South Dakota farmer finds way to simplify customizing his planter

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By Shannon Marvel

EDMUNDS COUNTY— A Mina area farmer is customizing his new planter without the hassle of taking off any parts.

Dave Palmer is in the midst of installing custom Precision Planting parts on a new Harvest International planter. The planter came without the need to disassemble any other parts, he said.

He ordered the Harvest International planter from a dealership in Storm Lake, Iowa, for $140,000. Then he put around $60,000 worth of custom equipment on it.

Harvest International is a family-owned farm equipment manufacturer based in Iowa, according to its website.

“My last planter, there’s eight boxes of John Deere parts we took off because we wanted to use this kind of system,” Palmer said.

He wanted a planter that used customized parts that would be better equipped to plant seeds on his land, he said.

According to Harvest International dealer Terry Jundt, Palmer is the first farmer in South Dakota to have that type of custom planter.

Palmer said he first looked at a John Deere planter that cost $230,000 and thought it was a good deal before going with the Harvest International.

Jared Kuehn, account manager for RDO Equipment in Redfield, said John Deere offers only operational planters. He said the cheapest planter offered comes in around $210,000.

“That’ll come with meter, entire row units, less closing wheels and less trash wheels,” Kuehn said. “It’s not just going to be a bare bones with no meters. It has to be operational when it comes out.”

By operational, Kuehn means the planter is ready for use.

But Palmer didn’t want all of those extra parts he would just have to take off.

What makes the Harvest International planter unique is the lack of parts on it to begin with, allowing a farmer to custom build it with the tools of his or her choice.

“The minute we decide to put the Precision Planting stuff on (the previous planting bar), you have to take all (the extra parts) and take it off, throw it away. We bought this planter bar with no meters, no downforce, no hydraulic drives, no closing wheels and no gauge wheels, because everyone puts on what they want anyway, so there’s no sense buying all of it. Everyone buys everything twice. With this one you only buy it once,” Jundt said.

A meter is a device used to put seeds in the ground with accurate spacing. Downforce is used to put seeds in the ground at a consistent depth.

Hydraulic drives control the speed of planting.

Gauge wheels control the depth.

Palmer’s planter is 60 feet wide with 24 rows measuring 30 inches each.

Jundt estimated Palmer saved between $60,000 and $100,000 by purchasing the bare-boned Harvest International planter, even with the customized parts.

“This one is a standard planter. We could put a speed tube in it, but high speed in South Dakota up here — you know the Hansel and Gretel story where they left bread crumbs — well you go 10 mph with the rocks we’ve got and there’d be little parts left all over,” Jundt said.

The planter Palmer is putting together is a single hybrid, but Jundt said it could easily be converted to a multi-hybrid planter.

Palmer said the beauty of his planter is how there is no need to throw away any unwanted parts.

“Everyone throws away their gauge wheels and their spokes or whatever, and this one didn’t come with any. So we order what we want and put it on,” Palmer said.

Nick Uilk, ag systems technology instructor at South Dakota State University, said the planter is unique in that it allows farmers to customize their planters to be exactly what they want them to be.

“Planters are probably the most important tool on the farm and it determines the yield of the harvest. It kind of shows just how much technology has influenced ag,” Uilk said.

“Today, we know exactly where the seed was planted and how far down it is in the dirt,” he said.

Uilk said the Harvest International planter saves farmers who opt for custom parts from having to take off any unnecessary parts.

Customizing planters allows farmers to put their knowledge of their land and soil into their equipment.

“The potential of that seed is determined the day you put it into the ground. Having a better planter or planting ability results in increased yields,” Uilk said.

Jundt said farmers can order the planter bar for next year, but this particular item is no longer available for this year.

“They’re not making anymore for this spring. Next July is when you could get a new one,” Jundt said.

Palmer said his planter will be ready to go by the spring planting season.

Follow @smarvel_AAN on Twitter.

This Harvest International planter is being put together near Ipswich. It will be ready for the spring harvest season. Farm Forum photo by Elizabeth Varin
The Harvest International planter is easily customizable, according to Terry Jundt of T & R Planting Services. Farm Forum photo by Elizabeth Varin