When the rains finally stopped in the Midwest this spring, corn farmers and marketers alike were concerned about planting delays making a dent in this year's much-anticipated corn crop.

As it turned out, farmers were able to cover a lot of ground when their fields finally dried out and planted about 3 million more acres than the 90 million USDA had been forecasting before the rains came.

Clearly, farmers aren't using their grandfathers' planters anymore. And one of the companies responsible for the gains in planting productivity in recent years is introducing a series of new planters aimed at helping producers plant corn and other crops faster and with more precision.

The latter, Kinze Manufacturing, Inc., recently unveiled its new 3600V Twin-Line Planters during the company's annual dealer meeting at its facilities just outside Williamsburg, Iowa.

The Model 3600V planters will be the first of a new wave of precision technology planters to be outfitted with the new Kinze Vision system, the electronic seed monitoring platform Kinze is developing with another Iowa-based company, Ag Leader Technology Inc. in Ames.

The Twin-Line Planters will be available in 12-row and 16-row sizes with mechanical or vacuum seed metering. They also come with Solid Row Interplant Packages that will allow producers to plant in the narrow-row spacings that have resulted in increased yields in the upper Midwest.

The new Kinze Vision planter control system utilizes a full-color, touch screen display to manage Kinze's electronic seed monitoring, plus an all-new variable-rate hydraulic drive system and air-actuated, single row clutches for manual or GPS auto-swath control.

“This gives farmers the tools and technology they need to make even better crop management decisions,” said Jon Kinzenbaw, Kinze's president.” At the same time, it will lower seed costs, reduce field time and maximize the yield potential of every seed they plant.”

In the Kinze Vision system, air-actuated, single row clutches are tied into each row unit for manual or GPS auto-swath control. The clutches allow the operator to turn the planter off and on in sections as small as two rows — either manually or automatically — as the planter enters a headland, crosses a waterway, or enters into pre-planted areas.

(Kinze representatives said the air clutches require low amounts of amperage to operate unlike the electric solenoids predominately used for point row sections. “There are fewer electrical power issues, so operators can control smaller sections and reduce over-planting,” one said.

“The potential savings in seed costs alone is significant,” says Dennis Whitehead, Kinze sales & marketing manager, “perhaps enough in just one year to cover the cost of the entire system.”

According to Whitehead, the biggest advantage is the convenience of changing seed population on the go. Kinze's electronic seed monitoring system tracks average seed population and seed spacing by row or by overall planter average, in real time and up to 36 rows simultaneously. In addition, growers are able to easily track planting operations by mapping and recording hybrids and varieties, including split-planter configurations with different hybrids.

In addition to the planting functionality, Kinze Vision will be imbedded with other easy-to-add Ag Leader Insight functions including dry and liquid product application and grain/cotton yield monitoring/mapping.

Current Ag Leader Insight owners will also be able to interface their KINZE planter with compatible seed sensors. (A hardware/software upgrade package is required from Ag Leader.)

3600V Twin-Line Planters feature double 5-inch × 7-inch toolbar frame construction with heavy-duty wing hinges and industrial-quality hydraulic cylinders. The four-row (12RN) and six row (16RN) wing sections are hinged to the four-row center section. The two wing sections can flex 7 degrees (up or down) and are hydraulically locked for transport using an over-center locking mechanism.

Optional, factory-installed 2-fold, low profile row markers are also available. Complete electric/hydraulic control of the row markers and folding/unfolding functions are handled right from the tractor seat.

The transport system features a rugged 7-inch × 7-inch stainless steel-clad center post that rotates on two large tapered bearings at its base. This allows the 3600V to fold in-line with transport widths as narrow as 11 feet 2 inches.

3600V Twin-Line Planters are available with mechanical or vacuum metering systems.