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The effect of proper down force with AG Leader’s SureForce

There are many things to keep in mind during spring planting, often making it difficult to prioritise. The trick is to stick to the basics. Utilise proper soil conditions, crop residue control and correct planting depth. These are all parts of the foundation to achieve a successful year.

One of the keys to a successful planting season is maintaining proper pressure on each row unit. Hydraulic downforce systems have been on the market for quite some time, and the benefit is widely realised across the agriculture industry. That’s why Ag Leader recently announced a new hydraulic uplift and down force system, SureForce. Planting a field at the correct depth allows the seed to germinate, establishes a good root base and achieves an even stand across the field.

Proper planting depth every time

The SureForce system controls and adjusts pressure instantaneously based on field typography and soil conditions, giving you proper planting depth every time, regardless of field conditions. Weight on the gauge wheels is sensed at every row where a sensor has been installed. The gauge wheel sensors are the ‘eyes’ of the down force system.

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Planting a field at the correct depth allows the seed to germinate, establishes a good root base and achieves an even stand across the field. - Photos: Ag leader
Planting a field at the correct depth allows the seed to germinate, establishes a good root base and achieves an even stand across the field. - Photos: Ag leader

Next, the system determines if the force to each row needs to be adjusted. Adjustments are made hydraulically, which allows for almost instantaneous adjustments to down force and uplift. When the weight of the row unit is more than enough to achieve target depth, hydraulic uplift will limit over compaction of the seed trench and act to dampen the row unit ride in low applied down force portions of the field. Row units will not bounce, providing optimum meter performance and consistent depth.

Adapting to different soil conditions

Uplift may be needed in very sandy soils, soils with clay content that are being planted during marginal conditions, convention tillage, and shallower planting for crops such as soybeans, cotton, or grain sorghum. Farmers planting into wet soils with high clay content often run into sidewall compaction if there is too much force applied. In this situation, uplift brings relief to those seed trenches, better seed-to-soil contact, and encourages healthy root development.

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  • The Ag Leader solution offers proper planting depth every time.

    The Ag Leader solution offers proper planting depth every time.

  • The real-time display indicates changes in down force and uplift requirements.

    The real-time display indicates changes in down force and uplift requirements.

An additional 50 pounds (22.5 kg) of down force is helpful when planting into a no-till or cover crop environment. The ability to apply up to 650 pounds (295 kg) with SureForce allows the seed to be placed at a comfortable depth for germinating and setting down good roots. A fundamental step in a successful planting season is to maintain good down pressure management, which is a critical aspect of operating a planter well. In many cases, growers are looking to either minimise the impact of soil variability or take the risk out of determining the right pressure, this solution does both.

Real-time display

Real-time adjustments to down force can be viewed on the InCommand 1200 display and indicate changes in down force or uplift requirements. The display is also where changes to the system can be made. While the system is designed to adjust force automatically, the grower can indicate if lower than normal down force is desired, due to wet planting conditions, for example.

SureForce is just one piece of Ag Leader’s SeedCommand line of top-notch planting products. Ask your Ag Leader dealer how SureDrive electric drives can help with turn compensation and singulation across your farm, and how InCommand displays open a window into your planter.

Benefits of the SureForce system

  • Consistent planting depth: Get consistent, proper planting depth no matter the soil type.
  • Automatic response time: Hydraulic systems react instantly, unlike air bag systems that can take up to 20 seconds or more to respond.
  • Sidewall compaction: Minimal sidewall compaction when soils are wet. Sidewall compaction can cause poor germination and uneven emergence.
  • Row-by-row control: With row-by-row sensing and control available, apply variable pressure across changing spots in the field or where more compaction is present, like wheel tracks.
  • Uplift: Hydraulic Uplift for use in heavy tilled or sandy soils.