Kurt Dunker and his dad Richard were tired of losing nitrogen (N) with fall application and wanted to start spring-applying it at planting. That meant a whole lot of changes in how they planted, starting with a new 40-ft., 30-in-row planter they built in 2006.

“We built the frame and bought two 40-ft. toolbars,” says Dunker, who grows 2,000 acres of corn and soybeans at North Bend, NE. “We knew of a similar planter in Ohio built by Bruce Bishop and we got ideas from him plus some of our own.”

On the front 7 × 7-in. Orthman toolbar, the Dunkers mounted 16 used White planter units. Five feet behind that they mounted another 7 × 7-in. toolbar from an old International cultivator where they attached 16 used John Deere single-disk fertilizer openers.

“I used to be a draftsman and I drew up the design on my computer using AutoCAD,” Dunker says.

Directly behind the back toolbar, and still on the main frame, they mounted a 120-bu. Gandy seed box and behind that a 3,200-gal. poly liquid fertilizer tank for 32% N. That sits atop a special 14-ft.-long track undercarriage.

“We got on a pretty serious no-compaction kick a couple years ago and had big tires and tracks on everything,” Dunker says. “I think it's something that's beneficial,especially in no-till, and we're 75% no-till.

“We switched to a tracked tractor, too, because of the weight of the planter and the tanks. Due to the tracks we're not doing a lot of pounds per square inch,” Dunker says. “We're only running two tracks on 40 ft.” The tractor saddle tanks carry 1,000 gal. of 10-34-0 pop-up fertilizer.

THE REAR TANKS are mounted so they tilt up using a cylinder that's positioned to hinge where the rear toolbar and the frame meet. “It hinges about halfway back, right above the fertilizer bar,” Dunker says. “The back pivots on the axle of the tracks to get it to pick up level. If we'd have just lifted up with the three-point tractor hitch it wouldn't have had enough clearance for the row units.”

Road transport isn't a problem, either, even though the planter is 36 ft. long front to back. Dunker says it folds to the same width as an 8-row planter.

“Although it wasn't cheap to build, I don't think you could buy anything to compare it to,” he says. “Overall, it's worked well and it's done what we wanted it to do.”