Planter caddy

A new Planter Caddy from Schlagel Manufacturing allows a grower to attach a planter to a zone tillage machine for fast field work. The caddy carries the tillage machine by the main bar and the planter by a quick-attach bolted to the planter's frame. This design keeps the tillage equipment and planter in perfect alignment, according to Schlagel. The planter moves up and down independently of the front implement. Large tanks and pumps for fertilizer may be mounted to the caddy.

Retail price: $19,500. Contact Schlagel Mfg., Dept. FIN, Rt. 1, Box 155C, Torrington, WY 82240, 888/889-1504, visit www.freeproductinfo.net/fin.

Farmall comeback

Case IH will reintroduce the Farmall name on a new line of compact tractors later this year. The new DX series tractors will range from 18 to 55 hp.

In production from 1923 to 1974, the Farmall name won a reputation for reliable row-crop production. Jim Irwin, vice president of the Case IH North American agricultural business, says the new Farmalls are designed “to meet the needs of homeowners, contractors, landscapers, farmers and other customers who demand flexibility, utility, simplicity and comfort.”

Available attachments will include front and rear snowblowers, loaders, front blades, mid-mount and belly mount mowers, and backhoes.

Split-row planter

Case IH has added new 12/23 and 16/31 split-row configurations to its 1200 series Advanced Seed Meter (ASM) planter. The planters are designed for corn and soybean farmers who rotate between 30- and 15-in. rows. The company says the 1200 will continue offering a central-fill option with twin 40-bu. tanks. The ASM design features an 11.8-in.-dia. seed disc that rotates slowly for improved accuracy at higher field speeds.

Contact Case Corp., 700 State St., Racine, WI 53404, 262/636-5678, visit www.caseih.com or www.freeproductinfo.net/fin.

Irrigation track packer

You don't have to be big to be innovative. Nebraska farmer Dan Gillespie designed and sells the TracPacker, a tractor-mounted unit that fills and packs irrigation pivot tracks in one pass.

The patented machine's disc gangs move and feather the displaced soil back into the track where it is packed twice into the bottom of the track. This function gets more soil packed back into the track and allows the refilled track to remain more stable and shallow during the irrigation season. The TracPacker has been proven on more than 45,000 acres, according to Gillespie.

Suggested retail price: $3,500 to $4,000. Contact Gillespie at TracPacker, Dept. FIN, 83370 539 Ave., Meadow Grove, NE 68752, 402/634-2484, visit www.tracpacker.com or www.freeproductinfo.net/fin.

GPS checks machine efficiency

GPS and other precision ag equipment not only can help make growers more efficient crop producers, but they also can help make them smarter buyers, says Randy Taylor, Kansas State University Extension ag engineer.

Checking efficiency

“Precision ag technologies collect data that will help you to analyze how efficiently your current equipment allows you to perform field functions,” Taylor says. “Before these systems, the best you could do was to use a stopwatch and log your time and yields in a notebook. All GPS equipment has a time stamp feature, which allows you to view productivity details on each field.”

Last season, Taylor looked at efficiency measurements for planting, including time, date, speed, and field size and shape. He also looked at harvesting measurements, including time, date, speed, yield and field size, in several northeastern Kansas fields. Although he says he didn't find anything too surprising, he did prove that GPS systems can provide all the data you need to monitor equipment efficiency. “What improves field efficiency numbers is long, straight rows, and we've always known that,” Taylor says. “But now we can quantify it.”

Planter size decisions

He found that increasing planter size will make an operation more productive but less efficient. A grower can do more work with two 8-row planters than one 16-row model, he notes.

“Also, field size has little impact on field efficiency, whereas planting patterns can greatly affect efficiency,” Taylor says. “Traffic patterns are dictated by field shape, and although we can now do a better job of managing them in odd-shaped fields by shutting off rows, it's hard to really optimize your traffic patterns in those fields. They just cost you more to farm than nice, rectangular fields.”

On-the-go unloading

Taylor also has taken a shot at quantifying harvesttime losses by tracking yield collected over a set amount of time when stopping to unload as well as unloading on the go. Although most people would expect to see a significant time savings by unloading on the go, the ag engineer says he didn't find it in the Kansas wheat fields where he tracked his yield data.

“We were tracking fields with lower yields; harvest efficiencies would probably increase with larger yields,” he concedes. “But unloading on the go might not save as much time as many farmers think. Either way, now GPS can help individual farmers track these things in their fields and find out for themselves.”