Step one is to figure out the unit you want. Then when you find one, give it a close inspection.

Check right into the corners of the frame near the pull points of the hitch. Sometimes stress fractures may be found in these locations.

-ROB FAGNOU, BOURGAULT

Finding new equipment these days to fill a gap in your farm fleet is like trying to snap a picture of a sasquatch. A lot of guys are trying, but many are coming up empty handed. Looking for good used equipment may increase the odds of finding exactly what you need.

When it comes to air seeders, many manufacturers report that their next year’s production is already sold out. Buying used may be the only alternative. Although used air seeders are in strong demand, just like new ones, each sale of a new one means there is a trade-in about to hit the market.

However after last season, dealers and farmers have learned not to surrender a trade in until the replacement with shiny new paint arrives. So there are, no doubt, many air seeders sitting in farmyards due to hit the used equipment market before next spring. Waiting until they arrive on a dealer’s lot may be too late, though, so talk to your favourite salesmen right away if you’re in the market for one.

choosinG The one For yoU

If you’re moving up to air seeder technology for the first time or if you’re considering a different type, how do you decide which one is right for your needs? Rob Fagnou of Bourgault Industries in St. Brieux, Sask., recommends doing some homework before making that decision. “Do you need to improve productivity, increase yield averages, move into a direct seeding practice, etc?” he says. “This may sound a little facetious at first, but it is amazing how many producers do not give this aspect enough consideration when buying equipment,”

If you are considering the purchase of a system you’ve never used before, ask around to see what experiences other producers in your area have had with it. This will pay dividends, says Garth Massie of Morris Industries. “Ask other farmers in your area about strengths and weaknesses,” he says.

There are a variety of designs currently on the market. Each will have advantages and disadvantages in the type of soil on your farm. Average moisture conditions are a factor in air seeder performance, as well. That’s why talking to neighbours may provide some valuable insight into which designs work well in your area. “Consider the soil type or types, general weather trends, and crop varieties you are looking to work with,” says Fagnou.

Massie agrees that field conditions should influence buying decisions. Deciding on options such as tow-between versus tow-behind commodity carts is another example of that. “Some farmers in hilly land prefer tow-between carts to reduce the amount of drill skewing on hillsides,” he adds.

Air seeders currently use a variety of opener styles. Which one you need will depend on your operation. “For a conventional seeding system that will provide mechanical weed kill, a wider sweep and a spreader or splitter boot will give good seed and fertilizer spread,” says Fagnou. In contrast to that style, “seed knives provide very little soil disturbance,” he adds. But no matter which style of opener any seeder is equipped with, check each one for damage or excessive wear around the seed opening. That may be especially important on side-banding How do you want to use the drill? Do you want to direct seed? What can your tractor handle? Know what you want before you shop.

Talk to neighbours about their drills and what they like and don’t like about them.

When you find one you like, check each opener for wear. Many of them may need to be replaced, so consider that when negotiating a price.

Look at the hitch and frame for stress fractures, welds and other wear spots. This will give you a hint at how much life is left in the machine. Check all hydraulic cylinders for leaks, and get the dealer to lift the openers off the ground and leave them there for a few minutes. If a wing starts to sag, you might need to replace a seal.

Check all product delivery hoses for kinks and wear.

Look inside the cart tanks and the metering system for rust and fertilizer corrosion.

openers. Excess wear can affect soil movement around them and reduce the efficiency of seed placement. “For units equipped with a coulter-style fertilizer bander, check the coulter for overall wear,” he adds.

“Opener choice should be matched to your soil type and the desired level of soil disturbance,” echoes Massie. He suggests producers also consider their desired row spacing — and its affect on horsepower requirements, trash clearance needs, crop competition with weeds, and impact on seed and fertilizer rates. “If possible, choose a packer with low maintenance requirements that won’t build-up excessively with soil,” Massie says.

The complete inspection

When you’ve decided what you want in a seeder and found one that meets your needs, giving the unit a complete inspection will help you determine its overall condition and value. But where do you start? “Start at the hitch. The hitch tongue can tell you if the unit had an easy or hard life,” says Fagnou.

Both Fagnou and Massie recommend giving the frame a thorough inspection. “Check right into the corners of the frame near the pull points of the hitch. Sometimes stress fractures may be found in these locations,” says Fagnou. And Massie recommends looking for signs of weld repairs. Finding excessive repair work may indicate that the seeder has had a hard life and there are more problems ahead from previous abuse.

Aside from the frame, check for wear on wheel hubs and lift assemblies. “Front castoring wheels have a pin on which they turn. Check this for any evidence of bending or stress from hitting washouts or diving in wet conditions,” says Fagnou.

Once you’re satisfied with what you see, you need to ensure the seeder’s hydraulic system will keep it seeding at the correct depth. Leaking cylinders are easy to find by looking for fluid and dirt build up, but internal leaks are harder to detect. “Ask the dealer to put the unit in field position but with the openers up. If the openers begin to drop over a period of time, this may point to a seal problem,” suggests Fagnou.

Check the product delivery hoses to ensure there are no kinks or blockages. Sometimes they can get caught and damaged when wings are lifted. “Locate any tight bends in the hoses, this is the most likely spot to find internal wear from seed or fertilizer,” says Fagnou.

Because fertilizer can be corrosive, it can take a toll on metal components “ Check the commodity cart for metering-body rust, says Massie. This can be severe if the machine hasn’t been properly cleaned out after each season. That can limit the effectiveness of the seals. One dealership service manager recalled cleaning out over 100 pounds of fertilizer from a tank taken in as a trade. The cart hadn’t been cleaned after its use the previous year, and that contributed to excess corrosion. So

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Scott Garvey

Scott Garvey is a freelance writer and video producer. He is also the former machinery editor at Grainews.

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