"It's the first system that will really guide itself to keep the planter on the ridge," says Larry Rauenhorst, Olivia, Minn., farmer and designer of the new front-mounted "Ridge Hugger."
"Crooked rows and sidehills often make it difficult to keep planter row units centered on the old ridge, and can result in wiped out rows after cultivating," Rauenhorst says.
Part of the "secret" to his invention is that it attaches to individual planter row units rather than the planter toolbar. Thus, by pivoting off of the row unit, each row of the Ridge Hugger can flex and bounce independently of each other, keeping seed centered on the ridge.
Another key feature is the bogie guidance wheels. Two angle-opposed wheels follow the old ridge, keeping the planter row unit centered and locked on the ridge.
When the planter starts to move off the ridges, one wheel of the Ridge Hugger will start to climb the ridge. This shifts all of the weight to the other angled wheel pulling the planter row unit back onto the ridge.
Horizontal discs (14 in. dia.) follow behind the guidance wheels, shearing off the top of the ridge and leaving a clean path for seed placement. Fins on the back of the discs channel dirt and weeds between the ridges.
Rauenhorst says he designed the planter attachment so everything -- from disc depth and tilt, to the guidance system's down pressure -- is easily adjustable. The shearing disks have one-hand adjustment and automatically lock in place.
He notes that the Ridge Hugger can also be used when not planting on ridges, to clear off the top 1/2-in. of soil, leaving a moist surface for the herbicide.
Ridge Huggers will be available soon to fit pull-type and mounted Deere, Kinze and International planters. Optional hiller blades are also available to clean the sides of the ridges.