Multi-hybrid models and enhanced row units for high-speed planting provide benefits and challenges for precision dealers.

At this year’s National Farm Machinery Show in Louisville, Ky., new planting technology took center stage, with several manufacturers showcasing precision innovations.

Although some products are still in the test phase, manufacturers spoke about the sales potential for dealers, based on the researched return on investment.

Among the equipment generating buzz was John Deere’s ExactEmerge row units, which promise accurate planting depth and spacing at speeds up to 10 mph, working in conjunction with the company’s new SeedStar Mobile to access real-time planting data.

The row units are compatible with the Deere’s 1775NT and 1795 model planters in 15-, 20- and 30-inch row spacings for corn and soybeans.

“Singulate and soybeans aren’t terms you often hear together, because a traditional row unit has a seed tube and with this system,” says Kelby Krueger, planter product specialist with John Deere. “We have a unique brush-belt system that allows customers to lower populations by perhaps as much as 20,000 seeds per acre, meaning less fill time and lower seed costs.”

This will be a key selling point for dealers, he adds, given that the there is increasing industry emphasis on maximizing the potential and performance of seeds, aided by precision technology. Deere officials say they will reveal a price for the new planter systems when the early order program begins in June, with the systems available for the 2015 planting season.

One precision ag manager told Precision Farming Dealer at the show that Deere’s technology could be a “game changer” in terms of simplifying planting for farmers and providing a more complete planting package. However, not being a Deere dealer, he predicted that the systems could negatively impact aftermarket sales of their precision planter kits.

“Good for Deere customers, but probably not so good for us because of the business we do serving that market,” the precision ag manager says.

Also discussed at the show were Kinze Manufacturing’s multi-hybrid concept planters. The company recently partnered with Raven Industries and Beck’s Hybrids to develop the technology and will have 6 concept planters in the field this spring, according to Rhett Schildroth, product manager with Kinze.

Beck’s began its own multi-hybrid designs prior to forming the partnership and on-farm trials revealed an average increase of 9.5 bushels per acre in corn, which translated to profit of $54.24 per acre. Once the multi-hybrid systems are commercialized on Kinze’s 4900 series planters, Schildroth sees two-pronged approach for dealer distribution — those that focus on the equipment side and those that also offer precision farming services.

“Not every dealer is invested in technology, data management or agronomic service. As far as the Kinze side, both will be welcome to sell the technology,” he says. “If a farmer buys from a dealership that doesn’t have that precision service, the farmer will need to find it somewhere else.”