Every farmer knows that great maintenance is essential to save time and money. However, not every grower realizes just how much difference a few simple tweaks can make at planting time. Spend the off-season making minor adjustments and repairs – you’ll save time on the field, and you may even be able to boost your yield.


Getting Down Pressure Just Right

When you don’t have the correct down pressure, you’re likely to have problems with uneven seed depth, which leads to uneven emergence and growth. To get the correct pressure, check your gauge wheels. If you can’t turn them by hand, you have too much down pressure. On the other hand, if the gauge wheels turn freely, there isn’t enough down pressure. You should be able to turn the gauge wheels, but they should also be making enough ground contact that you find it difficult to turn them.


Take a Look at the Seed Tubes

Seed tubes are easy to overlook, but they wear out much faster than you think. One small defect – like a curled piece of plastic – can reduce the number of seeds planted per rotation or cause your seeds to scatter. Minor problems like rough plastic or small curled bits can be cut away with a sharp knife. If the seed tube has a warped opening or a larger flaw, consider replacing it completely.


Clean Fertilizer Tubes and Pumps

Whether you use liquid or granular fertilizer, it’s important to make sure the pathways that the fertilizer travels are perfectly clean. A buildup of old fertilizer, grime or anything else will slow down the fertilizer flow rate, which can cost you valuable hours as you try to troubleshoot the problem in the midst of planting. You’ll also want to make sure that all tubes and hoses are plenty flexible. Dried, brittle hoses are much more likely to break as you’re planting.


Get Your Seeder Level

As you switch between tractors and equipment, it’s easy to forget to level your seeder. Every time you hitch the seeder, take it out into the field and level the drawbar. If your seeder is too low in the front, you could be cutting seed slots too deep, or your packing wheels may not firm the soil properly. When the front of your seeder is too high, the seed slots will be shallow and row cleaners will be less effective.

One small adjustment or repair won’t make or break your harvest. However, when you look at the bigger picture, you’ll start to see how a few minor faults can really add up. Make sure your equipment is running at peak efficiency to improve your yield, reduce your costs and save time both on and off the field.