Proper calibration of the potato planter is essential to obtain uniform plant stands.
A planter that is properly adjusted, maintained and operated will ensure accurate placement of fertilizer and seed pieces. The equipment dealer may provide initial predelivery setup, however the grower must review the operator's manual and completely understand and frequently check the calibration and adjustments. The following is a check list of the most crucial steps to be considered when preparing the planter for field operations:
- Check tractor and planter hook-up and levelling of the planter; ballast may be required to reduce tractor wheel slippage.
- Adjust plows and fertilizer opening disks to obtain proper fertilizer placement and seed coverage. Check for and replace worn parts.
- Check the fertilizer metering system for leaks, wear, obstructions and equal flow of fertilizer to each down spout.
- Check the hopper, seed chutes and spouts for sharp edges, obstructions (ie. bolt heads, microgranular tubes), and holes. Proper alignment and securing of the hoppers to the frame will ensure clearance for seed delivery on hill sides.
- Check adjustment of the seed pickup mechanism and check seed spacing after sprocket changes.
--Picker arm type units require inspection for rivet wear, failed cam bearings, uniform spring tension, pick length, cam wear, alignment and adjustment and cross shaft bearings. These components should be checked for unrestricted operation. Refer to the operator's manual for adjustment of seed pick up and release points.
--Cup type units require inspection of cup inserts, chain linkage wear and wear strip condition. Check agitator for unnecessary chain vibration and seed chutes for obstructions.
- Check belts, chains and sprockets for excessive wear. Adjust and lubricate as recommended by the manufacturer.
- Clean the planter thoroughly, removing all soil and seed pieces and disinfect the unit.
FIELD OPERATION AND CALIBRATION
Planter performance is affected by a number of variables such as seed size, shape and quality (refer to section on seed cutting); planter set up, maintenance and calibration; soil preparation; level of seed in the pickup area and planting speed.
Monitoring field performance requires close examination of the planter while operating in the field. Uncovering sections of rows at random to check seed and fertilizer placement will provide valuable information on planter performance