Precision Point Blog

How Hydraulic Down Force works:

by Brett Buehler on December, 05 2017 in SeedCommand™

Simply stated, even plant emergence is the first step to record-setting yields. Even emergence begins with germination, where three key ingredients are required; moisture, warmth, and air. As these ingredients vary throughout a field, so does the time required for a seed to germinate and emerge.

Moisture and warmth will vary as depth varies. With too little weight on the row unit, depth will vary.

While moisture and warmth may not change, the available air is drastically reduced when too much weight is applied. Compaction, as we often think, causes the soil to become hard which restricts root growth. We often fail to realize that the act of compacting soil (or anything for that matter) is pressing out/removing the air pockets. Once we’ve removed the 3rd necessary ingredient for germination; air, all we’re left with is a recipe for disaster.

How Hydraulic Down Force works:

Gauge Wheel Sensors
Weight on the gauge wheels is sensed at every row where a sensor has been installed. This can be as many as all rows of the planter or just a select few. The gauge wheel sensors are the eyes of the down force system - measuring 200 times each second the weight carried by the gauge wheels.



Hydraulic Valve Block
Once the weight being carried by the gauge wheels is known, the system determines if the force to each row needs to be adjusted. Adjustments are made hydraulically, which allow for almost instantaneous adjustments to down force.

Hydraulic Actuator
The actuator is responsible for adding weight as necessary to the row unit. If the gauge wheel sensors indicate more weight is needed, the actuator receives increased hydraulic pressure and increases force being applied to the row unit. If too much weight is present at the gauge wheels, the same actuator will receive a reduced pressure command and reduces force being applied to the row unit



Display
The display in the cab is the heart of the down force system. The information being measured for each row is displayed in an easy to understand format. Real-time adjustments to down force can be viewed on the display and indicate changes in down force requirements, whether it’s a change in soil conditions, planting speed, or contour. The display is also where changes to the system can be made. While the system is designed to adjust down force automatically, the user can indicate if lower than normal down force is desired, possibly due to wet planting conditions, for example.Check out more about hydraulic down force here.

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