Dean Ellermeier has probably never met a piece of equipment that he didn't want to change to better suit his purposes.

His welding skills and a bent for finding a use for everything transformed several old John Deere 7000 planters into his 19-row planter on 15-in. row spacing for planting no-till soybeans. He planted beans with it for the fifth year last spring.

Although he plants corn and some soybeans with a 30-in.-row planter, he puts in most of his soybeans with the 15-in.-row planter he built. He sees no clear-cut soybean yield difference between 15- and 30-in. rows, with seeding rate at 170,000 and 150,000/acre, respectively. But, he likes the 15-in. spacing for erosion control on his rolling land, some of it with sandy soils, north of Scribner, NE. He no-tills into both cornstalk and bean stubble.

The double-toolbar planter carries 10-row units mounted on 30-in. centers on the front bar and nine-row units on 30-in. centers on the back bar. Row units on the back bar are aligned in between the front row units for a 15-in. row spacing.

The front bar of the double-toolbar planter is from the main-frame of a used eight-row John Deere 7000 planter. The back bar is fabricated from planter boxes and toolbars from three used four-row John Deere 7000 planters.

He cut one of the four-row planter toolbars into two and spliced each half at either end of the other four-row toolbar. At each joint inside this spliced toolbar, Ellermeier welded plates of the same thickness as that of the toolbar for double-walled strength at the joints.

The 90-lb. down pressure spring on a regular John Deere 7000 row unit was replaced with a pair of down-pressure springs for 180 lbs./row unit.

The front-row planter boxes are driven off the regular John Deere planter transmission, while the back boxes are driven off the fertilizer unit transmission.

Next, he added two lift wheels in front to handle the extra weight. “We took advantage of what John Deere gave us,” Ellermeier says, in explaining the mounting location for the lift wheels.

He added transport wheels for end-to-end transport down the road, an important feature for his widely scattered fields. “I do a lot of road work,” he says, estimating that he racks up about 1,000 miles a season transporting equipment from one field to another while staying within 13 miles of home.

He cut off the frame that used to link the transport wheels and replaced it with a frame that bridges over the top of the double-toolbar planter to connect the transport wheels.

Planter markers also got a makeover. “We trashed everything and started new,” Ellermeier says. The original markers, when in the raised position, leaned outward. They were always catching along fencerows, he says. He replaced those with markers that he built to fold over the planter.

He did that by hinging the markers at the top of the toolbar, rather than the bottom, and moving the lift cylinder from its original position inside the toolbar to the top of the toolbar. By doing this, the marker folds inboard, over the planter and out of the way of trees, fences and other obstacles.