due to negligence.
MAKE SURE THE DRILL IS LEVEL
A drill that is level side to side and front to back is essential for even seed placement. Find a level piece of ground — a cement pad if possible — to park your seeder. Wing the machine down and measure the distance from opener to ground across the drill. If the distance measured is not consistent across the drill, a re-leveling must be completed. Check your manual for leveling tips. Important: you cannot assume that a new drill is level when delivered from the factory and dealership. I know of a couple friends who were told their new seeder was leveled and after seeding for a day they realized there was an issue. The result was an angry farmer and a nice pattern throughout the field after seedling emergence.
CHECK THE TIRE PRESSURE
Having all tires at the same pressure is another step in proper leveling. Checking all tires can also help to prevent an in-field flat. There is nothing worse than getting a seeder out to the field and then discovering you have a leaky tire that needs to be changed. Proper tire inflation is integral to ensuring a level drill and proper seed placement.
USE THE RIGHT METERING ROLLER
Match the right roller to the crop you are seeding. A great way to have a seeding disaster is to try and use the wrong roller. In talking to many farmers, this is something that happens if you are in too big of a rush or as seeding is getting closer to the end and mental exhaustion is setting in.
It is impossible to achieve the yield you want if you do not have your seeder prepared properly before you even enter the first field. Preparation equals success and this is even true in farming. Many of the tips provided in here are simple but can be forgotten at times if you do not take the time to thoroughly go through your machine. Whether the seeder is new or old most of these steps listed above will help ensure that you have a successful seeding season. If you want more information on seeder maintenance, contact your manufacturer and get a list of their best management practices for the specific machine you own.
Shaun Haney publishes the Haney Farms Quarterly and his blog, which can be found at www.realagriculture.com.Haney Farms is located in Picture Butte, Alta., and is involved in the grain, seed and beef business. You can contact Shaun at 1-877-738-4517 or [email protected]