Ready for Planting? Don’t Skip These Steps Before Heading Out

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by Josh Parcel, Manager of the Climate Research Farm in Martinsville, IL

May 5, 2020

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The opportunity of each new season, it’s what gets me out of bed early every spring morning. Well, that and a fair amount of coffee. Having spent nearly my entire life in the soil — beginning on my family farm and now as manager of a 1,300-acre research farm at The Climate Corporation — planting season turns my attention to the things that I can do to get the most out of every plot of ground.

A Case IH QUADTRAC® 470 tractor moves through the field at the Martinsville, IL Climate Research Farm.

If you’re like me, with so much on your mind and on your to-do list, it can be easy to inadvertently skip over some of the details — the kinds of details that make sure you’re both productive and safe this spring. So when the pressure feels like it’s on, here are a few things to be sure not to miss before you head out to the fields. 

Planting is underway at the Martinsville, IL Climate Research Farm.

Last-Minute Tractor Maintenance Tips

As your tractor gets rolling, be sure to check (or double-check) on these areas: 

  1. Walk around the outside of the tractor and replace any broken parts or burned-out lights. Also, closely inspect your mirrors, guards and shields to make sure everything is in good working condition. 
  2. Under the hood, check all parts for wear, including hoses, fittings and seals, and replace them if needed. 
  3. Be sure the grease fittings (Zerks) are greased at their proper intervals. If they appear clogged, be sure to replace the fitting rather than forcing oil into it. 
  4. Just like for your truck, check the tire pressure, fluid levels and the oil. In fact, it’s a good practice to check the oil level every time you fire up your tractor. 
  5. File this one under if you need it, you REALLY need it: be sure you have a recently charged fire extinguisher and a fully supplied first aid kit in the cab. 

Last-Minute Planter Maintenance Tips

Before hitching up your planter, take a look at these things: 

  1. Check the wear parts on your row units, including bushings, bearings, bolts, openers and gauge wheel arms. 
  2. Ensure the disc blades that cut the furrow are in good condition. 
  3. Inspect the seed tube lines to make sure there are no blockages.
  4. Check all hydraulic hoses to ensure there are no cracks or pinching. 
  5. Run the blowers to ensure the hydraulic motors are pushing seed to the row units properly. Also, test the cylinders that raise and lower the equipment. 
  6. For FieldView™ farmers, refer to this handy resource page with steps on getting ready to use FieldView at planting, setting up your equipment, sending prescriptions to the cab, and much more. 

A Case IH Magnum™ 310 tractor begins planting at the Martinsville, IL Climate Research Farm.

Above All, Focus on Safety 

With concerns this year around coronavirus, it’s a good reminder in general to take extra precautions for safety. When planting windows come, it can feel like a rush to get everything done. I’d encourage you to pause for a moment, take a rest when needed, and be sure you’re going about things safely. Whether it’s getting sick or having an injury in the field, nothing can slow you down more than a medical situation. So be safe out there, and here’s to having a successful planting season!

FieldView users can also watch our planting webinars to learn more about how to get set up for success:

  • Spring readiness - includes tractor and planter equipment set up guidance and much more to get you ready to roll.
  • Sprayer set up - includes application set up and analysis guidance. 

About the Author

Josh Parcel manages the Climate Research Farm in Martinsville, IL, near the Illinois and Indiana border. Joined by four other Climate Research Farms spread across the Midwest, Josh and the Martinsville team help test and ground-truth digital farming innovations for The Climate Corporation. Josh was previously in corn breeding for Monsanto/Bayer and holds a bachelor’s degree from Southern Illinois University.