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Planting: Speed vs. Accuracy

by Feb 25, 2020Ag Leader, Featured, SeedCommand®

Now You Can Have Both

The modern world is obsessed with speed. People want fast broadband, fast service, fast package delivery and, of course, fast food.

Farmers are no exception. The proverb, “make hay while the sun shines” applies to corn and soybean planting as much as hay making. When there’s a window of favorable planting conditions, it’s time to go.

It follows that high-speed planting would be in great demand, which has been proven through the introduction of fast planters to the market over the last few years. High-speed planting isn’t new to the market, but a high-speed system that combines high accuracy with simplicity and low maintenance is. That’s where Ag Leader’s SureSpeed™ planting system comes into play.

Hitting the planting window

In actuality, very few farmers can plant continuously at high speeds. “Not all producers can plant 12 miles an hour for a number of reasons,” says Bob Heston, Ag Leader product manager. Planting speed may be limited by tractor horsepower, the lay of the land, or ground conditions.

The true value of high-speed planting is more about timing than speed. Oftentimes farmers only have a short window when field conditions are ideal for planting. The 2019 growing season, for instance, left many farmers with just a few days when the ground was dry enough to plant.

“Increasing planting speed can be a huge benefit to hit that planting window,” says Heston. “You’re often planting in between weather breaks, and planting into soil that is too wet or dry can cost you yield.”

“Increasing planting speed in areas of the field where you are able to can help you to get more acres planted per day. This increased productivity not only allows you to hit your optimum planting window, but also lets you plant more acres when ground conditions are fit and stay out of the field when they are not.”

Accuracy is everything

With a traditional planter, the meter and gravity drop seed tube were designed to operate well at around five mph. Performance decreases as speed increases. Planting faster can also lead to more row unit bounce and loss of consistent planting depth.

“Planting accurately at higher speeds consists of several factors. The seed meter needs to singulate seed at high rates, the seed has to be transferred to the ground without introducing spacing variations, and the row unit needs to maintain ground contact to ensure the seeds are planted at the correct depth.” Heston says.

Correct depth and spacing are key factors for optimizing growth and achieving maximum yields.

Higher speeds with excellent accuracy

This year, Ag Leader is introducing a high-speed planting system called SureSpeed. It’s designed to maintain 99% accuracy at any speed up to 12 mph.

“New high speed planters come with a steep price tag, so SureSpeed, which is our aftermarket option, is a very cost-effective way to get this technology on your planter,” says Heston.

Initial reports on SureSpeed performance show exceptional results.

Producer John Evans of Little River, Texas, installed SureSpeed on his 16-row John Deere planter as part of Ag Leader’s spring field testing.

“Just from what we’ve seen running SureSpeed this spring, I’m impressed. We were planting over 12 mph and consistently getting more than 99% singulation,” Evans says. “I won’t run that fast always, but it is nice to have the option. It could easily cut my planting window in half.”

Evans also reported that SureSpeed was easy to install. “The whole system installation was fairly simple. It went fast and wasn’t complicated,” he says.

“The system is built exactly like I’d expect from Ag Leader. On par with their other products, SureSpeed is well made and looks like it will last.”

Unique seed delivery design 

SureSpeed is designed from the ground up to be a high-speed system.

“Its unique meter design maximizes singulation at all speedswith a no-adjust floating singulator, while a controlled transfer of seed from the meter to the delivery device ensures perfect spacing,” says Heston.

A brushless DC motor and Kevlar-reinforced belt ensures SureSpeed will stand up to tough field conditions while minimizing maintenance costs. SureSpeed also works seamlessly with variable rate planting systems.

“Another feature of SureSpeed is that eliminating mechanical drives, chains and clutches reduces planter maintenance. For field serviceability, you can disassemble the whole system with no tools,” Heston says.

Works well with others

SureSpeed works best when combined with another Ag Leader product, the SureForce® hydraulic downforce system.

“Together, SureSpeed and SureForce provide high accuracy seed spacing as well as consistent depth,” Heston says. “In addition, the system is controlled with Ag Leader’s industry-leading InCommand 1200 display.

The InCommand 1200 also delivers year-round functionality—from planting through harvest—including guidance and steering control for a truly all-in-one solution.

SureSpeed available for order now with aftermarket kits for all major brands of planters.

Contact a Dealer to Learn More