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Pull-Type Fertilizer Spreader Makes Great Soybean Seeder
Fertilizer spreaders can be converted into low-cost soybean seeders, says Duane Janikula, Waverly, Minn., who uses a modified pull-type spinner spreader to plant all his soybeans. He makes a second pass with a field cultivator to cover the seed.
"It works fast and it's cheap. It also saves on labor," says Janikula, who has used the fertilizer spreader for 10 years.
He bought a used Mobility spinner spreader for $2,300. He replaced the sprockets on the delivery chain at the bottom of the hopper with bigger ones in order to slow down the chain and reduce seed damage. The chain runs at half its original speed, allowing Janikula to open the endgate twice as high and increase the soybean flow rate. He filed down sharp edges on the endgate in order to avoid cracking beans. The delivery chain is ground-driven by a small rubber wheel that rides against one of the spreader wheels. The drive wheel was originally engaged by pulling on a rope. He replaced the rope with a hydraulic cylinder, allowing him to simply push a lever in the tractor cab at the end of the field in order to shut off the seed flow.
"It's an easy way to cover a lot of acres fast without having to spend money for a drill," says Janikula. "It spreads the seed in a 45 to 50-ft. wide pattern. I use it every year to plant about 1,000 acres of soybeans. It results in an excellent stand of soybeans, even in dry years. I use a 130 hp tractor to pull it, although I could use a much smaller tractor.
A forklift fills it with seed from bulk bags. I put two bulk bags into the hopper at a time. Each bag holds about 2,500 lbs. Any more weight than that would stretch the delivery chain. At first I had problems with cracked seed because the delivery chain was running too fast. I haven't had any problems since I slowed down the chain. The slower speed also pulls beans through easier. However, I do have to watch bean size so I don't over or under plant. I compensate for differences in bean size by adjusting the endgate opening.
"I got the idea because I needed a way to reduce labor. I had been using an 8-row planter. One advantage is that the spreader holds more seed than a drill or planter. I can plant 100 acres per fill and up to 250 acres per day. My fertilizer spreader isn't as depth accurate as a planter, but it certainly works as good as most drills. Incorporation of seed into the soil is the most important factor in getting a good stand."
Before planting beans Janikula disk-chisels corn stubble in the fall. The following spring he field cultivates and applies a yellow herbicide on his first pass, then spreads the soybean seed and makes another pass with the field cultivator. The seed is broadcast onto soil that has about 60 percent surface residue cover.
"We incorporate preemergence herbicides at the same time we work the seeds in," says Janikula. "We use a Wil-Rich Quad 5 cultivator and set the 9-in. wide sweeps to go 3 in. deep, which places seed about 1 1/2 in. deep. Cultivating at 7 mph, about 5 percent of the seeds end up on the soil surface. Be-cause of that we deliberately overplant by 5 or 10 percent. After using the field cultivator we run a double-wrapped FlexiCoil soil packer for better seed-to-soil contact and it also pushes the old corn roots and any soil clods down, which makes for really nice combining in the fall."
To plant a field, Janikula starts from one side and works across. If he ends up having to plant a partial strip, he lowers the endgate and adjusts spreader speed to throw a narrower band of seed.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Duane Janikula, 11213 Elliott Ave. S.W., Waverly, Minn. 55390 (ph 612 658-4177).

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1998 - Volume #22, Issue #5