Saturday, March 19, 2016
I got to ride along last spring as friend and neighbor Rick was planting soybeans. The field was big but so is the machinery and it's all very high tech. Would you like to see how it all works? Well then, hop aboard and come along for the ride. Its all a lot more crowded than the huge combine I rode last fall in the corn harvest but what the heck.
The Caterpillar tractor is pulling a sixteen row planter.
Inside the cab are numerous screens and controls, which give the scene a space age look. The tractor is guided by a GPS system which operates within a one inch tolerance. In the fall, the harvester will be guided within one inch of this springs planted rows. Thus Rick does not have to steer. He is watching the screens and controls very carefully. At the end of each row, as the tractor turns, the planter stops and restarts each row in sequence, so that there is no double planting of the "headlands." Whether seeds or chemicals, nothing is wasted which would add to costs and effect the bottom line.
An example of this attention to detail would be the "roller" which follows the plants. As the planter deposits and covers each individual seed, as small ridge is created on either side of the row. During the fall harvest this ridge could cause mechanical problems as dirt enters the equipment. Also, if the harvester is an inch or two higher than ground level at the plant, the bottom beans on the plant will be missed. Over hundreds of acres this could be the difference between profit and loss. The roller flattens the ridge.
A look out the back. As this field is finished, Rick rotates the planter to align it vertically with the tractor, so he can travel down a county road to the next field.
Thanks Rick! Work for you. Fun for us.