David and Kenny Bense's wives didn't think much of the salvaged steel parts that the Hope, IN, farmers hauled home last year. “Some of the parts we had from previous projects and some we bought from salvage yards,” explains David, who farms with his dad, Kenny.

But after a winter in their shop, they rolled out a 30' narrow-row planter that looked factory fresh for about a fifth the cost.

The duo got more than a sense of satisfaction from their shop-built planter. “By building the planter, we were able to reduce our seed costs and save quite a bit of money,” the younger Bense says.

How? Bad spring weather had pushed planting behind. To finish planting in one of their last fields, they used their newly modified planter along with the drill they had used in past years to wrap things up. “The planted beans came up two to three days earlier and looked better all season long,” Bense notes. “We didn't take yield checks, but you could tell by the combine bin that the planted beans outyielded the drilled.”

The Benses started their project with a used, 40' front-fold planter bar that they cut down to 30'. To accommodate 15" row spacings, they added a second toolbar set back from the center of the planter so the planter units would clear the transport tires.

Twenty-three Case IH 900 row units bolt onto the modified bar on 15" centers. For better trash clearance, they built brackets from channel iron to extend every other row unit back 8". Yetter no-till coulters mounted on the front of the row units clear the path for no-till fields. Two ground-driven transmissions were bolted on each end of the planter bar to keep drive wheels off the planted rows.

Three 20-bu Case IH 800 seed modules provide 60-bu capacity for the planter. “We mounted the modules higher than normal so the hose wouldn't lay flat,” Bense says. “We get better seed flow that way and more accurate seed spacing.”

In addition to the modifications, the Benses bought all new chains, bearings and disks for their project. “We went completely through the planter, then painted it ourselves to make it look like new,” Bense says. In total, the father and son spent $16,000 for their no-till, narrow-row soybean planter.

Pulling double duty, the planter proved itself again when the Benses doublecropped beans behind wheat last year. “We no-tilled beans the last week in June and the field was just hard as a road,” says Bense. “We ended up harvesting 30-bu beans after 70-bu wheat.”

The only modification they intend for this season is to switch to flat-fold marker arms. “We have some fields where that will make it easier to get under trees along the field edge,” Bense says.