Racine manufacturer seeks to gain a competitive edge in the precision planting market.

Case IH made a splash in June when it announced a supply agreement with Great Plains Manufacturing, to produce twin-row planters for the world’s second largest farm equipment maker.

The venture is Case IH’s first foray into precision twin-row planting and company officials say it will give their equipment dealers a foothold in a growing market.

“Our offerings, in terms of the number of models and configurations, are twice as many as our top two competitors combined,” says Bill Hoeg, planter sales & marketing manager for Case IH North America. “We see it as making our dealers very competitive and better able to meet customer needs when it comes to a specific application like twin-row planters.”

The twin-row technology developed by Great Plains involves precisely staggering seed in two rows, 8 inches apart, on 30-inch, 38-inch or 40-inch centers to maximize sunlight and allow growers to increase populations per acre. Precise seed placement is absolutely essential to getting maximum benefit from a twin-row planter.

A primary benefit if the twin-row technology is an increased area for root growth and moisture gathering, according to Great Plains, from 14.4% on single 30-inch rows to 44.5% on twin-row at 38,000 seed population.

A 40-foot unit with precision features like down pressure control, Case IH Advanced Farming Systems (AFS) AccuRow controller and row shut-off will retail for about $212,000. By February 1, 2013, Hoeg says the twin-row units should be shipped to dealers.

But in order to distinguish itself in a twin-row planter market where John Deere and Kinze are emerging players, Hoeg says, Case IH is accentuating its support and service — to include its AFS support center that launched this spring.

Those points were emphasized at the company’s media event on August 9. Company officials removed any confusion as to where dealers or customers can look for support of the twin-row technology.

“We source the product  and technology from Great Plains, but it will be sold, it will be serviced and parts will be supplied by Case IH,” says Bill Preller, senior director, specialty business for Case IH North America. “So it’s in our system.”

The fact that the twin-row planters are backed by Case IH’s support network is designed to give dealers confidence in selling the product, Preller says.

Part of that equation involves training by Case IH to get dealers up to speed on the twin-row technology, which will be integrated with Case IH’s AFS Pro 700 Display.

Prior to getting the twin-row planters on their lots, dealers need to complete standard service training and stock the necessary parts to service the equipment.

“Will every dealer have that training the first year?,” Hoeg says. “No. Only the ones that got the machine, but they are the ones that need it. As more dealers get it, they will go through the same requirement.”

But once Case dealers begin selling the twin-row technology, Hoeg says it’s critical that they have the backing of their manufacturer, especially in a situation where the product is being supplied by another entity — in this case — Great Plains.

At the same time, Hoeg acknowledges that Case IH is also in a unique position of providing service and support for a product they didn’t develop.

“They (Great Plains) are building the product and we’re stepping to the plate and saying, “We’re going to give you all the support any of our other products get’,” Hoeg says. “We have some pretty high level dealership organizations looking to capitalize and guys whose living depends on this equipment, so we need to make sure support is being provided by people who can help them do that.”