Calibrate For Variable-rate Precision Farming Success

Kurt LawtonGeneral

Insights WeeklyLast week I talked about the importance of planter calibration when using variable-rate technology. This week, I spoke with Nick Ohrtman, Ag Leader’s Tech Support Supervisor about fertilizer spreader calibration. How important is calibration of precision farming equipment when using it on a fertilizer spreader?

Ohrtman: As I mentioned last week, Ag Leader products have a calibration wizard that goes through the calibration process step-by-step, but if you are not using an Ag Leader product, make sure to consult your owner’s manual for additional tips and information. When performing the calibration it is essential to correctly enter the “Product Density” into your display. The calibration wizard allows the spreader to dispense a desired amount of product.

Once the product has been dispensed into a “catch”, you then weigh the actual product and enter that number into the display. Once the desired amount of product and the actual amount of product have been entered, the display will then adjust the cubic feet per revolution. It is important to do this calibration for each product because not all products flow through the feed gate the same way.

Not calibrating could lead to applying too much or not enough product in the field. Unlike a planter where you have sensors to confirm what your hydraulic drive is doing, there is no such “double check” on a spinner spreader, making calibration an even more important step. What are some things users can look for as a sign of calibration problems?

Ohrtman: The best way to make sure that things are working properly is to create a new region for each load. Compare what the display says with your weigh ticket after that load has been applied. If the numbers match up, you know the display is dispensing the desired amount of product. Can you save settings for future calibrations?

Ohrtman: Just as in planting, all calibration and product density settings are saved on a per-product basis until you change them. Once a calibration has been completed for a product, it should not have to be changed. With that said, it’s still a good idea to do a test calibration each year, especially if any work has been done on the machine itself. Is there anything else users should know?

Ohrtman: A good check when going through the season is to continually compare scale tickets to your display readings. If the weight of the load is the same as the display indicates has been applied, application is working properly.

As always, consult your owner’s manual for information on proper calibration of equipment.

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