The planting season is here; some farmers have already completed the task while others are still working in the fields.
There are also those who are still waiting for the heavy rains to subside so that they do not wash away their crops or seeds when they plant.
If you have not already planted, you can achieve the full potential of the planter by doing the following mechanical checks before you go into the field to minimise downtime and delays:
Check and lubricate all chains and sprockets, grease all the necessary points. Then later check and grease all the bearings.
Ensure that all the drive wheels and drive lines are working freely and are not rusted or stiff.
Clean and lubricate the seed and fertiliser drives and metering units and replace any defective parts.
Check the seed and fertiliser tubes ensuring they are in good condition and are not blocked and replace as necessary.
Ensure the disc openers and tynes (if applicable) are in good condition and replace those that are worn out. This is very important as it gives accurate seed placement.
Check the correct alignment of coulters in relation to the planter units and press wheels.
You must understand all the recommendations of the seeds you have purchased, so that you know the planting depth and inter-row spacing.
In conjunction with the manufacturer’s manual, prepare the calibration of planters for seed and fertiliser placement.
The right plant population per acre ensures that while competing for nutrients and sunlight, the plants offer each other healthy support for maximum yields.
For example, if the seed supplier recommends a planting depth of 3cm with inter-row spacing of 23cm between plants, the owner’s manual will provide all the necessary information to calibrate the planter to achieve this, by giving the correct seed plate and appropriate settings of the drive gears of the planter.
The rate of fertiliser plays a key role in achieving a good crop. Similarly, the granular size of fertiliser plays a role in this and should be calibrated to meet the desired kilogrammes per acre or hectares as recommended by an agronomist or your seed and fertiliser supplier. This is achieved by adjusting drive gears as per the owner’s manual and must be done in conjunction with above ground practical testing to ensure that the planter delivers the required amount.
After calibration of the fertiliser and seed units, the placement of fertiliser should be set, so that it is just below, or to one side of the seed to avoid burning them through direct contact. This is important because if burning occurs, the seed will not grow and produce a plant.
The depth of planting will require fine adjustment in the field when you start planting as the soil condition does influence this.
During planting, it is important to follow the lubrication instructions as per the owner’s handbook and hourly greasing regime and importantly, use graphite powder in the seed to lubricate the planting metering mechanism.
By going through these steps before planting, the limiting factors will be minimised and the plant will be able to offer good yield potential in the early growth stages, which contributes to a bumper harvest.
If all these are done correctly, through careful crop husbandry combined with sufficient rainfall, a farmer should be rewarded with a good harvest.
Clean and lubricate the seed and fertiliser drives and metering units and replace any defective parts. Check the seed and fertiliser tubes ensuring they are in good condition and are not blocked and replace as necessary.