Ditching with Surface Water Pro and iGrade by John Deere

by Lucas Benning, Vandalia, IL 

I got the chance to ride with a customer who is running John Deere Surface Water Pro and iGrade with a Wolverine ditcher pulled by a JD 8430 tractor with SF3000 receivers and Sloan Implement RTK network.  With the recent dry weather we are making ditches to drain the wet holes that have been hard to get rid of the past couple of springs. It amazed me how far the dirt was being thrown from the ditcher (in excess of 40 yards).   After the initial setup, we were able to use Surface Water Pro by surveying our ditch track and recording the elevation every 5 feet.  We then entered our min/max slope and our min/max cut by using the best fit option and then generated a ditch track.   Surface Water Pro shows us how much dirt we are expecting to move and a side profile view so we know how close we are to our desired cut.  Then iGrade takes over and automatically lowers the ditcher and raises it to make the desired slope and depth of the cut. After we are done with the pass we feathered out the sides manually and make one last pass through the middle to clean it up. Then it’s on to the next one.   If you have any questions on Surface Water Pro or iGrade please give me a call at the Vandalia, IL location of Sloan Implement phone 618 283 4305

40 Yards of Dirt

Dirt Flying from the Ditcher

Sloan Support is written by the product support team at Sloan Implement, a 20 location John Deere dealer in Illinois and Wisconsin.   Learn more at www.sloans.com


Planting Cover Crops with a Valmar Seeder and Vertical Tillage Tool

by Lucas Benning, Vandalia, IL 

Things in Southern Illinois, as with the rest of the state, continue to be very wet. I have heard of combines and grain carts getting stuck, but nothing major. Yields continue to be very good for our area. Most guys are planning on a 200 bu/a corn average and hopefully 50bu/a for soybeans. The recent rains have made the double crop beans in the area look very good and I wouldn’t be surprised to see some double crop fields beat some of the early planted beans that didn’t receive rain in July and August.

One thing starting to make an impact in our area is cover cropping.  Guys are seeing cleaner fields in the spring that are free from weeds, and in the process they are boosting organic matter in the soil. Currently there aren’t many options for planting your cover crops.  You can fly it on with an airplane or you can make 2 passes, first with the tillage tool and next with the seeder. Cost is a concern for both of these methods.  Broadcasting during fertilizer application is an option, but stand quality can be an issue because of poor seed to soil contact.

Valmar has created a seeder that combines many of these methods and it can be operated and recorded with a John Deere GS3 2630 or 2600 display.  A Valmar seeder is a bulk bin with a set of rollers and a fan that blows the seed through tubes, similar to a John Deere air seeder, but much more compact. These bins are universal and can be mounted to anything.

mcfarlane cover crop seeder 003

Valmar Seeder on a McFarlane Reel Disk

The seed tubes run directly in front of the rolling basket harrow so the seed can get the proper seed to soil contact.

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The Valmar is either ground or hydraulically driven.   I think the hydraulic drive is the better option since the ground drive wheel seems flimsy and the chain is prone to jumping off.  In order to run the system with a JD GS 2600 or 2630 display you must have the hydraulic drive option as well as a John Deere Dry Rate Controller.  Ag Express has a wiring harness that plugs into Deere’s 37-pin rate controller as well as the PWM valve and the speed sensor on the seeder. It is controlled through a GS 2600/2630 display similar to an air seeder and uses a PWM valve as a controller. You then add your calibration factors and start to calibrate the PWM valve and then do a CFR drop test.  The drop test is where you enter your bulk density of product, test speed, test rate, desired weight, and expected CFR. The expected CFR can be approximated because after doing the test the monitor will give you the weight it thought it dropped and you have to enter the actual weight and it will adjust the CFR accordingly. We had to do the drop test a few times in order to get it dialed in, but we also started with an expected CFR that was way off and had to narrow it down from there. After that everything should be set and ready to run.

The Valmar seeder solves the expense of a plane and the wasted fuel with 2 passes. It also helps with the seed to soil contact issue with broadcasting with fertilizer.

If you have any question about this setup get a hold of your local AMS Specialist or salesman for more information.

mcfarlane cover crop seeder 002


Southern IL Wheat and John Deere iGrade with Scraper and RTK

by Lucas Benning, Vandalia, IL

Wheat harvest has started in southern Illinois with a few guys getting started before the rain hit yesterday. Wheat this year is tough and is going to be hard threshing with some green spots still in the fields, but moisture and yield looking good. The field that I was in on Monday was testing 14% moisture and 80-90 bushels per acre for yield. Luckily we were able to receive a little rain yesterday. Two tenths to an inch in most areas will definitely help the corn and beans since we were starting to see a few cracks starting to show up in the ground.

I got the chance the other day to help get a customer started and play around with a 9510R and dual pan scrapers that is setup with iGrade. There are multiple modes within iGrade, but the 2 that we use are Plane Control for scrapers and Remote Control for ditchers. Using Plane Control with a function called Plane Calculator you can survey the area and it will give you a recommended slope and you can either accept it or change the slope. With the function One Slope you can set your desired slope and it will pitch it in the direction you tell it. You can also run Dual Slope where it will pitch it into a desired corner. All this is done by GPS and the scraper is controlled automatically with the addition of the application controller. RTK is a must with this system and it is recommended to be within 1 mile of the base station. If you are interested in what we may be able to do for you with a set up like this contact your local AMS specialist.  The setup below has only one receiver on the first pan and the operator has to control the second one manually. We can also set it up where both are controlled automatically.

I Grade 9510R

New Fillmore, IL RTK Base Station

by Lucas Benning, Vandalia, IL

Things are just starting to get rolling again south of I-70. We had 2-3 inches of rain from Tuesday through Friday last week.  Things were pretty saturated and cool weather didn’t help things dry out very quickly. I was able to get up one more RTK base station in Fillmore. With the help of Troy Pinkston from Assumption on top of the leg and Joey Stewart from Vandalia down on the ground tying things off for us. Even though it was plenty windy that day we were able to get everything up and running. We should be able to get some guys started on RTK before the planting season is done. Still have a few more dead areas down here that we are trying to get base stations up, but need to find appropriate structures in those locations first. Here’s the view from atop the Fillmore base:

Fillmore RTK Base Station

You can see maps of Sloan’s RTK coverage in Illinois here and our coverage in Wisconsin here.

Vandalia, IL planting progress, AutoTrac, & Fertilizer Corrosion

by Lucas Benning, Vandalia, IL

Southern Illinois continues to get hit with rain showers. Not much has happened in the past week. We had customers in  the Greenville area that only got a tenth of an inch of rain, areas around Farina that got an inch and a half, and everywhere in between. We have some guys starting beans but not too many, mostly the customers that have 2 planters are the ones planting beans. Looks like we will have some replant to do in certain areas. Most corn that is out of the ground is around the V3 stage or smaller. Cool, wet weather the rest of this week will not make things any better.

I got a couple reports back from customers that were using Autotrac for the first time this year. All reported that they didn’t know how they went this long without it and loved it so far.

Had two main issues this past week. First one was on a 8330 tractor and 1790 planter that I installed Autotrac on for the first time. It was randomly kicking out the Autotrac. After looking at the exit code that said wheel speed too high, I started watching the corner post and it would be running fine for a couple rounds and all of the sudden it would jump to 30, 40, or even 50 MPH. Did some checking and found a code for “wheel speed sensor mismatch” and then checked the address for that wheel speed sensor and found out it wasn’t reading anything. Put a new one on it and things have ran great for about 400 acres. With the speed, the customer was also getting lower population and has been fighting it for 2 years now. Will keep posted if problem arises again.

Second issue was on a 1770 24 row planter being pulled by a blue tractor that was constantly planting really low on rows 11 and 12, and the height switch was working erratically. the planter had Precision 20/20 and air force row cleaners, with liquid fertilizer. After checking the drive cables, chains, bearings, and checking for holes in the vacuum hoses, we found that when the planter was unfolded, the hoses were laying between the vacuum coupler for the wing and main frame. The height switch was corroded  from the fertilizer that was leaking everywhere. Always keep in mind most fertilizer is corrosive so if you have any intermittent electrical issues always check places where a connector may have come into contact with the fertilizer.

Planter Chains, Low EPM Voltage, & GS 2630

by Lucas Benning, Vandalia, IL

Things have been picking up down here south of I-70. After the beating of rain we had (some reported 4 inches), we are starting to get back and rolling. Some guys have started in beans and some haven’t even started corn yet, so we have a wide area of things happening.

Have seen a few issues this past week. We had one planter here in the shop that the hydraulic motors would kick out all the time. Put the test harness on it, ran it, and narrowed it down to some tight drive chains. Replaced all the row unit chains and the hydraulic motor drive chains and received a call from the customer earlier saying everything was working perfectly. One thing to make sure of is to lube the chains and use John Deere Multi-purpose lube. It is not sticky and doesn’t attract dust like the John Deere Chain and Cable Lube does.

One other issue is on 2014 planters it will flash a warning, “low EPM voltage,” while the tractor is running.  Dtac case 98937 covers this, basically they hooked the connectors up wrong at the factory and we need to switch them around. Had one issue of this but figured there may be a few more.

Setup issues continue to be a problem on planter clutches. Cannot stress enough to check and recheck the measurements of the machine and implement. This will save a lot of head scratching time.

Have seen some issues with GS3 screens stalling out when they load up. The progress bar stops about ¼ of the way across. DTAC solution number 94862 addresses this and says to unplug the display for 30 seconds which is longer than we normally do. Plug it back in and try to reboot it. the next step is to do a field reprogram on the display. I haven’t had to do the field reprogram, the 30 second shut down has fixed the few that I have had.