There’s a simple reason why 12-, 16- and 24-row planters have become the new norm on today’s farms. The same goes for 30-, 40- and 50-foot air drills. With the average farm size continually on the increase, there simply isn’t enough time to get everything planted within an often all-too-narrow planting window without them.
A growing number of farmers have switched to bulk seed, pallet containers and seed hoppers for the same reason. They can’t afford the time involved in handling individual bags.
So why not save even more time with a scale on the planter or seed tender? According to Nick Von Muenster, President of Scale-Tec, having a scale on the planter, drill or seed tender can significantly improve efficiency by saving precious time (and, potentially, reducing labor costs) at one of the most critical times of the year.
Imagine being able to fill the hoppers or seed boxes with the right amount of seed the first time. Or spending less time cleaning out the planter or drill when changing varieties or farms. And who would miss stopping to see what’s left in the hoppers — especially at night, when that means grabbing the flashlight and climbing around in the dark?
Consider these five efficiencies observed and tested by Scale-Tec customers:
1. Better seed inventory management.
“If I didn’t have a scale on the seed tender, I wouldn’t know how many acres of seed I have on the planter, and I wouldn’t know how much seed is left in the boxes on the seed tender,” says Zach Ryder, a farmer-dealer from Cascade, Iowa.
An optional POINT indicator from Scale-Tec allows the farmer to connect their Apple or Android device to the POINT display to distribute a precise, preprogrammed amount of seed through automatic shutoff of the auger/conveyor.
Farmers who do custom farming or answer to multiple landowners can breathe easier, knowing that they are delivering the correct amount of seed to each farm and then bill accordingly.
2. More precise fill of seed hoppers and boxes.
Whether you are utilizing a seed tender for a bulk fill planting system or pairing it with a planter with row units, a scale system ensures you have the right amount of seed in each box or hopper.
“When we are loading our planter, I can weigh the seed going in, so I can get the accurate amount in both halves of the corn planter,” Ryder says. “Or, if you have an individual-box planter, you can get the same weight in each box.”
Time is especially valuable during planting, Ryder adds. “I don’t have time to be off by 50 pounds of seed. I don’t want to be out at midnight with an ice cream bucket scooping seed out of one side to the other.”
3. More efficient use of the tractor and planter.
Perhaps Scale-Tec customer Randy Toenjes, who farms in Jones County, Iowa, said it best: “Every half hour you don’t waste shuttling seed back and forth, or coming up short in a field and having to run back to the warehouse for more seed, keeps the tractor running.”
“With a scale, there’s no need to keep looking to see if one side of a dual hopper is lower than the other,” Von Muenster says. “As a result, farmers save time because they don’t have to stop, get out and check the seed levels. Without a scale, it’s a guessing game.”
Zack Ryder agrees. “If you’re loading your dual hopper planter and you’re off 100 pounds from one side to the other, and it causes you to be stopped for 10 minutes, that’s lost productivity. In the spring, a few hours can make the difference between getting the crop in before it starts raining or sitting there for two weeks.”
4. Much quicker rate adjustments.
“Whether you are using a drill or bulk fill planter, it’s important to get your planting equipment accurately dialed in as quickly as possible,” Von Muenster says. “Seed size and variety can greatly affect the seeding rate, which means that just as soon as you complete one variety or field and move on to the next, you’re looking at more adjustments. Using a scale system allows you to verify the proper rate within just the first few acres, saving both time and seed.”
“Our air drill will hold 70 bushels of soybeans,” Toenjes notes. “We can start and maybe plant 10 acres and hit the scale button and find out how much we’ve used in that 10 acres. That lets us set the population accurately before we burn up a full tank of seed.”
5. Faster switching among varieties.
“The scales are key for me to get the right seed put on the right acres to get the most yield out of the farm,” Ryder says. “I want to be extremely accurate so that when I am done, my planter is almost perfectly empty and I can change hybrids and get planting again. I can also split boxes of corn between farms or landowners, and I know, too, how much I have left so I know how many acres are in that box,” he adds.
Check out the Scale-Tec line of planter/drill kits and seed tender kits, which fit most popular equipment models. Or, contact us to learn more about how a Scale-Tec scale system can boost your bottom line.