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Seed equipment: Time to upgrade?

Lynn Jaynes Published on 02 January 2015
planting with horses

Curious to see if there was any correlation between seed equipment and seed purchases, I recently posted this question on an online ag forum:

Planters and seeders have made significant changes to achieve better planting depth and seed-to-soil contact. Have you upgraded within the past couple years? How old is the planter or seeder you’re using?

Here is a sampling of responses (with only very minor edits – so be prepared for candor):

" Still using a 1984 John Deere 7000. Still runs like a champ. " Minnesota

" Planter is one year old; air drill is two years old. " Kentucky

" Using an early ’80s 800 for small fields, have a 1994 950 for large fields. Both are very simple to set and run ... definitely like the hoppers for filling. " Kansas

" I use a John Deere 7000 but modified with all precision planting equipment and liquid fertilizer. No need to upgrade when mine does what the newer ones do. " South Dakota

" 7000/Precision upgrades here, as well – Integra monitoring, row clutches. Get along great for a fraction of cost of a new planter and can fix anything on it with about four wrenches.

I will say, if simulation is important to you, the new planters (not naming any brand) are more capable at higher speeds. Next upgrade for me will likely be another 7000 or 7200 (maybe Kinze which is almost same row unit just better build). I’ll just go wider and keep speed down. Center fill would be SWEET – but with tender I am fine with boxes. " Illinois

" I use a 7000 conservation. I do all no-till. The planter has been around for a long time. Sure, I do upgrades, but the planter plants uniform spacings and the seeds come up uniformly. I can’t see 35k for a new planter, or 45k to get a new one with all the upgrades I have on my 7000. " Pennsylvania

" Newer models allow faster planting, faster filling, other conveniences. Trash sweeps, closing wheels, etc., can be put on any such planter to match the local soil types and needs, from 1970s models through brand new, so really no difference on that. I have a 7000 with a few additions. " Minnesota

" Nine-year-old 1760 Deere. Nice planter. Had a 7000 before, they still do a good job, but I like the newer row units, a lot sturdier, markers are lots better, flexes in the middle, lots of little things like that add up. " Illinois

" I have an early model 494A planter, late 1950s I believe. " Michigan

" 2004 1760 here. Two 2008 all-plant crust busters. Will buy newer wheat seeder first before planter. " Colorado

" I think my 7240 Deere has 23 seasons on it. " Michigan

" Our Great Plains drill is about 18 years old. They have made just minor changes to the model we have since we bought ours and no changes having to do with depth of seeding. " Colorado

" Older-than-me IH 510; dealer was out of business before I was born! ’68 model I think. Does a good job but would like to update soon. " Pennsylvania

" Ancient IH broadcast seeder and equally ancient Brillion roller to do 40 acres of alfalfa every other year. Does a good job. No plans to replace them that I know of. " Iowa

" 80s JD 8200 and 70s MF 33; both old but after taking notes of their quirks both do an accurate job. Use the JD for wheat, rye, oat and beans and the MF for grass and clover … Bought a JD 7000 planter – refurbishing this fall and winter; done rebuilding seed meters and getting ready to paint and install new discs, bearings and chains. " North Carolina

" Late ’50s? IH drill. Installed heavier springs, added weight closing wheels. Might as well be new, good as it is. IH 455 corn planter, IH Cyclo 400 corn and bean planters.

Cyclo is due to get some updates this winter. Just driving by fields after emergence, can’t say as I’ve noticed any difference between mine and the big-time operators. Just takes me longer to plant at 4.5 mph. " Pennsylvania

" Early ’80s JD1550 power-till. Picked it up at an auction for $600 and everyone said I was crazy. Works like a charm for alfalfa and clover after I replaced all the seed hoses. " Ohio

Is there any correlation between seed equipment decisions and seed-buying decisions as represented in the study? I’m not a professional survey analyst, and my forum responses do not constitute a valid survey, but if I were to make some analyses, I’d say “Older-than-me IH 510” from Pennsylvania is due for a new planter.

I’d say “early model 494A, late 50s” from Michigan needs to upgrade to “older-than-me IH 510” when that goes to auction, and “everyone said I was crazy” from Ohio needs to be put in charge of the federal deficit. But that’s just my opinion.  FG

PHOTO by Shari Hart