The word “patience” doesn't exist in Greg Kreikemeier's vocabulary. He drives fast, walks fast and when he can't buy the equipment that suits him, he builds it himself.
That's why you won't find another planter like the one he built for the 2001 season. The West Point, NE, farmer started with a 60' Friesen toolbar and loaded it with 36 Case IH 1200 row units set on 20" centers.
“We've been on 20" rows for five years and have been very happy,” Kreikemeier says. “Roughly, 60-70% of our acres are now no-till. And I wanted to build a new planter that would do a better job in no-till under soil conditions that vary from heavy bottom ground to sand.”
In addition, he wanted to put down starter fertilizer with the seed and/or in a band beside it; broadcast or band herbicide; handle bulk seed of any size; and plant in any field condition at 5-8 mph. And, of course, monitor all functions with a single unit in the cab.
Let's just say this isn't the first piece of equipment that Kreikemeier has built.
Since the Case IH planter units are only available with seed boxes, Kreikemeier mounted a 120-bu-capacity Gandy air cart behind the planter so he could use bulk seed.
He built a carriage for the air unit out of 4 × 6" steel tubing that hinges up and down as he lifts and lowers the planter. No hydraulic power is required.
“I didn't want a four-wheel cart because I wanted to be able to back into the corners of fields,” he says. “We had to modify the manifolds so they could service 36 rows and adjust the air volume so each row unit receives the same amount of air flow.”
Rather than use the factory seed boxes, Kreikemeier built metal hoods that mount on top of each row unit. “All the row units run out at the same time, and cleanout is a lot easier with the units we built,” he says.
A 20-hp Honda motor powers the Gandy unit. “We ran out of hydraulics so we used a gas motor instead. It's wired so when we turn on the flashers, it automatically shuts off the engine. The only change we'll make for next year is to add a bigger air cleaner to reduce maintenance,” he explains.
Trash wheels mounted in front of row units cleared the path a little too much for Kreikemeier's liking in 2001, so he may not use them this year. “You can run into trouble using residue managers with narrow rows,” he adds. “We've had a few issues when the residue is damp. On soybeans and all our no-till, we plant at an angle to the old row and have a lot fewer problems with trash.”
Kreikemeier has a smorgasbord of options for applying fertilizer and herbicide to corn and soybeans. “I've got a 1,000-gallon tank on the front of the tractor and a 750-gallon tank on the planter. They're both powered with hydraulic pumps and they're plumbed so I can use either one for fertilizer or herbicide,” he says.
Banded fertilizer goes on through a single disk injector that replaces one of the original closing disks on each planter unit. In-furrow applications are made through a stainless steel tube mounted inside the steel tube that carries the rear closing disks.
“Originally, we tried putting the in-furrow fertilizer on ahead of the seed so it would be under the seed,” Kreikemeier says. “But we got too much fertilizer build up on the equipment.”
Adjustable brackets allow Kreikemeier to band or broadcast herbicide. “I've used both tanks for all the different options, depending on the crop and what kind of field we're planting into,” he says.
The Nebraskan will use an experimental Big John monitor this spring that will give him even more flexibility. The flip of a switch will let him choose from five different seed populations, fertilizer rates and herbicide rates.
With 3,500 of his own acres, plus another 2,500 custom-farmed, Kreikemeier gets plenty of opportunity to use his planter's flexibility. And there's an emphasis on speed to get everything in on time. He averages 400 planted acres a day; on a long day he plants up to 700.
“We knock in soybeans pretty fast, too. We'll plant at 8 mph if conditions allow it,” he says. “We plant a lot of corn at 6½-7 mph. We had problems in a couple of fields, but we were learning how to maintain the planter, not the planting speed. Once we realized we needed to run graphite with the seed, we were fine.”