Many farmers are waiting for the start of the rains before they plant their crops, mainly maize and beans.
Well, the delayed rains have disrupted the planting season but on the brighter side, this give farmers an opportunity to make a final check on the seeds, the recommended planting depth and inter-row spacing and to prepare the calibration of their planters for seed and fertiliser placement.
If the seeds need a planting depth of 3cm with inter-row spacing of 23cm between plants, the calibration of the planter should be within a plus or minus variation of 2cm.
When planting maize seeds, the inter-row spacing is achieved by using the correct seed plate and appropriate settings of the drive gears of the planter.
A manufacturer of quality equipment will give this information to guide the farmer. The placement of fertiliser plays a key role in achieving a good crop.
Accordingly, the quantity of fertiliser should also be calibrated to meet the required kilos per acre. This is achieved by adjusting drive gears and practical testing to ensure that the planter delivers the required ration of fertiliser and the seeds.
After calibration, the fertiliser should be placed below or on one side of the seed to avoid direct contact and allow essential elements to be absorbed in the soil by moisture before the germination of the seeds.
This prevents burning of the seeds at this early and important stage.
But as you prepare to use the planter, remember the following tasks:
Check and lubricate all chains and bearings; adjust disc openers, or replace those that are worn out for the furrow to give accurate seed positioning.
Set the correct alignment of coulters and disc openers for accurate furrow opening and seed alignment; inflate tyres to the correct pressure to give accurate transmission settings for the seed drop and clean seed tubes and monitor sensors to maintain the accuracy of the sensors.
The writer, Fergus Robley, is the general manager, FMD East Africa, the Massey Ferguson distributor.