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Grain Drill Control Changes Seed Rate On The Go
"It lets me plant soybeans thinner on good ground and thicker on poor ground just by flipping a switch," says Keith Roberts, Morral, Ohio, who modified a 15-ft. Great Plains grain drill with an electric screw actuator tied to the meter lever and controlled by electronic micro-switches.
Roberts farms hilly central Ohio farmland that varies from heavy black bottom land to white clay on hilltops. Beans were always too thick on the good ground and too thin on the poor ground. Getting off to change the meter by hand would be too time consuming so, like most farmers, he just aimed for an average.
"The problem with seed drills is that they're so inaccurate. You can set them but you never know what rate they're really planting. With this system you know exactly what you're seeding at any time," says Roberts.
Roberts took a electric screw actuator from a used fertilizer applicator and mounted it horizontally so that the shaft extends just above the metering lever. Then he welded a bracket to the bottom side of the shaft and connected it to the meter lever. Above the shaft, he mounted a metal plate and attached two micro-switches which limit the movement of the actuator shaft. A small lever welded to the top of the shaft clicks the switches on and off as the shaft moves.
The key to the system is a Hiniker corn planter monitor which Roberts adapted to the grain drill using sensors made for an IH Cyclo planter. He put sensors on two of the rows and the output is sent to the control box in the cab. It gives a constant read-out of how many beans are being planted per foot at any time. To vary seed rate, Roberts simply flips the actuator switch, and it moves the meter lever.
"I vary seed rate from as low as 2? beans per foot to as much as 4 beans per foot, depending on where I am in the field," says Roberts. The micro-switches are set at the upper and lower limits so he can go quickly from one extreme to the other, or stop anywhere in between. "You get to know how much a quick flip of the switch will change the seed rate and you can see instantly on the monitor how much it changes."
Because seed size can vary from 2,200 seeds per lb. to 2,600 seeds per lb., Roberts set up the micro-switches so that the limits of the actuator can be changed to adjust to the size of the seed before he starts planting. He simply moves one of the switches in or out, as needed.
Roberts says he's had his best soybean yields ever the last two years. "Just the monitor alone makes a big difference. Anyone who drills beans should equip their drill with a monitor. They might be surprised to find out what they're actually planting."
Total cost for the modification, not counting the monitor, was minimal since he made use of second hand parts. Roberts pulls a pair of 15-ft. drills together and has modified both drills in the same way.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Keith Roberts, 4045 Goodnow Rd., Morral, Ohio 43337 (ph 614 465-4294).

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1987 - Volume #11, Issue #2