Farmers considering buying a new planter, for no-till or conventional production systems, should do more than kick a few tires and marvel at the fresh paint.

“”The main thing to consider is if a particular planter fits your operation,” says Jeff Brower, Canadian County, Okla., grain farmer and a featured speaker at the No-Till Oklahoma Conference in Norman.

Planters are crucial tools for no-till operations, he said. “With no-till, the most important thing is getting seed in the ground.”

Brower said farmers should consider a list of factors before deciding on a new planting rig. “Consider the size of the unit versus the number of acres you need to seed,” he said. He also recommended farmers consider how adaptable the unit will be. “Will it handle varying weather conditions—wet or dry—and will it work for both no-till and conventional planting systems?

“Can you pull it?” he asked. If a producer buys a planter that’s too big to pull with tractors already on the farm he may have to upgrade, at significant expense, to handle the new machinery.

He said farmers need to check to see how to fill the planter. He has one he had to adapt to handle hopper bottom feeders.

“Also, consider if it will fit down the road,” he said. “Check narrow bridges and other crossings before you make the purchase.”

Brower asked for a show of hands of those who actually read their owners’ manuals. Many raised their hands. “I’m surprised,” he said. He said he feared that many farmers neglect to read the manuals. “I’ve read mine cover-to-cover three times. It’s important to familiarize yourself with your equipment and understand the functions.”