11 Point Checklist for Planter Maintenance

Alex Tiller - Friday, March 20, 2009

A farmer is only as good as his equipment – and this spring, one of your principal pieces of equipment will no doubt be your trusty planter. Equipment maintenance is one of those “everybody knows” pieces of information, but planters require a fair amount of attention to prevent damage and poor operation thus resulting in poor yields at harvest. Here is a general checklist for maintaining and inspecting your planter, to keep it working smoothly for years to come – remember to check your owner’s manual for the specifics of your model.

  1.   Check all parts and replace any that are worn or damaged
  2.   Replace all rubber seals that have become worn
  3.   Check the alignment of disc openers and coulters – and if disc openers are worn out, replace them
  4.   Repair or replace planter chains or rusty chain links – lubricate the chains that you don’t replace
  5.   Inflate tires to the proper pressure – under or overinflated tires can throw off your seed drop pattern
  6.   Clean your monitoring sensors and clear out the seed tubes
  7.   Check the end of seed tubes to ensure the tube hasn’t become deformed – that can throw off your seed drop
  8.   Look for rust buildup or treatment residue on the finger-pickup back plates
  9.   Inspect backplates for worn spots – resembling dimples – that can cause double seed drops
  10.   Adjust finger tension to manufacturer’s recommended values
  11.   Visually inspect the seed conveyor belt and the belt drive sprocket teeth for wear and to make sure these important components haven’t become brittle

When it comes time to start planting, I also suggest making a test pass, then going back to review the results before you continue to plant the rest of the field.  Measure to test the depth and spacing of each seed while looking for doubles and/or misses. Your tests should sample 25 foot strips, for each row, on flat land, planted at a typical planting speed, and you should do this in random 100 foot intervals.  Take at least 3 samples from your test pass and write down the results. If you find a consistent problem, (i.e. row 3 has more doubles) go back to the check list and try to find the problem.  Remember, in times like these we need to make every dollar count on our inputs. (garbage in = garbage out) Happy planting!

4 Tips for Selling Your Used Farm Equipment

Alex Tiller - Friday, July 25, 2008

Now that you have that spiffy new tractor or planter, what to do with the old one?  There are a few things that you can do to make your trash another man’s treasure with only a little effort. 

1.       Love at first sight.  How often did you look at the rusty truck sitting for sale on the side of the road?   Chances are, not ever.  Take that rusty truck, add some sanding, primer and paint and it looks as good as the day it rolled off the lot.  It is a proven fact that the first thing people take note of is outward appearance.  That can be applied to nearly everything – including farm equipment.  By taking that old piece of equipment and putting in a few hours work you could automatically increase the price by about $500.  A friend of mine did this with a horse trailer that was originally priced at $800 and got zero calls.  After some paint, she was able to sell it for $1500 within a week. 

2.       Extra-Extra read all about it!  Now is the time to hit the web.  You can reach a wide variety of potential buyers by using free classifieds.  There are tons of such Web sites out there.  http://craigslist.org and http://usa4sale.com are two of the biggest that are available.  There are others that are specialized for farm equipment sales like http://tractorsandfarming.com, and http://usfarmer.com.  Their Web sites provide a wealth of buyers and sellers looking to find anything from a weed trimmer to a vintage tractor and all the parts to fix it.  (Also consider contacting a reseller like http://www.ssbtractor.com)

Reach your local audience too.  Run an add in the local paper, make simple fliers and stick them at the feed and seed, local coffee shop, gas station - wherever the local crowd tends to mill about.  Even try attaching them to the bulletin board in the office of you local grain elevator or FSA office. 

(If you use fliers, make them eye catching – use a bright colored printer paper, or use basic white paper and let the kids decorate.  Whatever it takes to make your piece of paper stuck to the wall more noticeable than the others.)

3.       Maybe you don’t have any desire to mess with trying to sell it yourself- you just want it out of the way.  Here are a couple of options.

Like the George Straight song says, “just give it away.”  Maybe there is someone else that can benefit from your hand-me-downs.  It could even be donated to a local organization like the 4-H chapter or F.F.A.   Donating to non-profit organizations could also gives you a tax write off.  You can find your local 4-h chapter by visiting this Web site http://www.csrees.usda.gov/Extension/index.html.  Contact the area high school to find out more information about donating to FFA (www.ffa.org). 

Another option is to make it a business deal.  Perhaps you have a son or grandson or even a friend of the family’s boy that would be interested in working on a piece of equipment in order to sell.  Set a deadline, maybe give them a small budget and let them have at it.   When it sells, you split the money on it.  Not only does it do you a favor, but it also gives the youngster an opportunity to do some problem solving , learn something about mechanics, and practice in business dealings as well. 

4.      Feeling scrappy?  Depending on the condition, it may be easier to scrap out the metal and take it to the recycling center. Price of steel per pound seems to vary by region.  It generally ranges from 60 cents per pound to a dollar.  A lot of people have made this another form of income to compensate for the rising cost of living.  Check out www.scrap.com  for up to date prices on steel.  They also provide browsers with local buyers of scrap throughout the country.  Not only are you recouping some money out of an investment, you are also helping the environment by recycling!

These are just a few ideas.  In order to make your selling effort a success, advertise well and be persistent.  The right buyer is out there hunting just as hard as you are.  Good luck!