Precision Point Blog

Don’t Go Through Another Planting Season Without Hydraulic Down Force

by Andrew Jungers on January, 07 2014 in Ag Leader, SeedCommand™

The upcoming spring of 2014 will be Ag Leader’s second season providing Hydraulic Down Force. Controlled by the Ag Leader® Integra display, Ag Leader dealers and end users are quickly seeing the benefits this system can provide. Supported planter row units for Hydraulic Down Force for Spring 2014 are John Deere MaxEmerge® 2, MaxEmerge® Plus, MaxEmerge® XP, XP Pro, Kinze® 3000 (non-Interplants), Kinze® 4900 and White™ 8000 (limited release).

The Hydraulic Down Force system is centered on the unique hydraulic actuator. One very important feature of the actuator is the patented nitrogen accumulator. The accumulator is the large shaped piece on the upper portion of the actuator (See Figure 1). When a row unit needs to make a rapid upward adjustment due to terrain changes and obstacles, the accumulator allows for this instantaneous movement and absorbs the pressure increase. Without an accumulator, the row unit is not allowed its natural movement and could result in damage versus a hydraulic system that did not have this feature.

Ag Leader Hydraulic Down Force does not require the user to enter a target down force setting or margin (some initial planter specific settings required). The Ag Leader Integra display is able to use data from Gauge Wheel Sensors installed on several rows across the planter to determine optimal down force to achieve the desired planting depth while limiting compaction. Major pressure adjustments can be made in as quickly as one second, making it substantially quicker than any air bag down force system on the market. In addition, there are fine-tuning adjustments that can be made per channel on the go by the operator. The default setting will provide ideal control for a large majority of growers. Although in field conditions where compaction is a major concern, or where the field conditions require extra gauge wheel load to break up clods, quick and easy adjustments can be made right at the operator’s fingertips.

For further customization of the system, Hydraulic Down Force can be controlled in two channels; one channel controlling the middle rows of the planter directly under the bulk seed tank and behind the tractor, and the second channel controlling the outer wings of the planter. Tests have shown that the compaction left by the tractor and bulk seed tanks result in the row units in this zone requiring 100-200 lbs extra down force versus the row units on the wings of the planter.

One of the first results typically seen when using this system is the uniform plant emergence where the field conditions or soil types are highly variable. Going from a soft, sandy soil type to hard clay areas of a field can negatively affect the planting depth. Down force springs cannot account for this without a manual change, and an active control air bag system can take up to 15-20 seconds to fully adjust for this variance. The ability to quickly and accurately adjust the down force in these scenarios gives the planted seed a chance to yield to its full potential. If the seed is planted at the incorrect depth or into a compacted trench, yield potential is compromised before the seed even starts to grow.

With a successful first planting season behind us, growers that utilized Hydraulic Down Force saw how this fast, reliable and accurate down force method is them giving improved crop stands and yields.

“I was very pleased with the even emergence as a result of the Ag Leader Down Force System that I purchased from my dealer. With the wet spring we had, we tended to run the system on a “light” Down Force setting.  On our 3700 Kinze 24 row, 20 inch planter, as the seed boxes emptied we would see “Inadequate Down Force Alarms” show up.  This is a big problem on planters with individual row seed boxes. Before, with down pressure springs, there was no way of knowing if we had too much or too little down force as the weight of the seed boxes changed. I’m convinced the system paid for itself this year alone.  I’m looking forward to using it in a “normal” spring!  The Ag Leader Team is superb; they have been there to talk us through issues and always answer their phone calls.” Glenn Griffin – NE Iowa

For further information about Hydraulic Down Force, contact your local Ag Leader dealer or call Technical Support at 515-232-5363.


I am using the downforce on a JD 1790 planter in no till conditions.  I typically see gauge wheel pressure in the 400 range and downforce numbers in the 35- 40 range.  Do these seem right for this situation?

Bradley Kurtz on Apr 21, 2014

Thanks for your question! 400 is likely the Down Force you are seeing and 35-40 would be the Gauge Wheel Load. This very well could be right for your planting situation. In a no-till condition, more down force is typically required for the disc openers to penetrate to planting depth, and 400 lbs would follow that trend. A gauge wheel load tells us we have good contact between the gauge wheels and the soil, and the values we need to see here can vary depending on other factors such as planting speed, roughness of the field, planter setup/attachments, etc. A consistent gauge wheel load is ideal.
Keep in mind, appropriate Down Force for one planter may not be appropriate for the next. A quick dig check to verify planting depth is being achieved would be a good step to take. If there’s still room for improvement, there are some down force settings that can be adjusted.
For further questions regarding Hydraulic Down Force setup, and any other questions, feel free to call Ag Leader Support. Phone 515-232-5363

Ag Leader on Apr 21, 2014

I’m preparing to purchase a new Case IH 1255 16 Row 30” unit.  I now use an AgLeader ParaDyme and my current Case IH 12 Row unit utilizes Ag Leader Electric clutches.  My preference as I outfit my new planter is to go Ag Leader, but without a hydraulic downforce option for my chosen planter, I’m left to consider other packages from manufactures like Precision Planting.  Their hydraulic units for the Case planters are available for individual row units - not just 1 or two channels.

Ag Leader, where are you…?

Mike Maddox on Aug 06, 2014

Hi, Mike. Thanks for your question. We recognize hydraulic down force is important to your operation and appreciate your feedback. Unfortunately, we will not have a system compatible with your specific planter by next planting season, but are continuously working to expand our offerings to meet our customers needs.

Thanks again,
Ag Leader

Ag Leader on Aug 11, 2014

I have agleader down force i have been running between medium and light.  i get a message not sufficient down pressure. when in light is switch to medium and i think i am getting sidewall compaction?  gauge wheel at medium is around 200 what should gauge wheel pressure be for notill corn.  soil is a little wet and clay soil.  Another problem i am having is my auto steer looses gps signal or gets very week around 6-8 pm any suggestions?  Lincoln NE. we farm next to some high volt transmission lines could this effect it?

steve Hotovy on May 10, 2017

Thank you for reaching out, Steve.
Please give tech support a call at (515) 735-7000 at your convenience. We’d be happy to discuss it with you more in-depth.

Ag Leader on May 11, 2017

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