Spudnik Reports Strong Performance of New Planters

Published online: Aug 01, 2019 Articles, New Products, Potato Equipment
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Source: Spudnik

This spring, our friends at Spudnik unleashed their new 8312 12-row planter on the potato industry, and it has been doing wonders for growers across the country. Here's the report of the 2019 planting season from Spudnik:

The introduction of the 12-row planter last year has changed how we view planting potatoes, and is revolutionizing the ability to increase productivity and timing. As we continue to move forward in increasing our efficiency and timing of the crop to be planted, with this new tool we have the ability to achieve better plant stands and less seed issues due to cold soil and weather related problems. Some of the key benefits of this planter are transport width so that we can get from field to field with ease; the planter is easy to load, as it is just like loading a 6-row planter, only deeper. With the capacity of the seed tank, it can cover more acres an hour. The folding of the outside rows, as we have nicknamed this machine the Praying Mantis, allows the ability to plant 3 rows, 6 rows, 9 rows, or the full twelve, and be able to maneuver around obstacles and tight fields with ease. The row units that are on this planter are the proven GRIMME units that have been used on our previous planters, which makes this unit easy to operate and adjust for top performance. The planter has auto depth control, and the wings will adjust to keep the seed placement accurate as terrain changes. The planter steering is very maneuverable and works exceptionally well with GPS steering systems.
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This spring we had five 12-row planters that were in the field from coast to coast, and the exciting news that we are able to share is that we had them in all conditions, and they performed very well. We started in Washington in March, due to the late spring. This would be the first 34" row spacing on the 12-row configuration, as the rest were all 36" row spacing. As we set up the machine, we were able to dial it in with minimal start up time. Some of the issue we did encounter was tractor hydraulic flow for the planter, as it takes a good flow of oil to keep all the drives running, we only encountered this with the older Challenger, as it did not have the flow we needed, but we could still run, but not as fast as we could have. The planter performed very well and the farm was able to cover their acreage with less time, allowing them to plant when they needed to.
We then moved to Idaho to plant the first part of April. The machine that we had going in Idaho was the first one we had prototyped in 2018, we had done a few updates to it and add a hydraulic wheel drive to help in the soft sand and softer, wetter conditions. This proved to be very helpful to be able to pull the planter thru some tough conditions and it proved to us that it helped the tractor be more economical using its power and lower fuel consumption. The option of a rear tool bar with shanks on it were used to help rip the tracks out and the center between the rows. The farm was able to plant their acreage in a short planting window, and the operator made the comment that he would really have a hard time going back to a 6-row planter. I know at first it looks intimidating, but after operating this planter, it gets around very gracefully and covers acres quickly.
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Next stop to start up was in Manitoba, Canada, at the end of April. This would be our first 12-row planter being pulled with a wheel tractor, as track tractors pulled the planters prior. This proved that a wheel tractor correctly ballasted and with the right rubber, could pull this planter. This planter also had the depth wheels on the shoes to help with consistent seed depth, as we were trying to keep the depth fairly shallow and benefit from the heat and quicker emergence to get the plant off to a good start. The auto height sensing proved to work well after adjusting the gauge wheels and the ride height of the shoes, and we found that this worked consistent with all five planters, and the calibration and operation of this feature proved itself in the field. The productivity from the planter was a big reason that the farm wanted to purchase and run the 12-row planter, and it proved itself in the season as being as productive as two 8-row planters, which they had done in previous years. Due to the cold mornings, they were also able to start later to get warmer soil temperature, finish earlier in the evening, and still cover the acreage in a short planting window. The acreage they were able to cover on their best day this year was around 150, but weather and temperatures did not allow for a full day, and they calculated they could have reached the 200-acre mark per day.
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We finished the planting season in Maine, by starting the last two 12 row planters in May. This is where we found out how maneuverable they really are, as we planted several small fields along with lots of moving and folding to get to the field or down the road. The planters performed really well, the turning ability of the planter was as easy, if not easier than a 6-row pull behind planter due to the width and ability to go right back on the next pass. This also tested our folding ability and unique ability to plant multiple combinations of rows, as field sizes varied from less than an acre up to much larger fields. This farm was able to plant as many acres faster with two 12-row planters then they had done in the past with four 6-row planters. They also have moved from dry fertilizer to applying liquid fertilizer, and making fill up times faster. The weather was a huge challenge with all the moisture and the late spring, so timing was key to allow a chance to get a good crop, and get it started right. The agronomist that was in the field was very excited about the planters, and how they performed on the accuracy, depth control, and acreage covered in a timely manner.
Now that we are into the growing season, the plant stands have looked excellent, and the 12 row planters were successful in operating and fulfilling our expectations, with the ease that we have gotten used to with our planters. We are very excited about this new planter and feel it will be the next tool to help us be more productive in a timely manner to achieve the optimal window of planting.