Planter Technology

Stuart Carlson, Northern Product Agronomist
February 2, 2021

Technology is changing today's planters faster than any other implement in farming.  But why shouldn’t it be?  The planter is the most important piece of equipment in your lineup!  If you don’t place that seed in the best possible position to grow and thrive all year long right from the start, you will not be able to achieve your yield goals for the year.  Technology that you can put onto your planter today will help you place seed more accurately, more efficiently and faster than ever before.

I would like to talk about a few of the newer technologies that improve your planting efficiency and potentially your ROI.


Will shut off seed drop as you move through areas that have already been planted.  This technology will save you in seed costs and it will also improve yields where overcrowding once occurred.  I have personally seen seed cost savings of up to 9% and yield improvements of over 50 bu/a.

Electric drive units: 

Eliminates the need for a lot of wear items such as chains, sprockets, bearings and a secondary row-shut-off.  Electric drive units also provide a more uniform seed spacing with curve compensation.

Downforce control: 

Has gone through several different changes over the last 15 years.  We have moved from static springs to adjustable tension springs, to air bag downforce, to air bags that automatically adjust downforce pressure across the planter in accordance to the changing ground conditions, to hydraulic downforce that will adjust instantly/automatically on each individual row in accordance to changing ground conditions.  No matter what the ground conditions are, this technology will improve consistent planting depth.

Speed seed tubes: 

A seed delivery system that takes the seed off the seed plate and delivers it to about 2 inches from the bottom of the seed trench, eliminating seed freefall and bounce.  This tube maintains seed spacing in many field conditions including planting speeds up to 10 MPH.  The way the speed tube is designed it also gives higher accuracy of seed count back to the planter monitor.

Faster planting speeds: 

With the use of the items above, planting speeds have over doubled while maintaining seed drop and seed depth accuracy.  A general rule of thumb is that standard deviation of 2 inches is acceptable for a traditional planter, planting at 5 MPH, will result in minimal yield impact on corn.  A study by ISU shows that a high-speed planter will have an improved standard deviation around 1.1 inches at 10 MPH.  ISU has also shown an improved seed survival rate in soybeans around 7%.

Updating and/or maintaining your planter can be expensive but should be considered because it is the most important piece of equipment to get your crop in the ground the best you possibly can.  Start by making sure your planter is maintained every year, it can be the most important decision you can make.  Every operation is different, and these improvements are not necessary to do all in one year.  Take a good look at these and start with the one that gives you the highest ROI.

Be sure to check out our website at for more information on planting the right seed for your operation.


  • Tom Bechman, Indiana Prairie Farmer, 5 hot trends in corn planter technology
  • Ryan Bergman, Integrated Crop Management, High Speed Planting Technology