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36-Row 20-In Planter
When Greg Kreikemeier, West Point, Neb., pulls into a field with his Deere 8770 tractor and starts hydraulically unfolding his home-built 60-ft. wide "super planter", people driving by on nearby roads often stop to watch.
Kreikemeier engineered and constructed the planter in his farm shop with the help of two hired workers. It plants 36 rows spaced 20 in. apart, applying starter fertilizer in each row. With both row markers down, the machine spans 120 ft.
The 36 Deere planter boxes hold 54 bu. of seed corn, or 90 bu. of beans. Two tanks mounted on the tractor carry 1,300 gal. of fertilizer. Once filled the planter can plant 120 to 180 acres at a rate of 40 to 45 acres an hour. Kreikemeier says his goal is to be able to reload the planter in 15 min. but he's still working the bugs out of an automated system.
The planter has already planted 3,800 acres of corn and 2,200 acres of beans. For transport, hydraulics fold the machine down to 16 ft., which is about the width of an 8-row planter.
Kreikemeier plants crops for other farmers in exchange for labor and machines on his own place. "One rig covering many acres is more efficient than several farmers each owning an 8-row planter."
To build the big planter, he used Deere vacuum planter boxes mounted on Friesen toolbars. Operation of the planter is controlled by a Big John monitor in the cab of his Deere 8770 300 hp. tractor. The monitor can handle 36 seed monitors, fertilizer application and the hydraulics. "You program what you want as far as plant population and amount of fertilizer. Once the planter is full, I don't have to leave the seat of the tractor," he says.
The 3-section planter flexes in two spots.
Kreikemeier says the jury is still out on 20-in. corn. "I did a lot of research last winter before deciding to go to 20-in. rows. I guess time will tell. I haven't talked to anyone who hasn't had a 5 to 10 percent increase in yield. Just a 4 percent increase will pay for the change over time."
He plants a dryland population of 24,000 to 28,000 plants per acre. On irrigated land, plant population ranges from 30,000 to 36,000 plants per acre. One benefit of the practice, he notes, has been reduced amounts of herbicides since the tighter foliage reduces weed growth.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Greg Kreikemeier, West Point, Neb. 68788 (ph 402 372-5263).

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1996 - Volume #20, Issue #4