Planting has come a long way from the days of scattering seeds on the ground and hoping for the best. Manufacturers around the globe are introducing several initiatives to improve agricultural practices and productivity. These manufacturers, such as Parker, are promoting the use of advanced technologies and mechanized equipment even in small household farms.
For instance, in the past few years, drive technology went from sprockets and chains to shafts to hydraulic motors. Now we have electric-drive motors on each row unit. The biggest technologies for planters and other ag equipment now are the electronics and control systems.
This evolution of planter technology helps farmers automate a large part of their agricultural operations and minimize their input costs.
Speed and the need for more storage is are two of the most important aspects of a planter. One of the elements to make the equipment faster is making components smaller and lighter to increase productivity. On planters there are several different types of hose and tubing that take up a considerable amount of room. To reduce the footprint of hose or tubing, you either need to find a replacement with a reduced outer diameter without sacrificing flow. Furthermore, the replacement hose needs to handle high temperatures and environmental stress to prevent premature hose failure and safety risks. Parker’s push-to-connect thermoplastic hose offers a wide variety of added value over their rubber counterparts. Thermoplastic hose is built with a high level of contact strength between the layers of core, braid and jacket. The inherent strength of the thermoplastic materials used to make hose allows the use of less material when compared to rubber hose. The outer diameter of thermoplastic hose from Parker can be 20% smaller than outer diameters on comparable rubber hose. This feature is very important on equipment where space is limited and many hoses must fit into a small area, which is common within planters. Furthermore, thermoplastic hoses due to the material and construction, are up to 40% lighter than comparable rubber hoses.
As the requirements for seeding technology have generally become more demanding, with new features including: changing row widths, grain singling, simultaneous working-in of fertilizer, grain counting sensors, and integration with the tractor and farm information system. Today’s conventional till and no-till planting technology runs the gamut, from large-frame, modular-frame, small-frame and folding planters to air hoe and air disk drills to row-crop planters and seeders.
Precision control systems take the guesswork out of the planting process and potentially reduces input costs at a time when those costs are continuing to rise. This can greatly increase your efficiency during planting season.
There are a number of different models of planters that include a variety of options. These include mechanical drives, hydraulic/electric drives, point row clutches, variable rates and more. It’s always a good idea to consider a few different models to determine which one is best for your operation. New advancements in planting technology includes such as down-force management, variable-rate seeding and section control technology allowing users to adjust planting prescriptions on the fly to address changes in field conditions. They also allow the user to automatically turn row units on and off to reduce seed costs and GPS-enabled software ensures that seeds are dropped only where they are needed. This advanced technology is not only for new equipment, you can retrofit your current planting equipment to optimize seed placement. For instance, Parker’s Hydraulic Downforce concept can provide a simple easy to control system to meet the end customer’s needs. Parker’s system approach includes:
Typically a planter downforce system includes an onboard controller which is actively controlling a hydraulic actuator to regulate force based on a force feedback sensor. Parker's wide range of downforce component and system options can provide the best solution for your planter needs while minimizing power requirements with our industry-leading downforce valve.
Technology has also been enhanced beyond the downforce system. Variable air pressure systems, or CTIS (central tire inflation systems), has gained popularity within the planter market. The reasons for their increase in popularity and inevitable acceptance span from increased fuel efficiency to reduced soil compaction, but ultimately all the benefits revolve around operating a tire at the exact correct pressure for the load and speed imposed on the tire to increase productivity.
CTIS systems are already catching on in Europe, where awareness of the cost of soil compaction is high, and so is the percentage of the time tractors spend on the road going from field to field. So far, most American farmers have been reluctant to invest in CTIS. But U.S. and Canadian farmers are starting to realize that in order to get maximum productivity from the horsepower they’re buying -- to make sure all that horsepower is reaching the ground-- they need to manage inflation pressure. And a CTIS package is a small fraction of the cost of a modern tractor and/or planter.
Technology is and will always be important, but don’t ignore maintenance as one of the main building blocks of productivity and efficiency. Proper adjustment of planting equipment, whether you are a conventional grower or a no-tiller, is very important. That means checking wearable parts, adjusting for and maintaining a level ride for your planter, taking pains to ensure proper planting depth in a variety of conditions and applying adequate downforce for good seed-to-soil contact.
To enhance the maintenance process, Parker’s innovative component-tagging and asset management solution keeps you more connected and better informed about your asset than ever before. Parker Tracking System can help you identify parts, track maintenance activities, and order replacements quickly and easily. For instance, a customer can scan the barcode on one of Parker’s constant working pressure hydraulic hoses and immediately find out part number, size, rating, and length of hose; end fitting sizes, and configurations; and where and when the assembly was made. This information can immediately be communicated to the nearest Parker distributor, reducing unplanned downtime to a minimum.
In planter equipment, it's not just a question of getting bigger and more complex from a technology aspect, but also getting better maintaining and monitoring equipment to reduce unplanned downtime. Parker can help optimize your planter with the right technology that yields the highest profits. Visit our off-road machinery industry page, to identify products and solutions that you need to optimize your equipment.