Verified FBN Member (MN)
Machinery

Is hydraulic down force worth it?

We're looking at ordering a new corn planter for next year. Deere wants another $30k for the active hydraulic down force system. I've never heard anything bad about it but that additional 30k is a tough one to swallow. What are everyone else's experiences? Any help is appreciated.

Verified FBN Member (SD)

Data I’ve see says yes it pays, don’t have it in current planter but it’s on the wishlist, can really see the need for it in variable NT soils

In conventionally tilled souls I’m not so sure it’s an expense that will pencil out, but if your goal is to have the best corn possible does it need to?

Verified FBN Member (MN)

In my opinion, yes, it always needs to pencil out! I love having good yielding corn, but more importantly I love seeing an ROI! I'm more of a bottom line guy, so I don't need to win the yield race if I can cash flow better with less bushels. We're also 100% conventional till currently. The conventional till neighbors love it, but it's about impossible to put a real value on in my mind. I wonder how much additional resale it holds?

Verified FBN Member (IA)

Does it need to..?? Are you the guy sitting down with the lender at the end of each farming season..?? 🤪🤪

Verified FBN Member (SD)

The point I was trying to make was does it need to have an absolute defined payback? If you expect that put your money in bonds. That one year planting into challenging conditions may return 10x your downforce investment.

Verified FBN Member (WI)

You mean like this year lol

Verified FBN Member (IA)

We've had it for several years and it has been a great experience for us. When we put it on, at the time we weren't looking at ROI as closely as we are now, but I've no doubt they've paid for themselves. We are conventional till as well, and at times hit 2-4 different soil types in a single pass thru the field. That consistency in depth and emergence is what I'm looking for, and the delta force system has helped tremendously with that. Certainly not for everyone and every situation, but it certainly has been positive for us. Best of luck.

Verified FBN Member (IL)

First we had it and sure helped planting in the muddy conditions we had all spring!

Verified FBN Member (IA)

We run it on our planter, and we can see a difference that it makes.

Verified FBN Member (MN)

First year with precision system. The more challenging the conditions, the more it shines. Wouldn’t buy a new planter without

Verified FBN Member (NE)

I think *** (MN) nailed it regarding challenging conditions. 2020 will be our first year with it; also first year with bulk fill and I'm planning on it "erasing" my center weight concern.

Spending time and attention on the 2019 stand has shown me it "shoulda/woulda" made a difference this year.

My salesman always reminds me that it's not $30,000 all in one year... LOL.

Verified FBN Member (MN)

Lol, those sales people know just how to word it!!

Verified FBN Member (OK)

I’ve never had it and do just fine, but I’m also planting into a nice mellow uniform strip with little to no variation in soil... I just set double springs and send it.

Verified FBN Member (NE)

I have had an Ag Leader system on my Deere planter for 4 years. The first year I did some random block strip trials and the strip we let it run in auto mode beat the worst static manual strip by 8-10 bu. It's not always the lack of down force but can also be the over use. Especially in notill beans. Being able to see the load on the gauge wheels is a huge benefit. Really let's you know what conditions are like in that field. My system was around 16-18k at the time but still a tough financial decision.

Verified FBN Member (MN)

We would not go back to air. With our variable soils, average downforce across the planter ends up being wrong a lot. We run the precision system and are conventional till. We see the system lifting up on the row unit in most cases on our planter that runs at normal speed. For high speed planting it is a must.

Verified FBN Member (IA)

talked to my neighbors that have been running it for 3 years they said if there is one thing to change about the planter its the hydro down force. this is our first year the yield monitor will tell the rest.

Verified FBN Member (MS)

We run a planter with it and one without. This year we will see what story the yield monitor tells us. The Delta force plants super nice.

Verified FBN Member

Anyone have experience with planter-wide active air bag systems? Any comparison to hydraulic?

Verified FBN Member (IL)
(edited)

If you’re in a tillage environment air control is adequate. As you move to more challenging situations like notil or strip till hyd benefits grow

Verified FBN Member (MN)

We have been running the precision planter wide airbag system with automatic up-and-down on a large old planter. Not interesting in adding dollars to the old machine. We compare it against a new planter added last year with delta force from precision. It’s like a lot of technology . the old was good when it was here, but the new is definitely better. The response time on the hydraulic delta force is much quicker. It’s also precise to the row in our tilled fields where we have a wheel track or other variations. Having the Delta force really opened our eyes to drastically reducing tillage..

Verified FBN Member (NE)

I'd say it totally depends on your field conditions... if you till your soil and have uniform soil conditions then I'd say you'd get by with air just fine. On our farm, we are all no-till and having hydraulic downforce (Precision delta force) has been a huge benefit for our operation.

Verified FBN Member (MN)

That's what I'm concluding. It makes sense in my head anyway! I have long term goals of going to no-till but at this point that is likely several years away. At least full transition...

Verified FBN Member (OH)

Since adding deltaforce on our planter, we have drastically reduced tillage. We just don’t see the yield response from fall ripping that we used to. Our primary tillage now is a high speed disk or a field cultivator in the spring primarily to work in the fertilizer and level things out from the previous year or kill stubborn weeds.

Verified FBN Member (TN)

I just went from air to individual row hydraulic downforce this year. The difference is huge, can be seen in uniform seed depth, is evidenced by uniform day of emergence, and ultimately reflected in yield.

Verified FBN Member (SD)

If I could choose only one option on a planter int would be active hyd down force, we are notill and see anywhere from 100lbs lift to 300lbs down all in one pass, this season with the wet challenging conditions we saw alot less sidewall Compaction then our other non active down force planter

Verified FBN Member (NE)

We’ve run delta force since the 2nd year it was out. I totally agree...of all the new high tech stuff we have...that would be the very last thing I would give up.

Verified FBN Member (MS)

I think it definitely helps. Penciling out exactly how much ROI probably hard to do only bc every year is so different. Although I agree, that price tag is rough to swallow.

Verified FBN Member (NE)

Dad says "...it's not much money if you say it fast..." LOL!! Working on my auctioneer skills to try and help!?

Verified FBN Member (SD)

Is that a $30k option over springs, airbags with manual adjustment, or airbags with air Force type control? Thinking about adding Delta force to replace my springs this next year. Tough price to swallow but my first year with a 20/20 was eye opening on the down force.

Verified FBN Member (MN)

That's over the air bag system.

Verified FBN Member (IL)

Added DeltaForce to our corn planter 2 years ago, think it really paid off this year since we planted in such wet conditions. Looking at my applied downforce maps you can make out every path the tillage tractor took... I think the ROI could be very high in some years..

Verified FBN Member (MO)

We’ve had hyd down force for 2 years and really like it. Conventional doesn’t matter as much as no-till. We have a lot of clay type soils. Make sure you have plenty of hydraulic flow on your tractor. My 9230 pulling our 1775 24 row exact emerge. Is short on flow. Good luck

Verified FBN Member (IA)

We added precision planting delta-force, v-drive electric meters, and the clean sweep row cleaner system to our planter about three years ago for just about $40K instead of spending $80K to trade for a newer JD planter. That was on a 16 row planter. We have been super impressed with the hydraulic down force. You can see all the cart tracks, manure dragline tracks, and spring tillage tractor tracks in the applied down force map. I would be interested to hear if anybody else tried side by side trials with active hydraulic down force vs. air bags.

Verified FBN Member (IL)

Put delta force on our planter a couple years ago. I had heard deere's system doesn't lift up the unit, but I may be wrong on that. I would say 70% of the time we have negative applied down-force. You might think nice mellow planting conditions its not as necessary but I wouldn't go back. Especially liked it this year with such variable conditions from dry, wet, tilled, no-tilled.

Verified FBN Member (IL)

A farm in our area installed it last year which was a near perfect growing season and saw a 2-3 bushel gain on corn in all their check strips. The strips were active vs static downforce. I would think on a year like this year, it would shine even more.

Verified FBN Member (MN)

I believe it is $30k retail. Should be 25% less actual money. Air is a step up from springs and individual row hydraulic is the next step up. It pays. How much depends on your planting environment. In full tillage I’ve seen studies that say little to no yield advantage to air. Full no-till here and it’s a no brainer for that. Yields continue to climb due to much more even emergence.

Verified FBN Member (OH)

If you are ordering a high speed planter, hydraulic downforce is a no brainer, otherwise your springs will be set way too heavy at slow speeds or way to light for high speeds. We planted in mud this year with hydraulic and had perfect emergence and plant vigor across the planter. Our neighbor planted the same day and the corn is short and uneven in the rows beside the tracks. How that will translate to yield is yet to be seen. It's like anything else though, if it isn't set right you won't see any benefit. A side benefit is if you pay attention to the applied pressure map, you can see compaction issues real quick.

Verified FBN Member (IA)
(edited)

We have the Precision Planting hydraulic downforce system and it was probably the single best investment we've made into our planter.

We farm heavy gumbo so we've noticed the system lifting up quite a bit, and I don't believe Deere's has that functionality. Just FYI if your soil is also a heavy clay.

Verified FBN Member (NE)

I installed Ag Leader Sure Force this winter, I was surprised at how many acres I went over with uplift. Stand was more uniform, we'll see how the yields are. So far I like it.

Verified FBN Member (ND)

if you farm in perfect soils that are dry and never vary, sure springs are fine. If you have variability in your soils hydraulic down force is a huge deal. Since installing Deltaforce we have better roots. this leads to better late season plant health and the elimination of late season ear drop. If you can afford only one planter accessory hydraulic down force is the best money spent.

Verified FBN Member (MN)

We have a Deere hydraulic down force and a Deere active pneumatic. This is not scientific by any means but last year our exact emerge yielded 5 bushel more on corn than the pneumatic across several thousand acres. Obviously the exact emerge could be part of it but I really feel it is mostly due to the row by row downforce. I am considering doing precision on the second planter because I really need to have the lift capability. Our ground is super heavy dirt and lots of corn on corn all strip till.

Verified FBN Member (OH)

We added Precision Planting Deltaforce 3 years ago to our planter. It is the first thing I'd add to a planter in the future and won't ever own another planter without it. Best stands of corn we've ever had, have been in the last three years all with different varying challenging conditions (too wet, too dry, ect).

Verified FBN Member (IA)

We have 500 acres. Still difficult to justify the $20,000 we spent for Delta Force. One of the reasons I decided to go with hydraulic instead of air bags was because I saw a lot of FaceBook farm equip classifieds with airbags and asked the sellers why, and it was because they were moving to hydraulic so I just skipped to the premium setup. Glad I did. A lot of variable conditions in 2019. Carbon penalty aside, we had a great stand!

Verified FBN Member (NE)

Thinking about resale is a great point to consider with any purchase! Thanks for that point ****

Verified FBN Member (WI)

My 1st year running precision with delta force and smart firmers. We have the best stand we’ve ever had despite the most challenging spring due to wet conditions. 2600 acres planted with a 16 row. I have to believe we have a positive roi.

Verified FBN Member (AL)

We love it

Verified FBN Member (IN)

Been running Air Force for 3 years with down and up air bags in no till. The up bags run more than the down. I run a 12 row with 5 sensors. Hydraulic would do it row by row where as mine just does an average. Pinched an airline first year, ran 20 acres before was able to find the problem. Huge yield difference. Will eventually have hydraulic but air with up and down bags is far better than springs.

Verified FBN Member (MN)

We have been running DeltaForce from Precision Planting for four years and it definitely pays off! Check with a Precision Planting Dealer about upgrading your planter for cheaper then getting a newer one or a new one(They are access to Financing options also to help pencil things out). We have seen beans planted with DeltaForce rows coming up more uniform then down springs or airbags.

Verified FBN Member (MO)

On our farm my brother runs hydro on his planter and mine is still air. We are 100% no till and the difference is unbelievable. We will never own another planter without hydro. However, to the author, as many others have stated, with conventional till and consistent soil conditions you could do without. That being said, you’ll be shocked at how much extra downforce you are using with air that you don’t need. We find many times the hydro is actually lifting the rows.

Verified FBN Member (NE)

We have run Dawn hydr down-force (which is or is like Deere's) for 4 years and have been extremely happy with it. We no-till into fields we've grazed, move from no-till into areas that had to be tilled, and have varying soil conditions that having one downforce value across the whole toolbar, or 10 feet further down the row would not provide the control we need. It's also on an exact-emerge, so fast response is more critical. Where we till everything, our active-air downforce planter does a great job - can't tell the difference. PS. we also paired it with the Dawn hydr. down-force furrow openers - expensive, but worth it.

Verified FBN Member (OK)

What are their furrow openers? I guess I just mean what do they do and why is it worth it? I have a 16r high speed DEERE with dawn hyd downforce and I just got a 24r that we are converting to a high speed but it has air and wasn’t wanting to add $30k to the $85k conversion but sounds like it’s worth it?

Verified FBN Member (NE)

Gfx. I like the fact that the furrow openers are mounted to the toolbar and not the row-unit. Can add/remove downforce quickly or raise them up in wet spots. We run it off the same remote as the downforce. It has an electric control in the cab.

Verified FBN Member (KS)

I have run Deeres hydraulic system for the last 3 years. The tilled soil is easy for any system. This hyd system really shows in no till. I know it costs a lot up front but you will get a lot of it back in resale.

Verified FBN Member (IL)

I added the Dawn system this Spring and it worked great. Perfect year for us to purchase with all the poor conditions of dry and wet soils. Seed placement was perfect

Verified FBN Member (MN)

In crops like sugar beets and kidney beans where you have to plant at shallow depths around 1”, it has been helpful in our varying soil types and in erratic soil moisture conditions.

For all you precision dealers out there...wouldn’t an interesting next step be a system where we enter the depth we want and the planter has a way to monitor that? They’re measuring moisture in the trench so I’ll bet they’re getting close.

Verified FBN Member (IL)

It’s called SmartDepth, was introduced a year ago and has been in beta testing. Probably released in 2021

Verified FBN Member
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Verified FBN Member (TX)

I know I am way late on this response but I felt it was worth mentioning. This spring we had Delta Force on our planter. We farm primarily cotton in west Texas along with some grain sorghum. It was abnormally wet during our planting season. So wet that I presume it was almost like a normal planting season for y’all in the Midwest, but I have to say the Delta Force was worth its weight in gold! I was mudding and sliding through the wet spots in our fields and the planter row units picked up and glided through. The tractor sank and the planter was still doing its job perfectly. Again this doesn’t happen in my area but it just shows the capability of it. I pulled up the downforce maps in my fields when I was done and found that I was lifting more than I was pressing down. It really makes you scratch your head and wonder about your previous planting seasons and what could have been?

Verified FBN Member (OH)

We had similar planting conditions in northwest Ohio this spring. Most farms in my area planted between 50% to 0% of their corn and what corn did get planted was in mid June. This was the first year for our delta force and vset planting system and now that harvest is done we couldn’t be more happy with the yield results. For the most part it was lifting the row unit and we planted right through some sloppy conditions. We had just enough dry soil to get the seed trench closed but the soil right at the seed depth was still very soggy and I think delta force did a great job of not compacting the wet soil around the seed. 2018 was the best corn year we ever had by about 10 bu and we were only short of that mark by 4 bu this year.

Verified FBN Member (NE)

Have u shopped around? A lot of guys around me are having guys build their own and installing Precision equipment. Local said he priced JD vs Precision apples to apples and JD was $75,000 higher than local built planter with Precision and felt Precision had better equipment, I can't argue with that.

Verified FBN Member (TX)

We chose precision planting delta force over Deere for that exact same reason. The Delta force just works. Turn it on and forget about it. It’s amazing to watch it work as you plant. I wished I could sit behind the planter in a pull behind recliner chair.

Verified FBN Member (MN)

Delta force is one of the best investments I’ve ever made! I did my own trial with it the first year and it was 6 bushels better. **** at Midwest Machinery said “It’s not necessary and it’s completely stupid to put it on your planter”!

Verified FBN Member (SD)

Delta force is a must for no till and conventional . Don’t waist money on airbags ,they are not much better then springs. Each row is specific on down pressure and you can really see it on floater tracks. Even in tilled fields .

Verified FBN Member (SD)

We’ve been 100% no-till in eastern South Dakota forever and got a 24row30” 1770 8 years ago with active air and we would never go back to passive ever again. We can’t justify the added cost to go to hydraulic especially when we’re still seeing similar yields compared to our neighbors with it. But to go new from factory for 30k doesn’t seem too bad, but don’t underestimate what even active air can do.

Verified FBN Member (MN)

The Delta Force system is fantastic. We are running it on 2 White planters in no till, strip till and some conventional tilled fields. It enables proper planting in every situation. The other benefit is that when looking at the maps created you can see every wheel track and anomaly in the field. When seeing the results from fertilizer application tracks in the spring and field cultivator tracks, or those left by someone driving around with a pickup just to check the condition of the field, it makes one understand a little more of what is going on out there. Spend the money and start looking for ways to do less tillage. You will be money ahead.

Verified FBN Member (ND)

Down pressure equipent worth it?? Test the yields difference between using the equipment and where you don't might reveal relevant factor. Tell us what the yield difference is after you try it.

Verified FBN Member (BC, CAN)

I would say monitoring how much down force you have is the key. Real time sensors on your units to find out if you are getting a consistent down pressure. How you achieve that down pressure is they key

Verified FBN Member (MN)

We have run precision hydraulic down force on our planter since the product’s inception(something like 8 years?) it is totally the most valuable addition made to our 16 row JD planter. It makes the planter more mobile for some crazy conditions. I have planted through the rain with it(never thought that could be possible before without slabbing furrow walls). The ability of the hydraulic downforce to not only put force down, but to also LIFT the unit up to decrease excess weight, is often overlooked. Amazing tech to have.

Next thing I was is furrowforce, precision’s “furrow reconditioning” attachment, and clean sweep.

P.s. we have heavy silty clay loam soils here in our part of SW MN

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