Some shop-built ideas start on a café napkin. Leroy Peters' 6-row corn and soybean planter literally came to life on a blank sheet of paper. “I wanted to build the perfect ridge-till planter,” says the Coldwater, OH, farmer.

With his own ridge-till experience, an engineering degree from Purdue and a career in manufacturing, Peters certainly has the credentials. But, his first step was to contact other ridge-till farmers to ask them what they thought the “perfect” planter would include.

The result is a 6-row, 30" planter that can place both starter and pop-up fertilizer, adjust seed population hydraulically on-the-go and can plant in conventional, no-till or ridge-till conditions.

“I wanted to go with a 3-point mounted planter because it follows the ridge better. And, I wanted to use White planter units because I've always liked their accuracy,” he says. Peters mounted planter units on a toolbar from a split-row planter he'd built previously.

Unlike manufactured planters he's used in the past, Peters didn't design lift-assist wheels on the new planter. “That created a real time savings,” he says. “You don't have to wait for the lift-assist wheels to operate at the end of the row. That may not seem like a lot, but by the end of the week you can really tell the difference in the number of acres you get planted.”

Two, 200-gallon saddle tanks on his tractor supply a ground-driven squeeze pump. It applies 18 gallons/acre of 28% liquid nitrogen plus one gallon of sulfur through a double-disk fertilizer unit mounted on the front of each planter unit. Peters also adds 5 gallons per acre of 9-18-9 pop-up fertilizer with one pint of zinc over the seed.

An electric pump moves pop-up fertilizer from two, 50-gallon tanks mounted on the planter to the back of seed firmers he added to the planter units. Peters deep bands P and K in ridges in the fall and applies N at planting and at layby. All fertilizer is applied to the corn; soybeans use the residual the following year.

“I bought a Rawson hydraulic unit so I can adjust populations easily when I switch from corn to soybeans,” he says. “It also makes planter calibration in the shop a lot easier.”

Peters mounted metal-finger trash wheels in front of the starter fertilizer row units. “I was concerned about the amount of load that might create, but it hasn't been a problem,” he says.

In fact, there haven't been any problems at all with Peters' shop-built planter. “These trash wheels remove a lot less of the ridge than the units on my previous planter,” he says. “I don't have to rebuild ridges nearly as much as I used to.”

And, the planter created the spacing and emergence Peters hoped he'd get from customizing the planter. “The crops just popped out of the ground,” he says.