Drill Calibration

Planting season is finally here and it’s time to give our new drill a test run. But as much as we’d love to just hitch it up to the tractor and head for the fields, we need to calibrate it first.

For a drill we’ve never used before, this process is a little more time-consuming than usual. At the base of each hopper, where we load the seed, there are gears that lead into the individual tubes. These gears can be set to disperse a lot of seeds or just a few. We’re starting with peas, which are a larger seed. And while the drill manual has a list of settings by the type of seed, like any machine, new or old, it needs to be tested. That’s where the calibration comes in.

In the video, you’ll see that we’ve loaded the hopper with peas and attached bags at the ends of the tubes. These bags are meant to catch the seeds so that we can measure how much is being dispersed per tube. Using these measurements, we find the tube that’s dispersing the average seed for each hopper and align the gears to the desired setting for that tube. With that done, the drill is calibrated… for peas.

Each time we change seed, we will need to calibrate the drill. Thankfully, we won’t have to measure the seed dispersal for each tube, like we did this first time.  After determining the average seeding rate from each drill, we find a tube that is metering out that amount as close as possible.  We then use this tube as the average for the section to calibrate  that part of the drill. Calibrating a drill allows us to really fine-tune the planting accuracy for each crop, be it peas, wheat or alfalfa. The more accurate the drill, the better the yield come harvest time.

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