Air Seeders vs. Planters: Which is Best for My Farm?

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| Farm and Agriculture

What’s the difference between an air seeder and a planter?

Air seeders and planters are both designed for seeding. While either will get the job done, there are some differences in how they function and what seeds work best for each. Continue reading to learn more about the differences between John Deere air seeders and planters.


Planting with John Deere


How does an air seeder work?

Air seeders volumetrically meter seed right below each tank. The meters turn as the fans blow air into the primary tubes. Seed is then dropped into the airflow and taken down to the tool. The seed makes its way to the tower through the primary hoses, and from the towers, is distributed to the secondary hoses. Secondary hoses carry the seed to the openers to be put into the ground.

At the ground level, opener blades make a trench for the seed while the gauge wheels set the depth that the seed will be placed. The seed is blown into the seed boot before the pressing wheel pushes the seed into the trench, ensuring full contact with the soil. Closing wheels then close the trench after seed placement.


What are the advantages of using an air seeder?

Producers looking to make seeding more efficient and quicker will get that and more from a John Deere air seeder. Air seeders are heavy-duty and designed to eliminate tilling the soil before seeding. These pieces of equipment are built to handle the toughest terrain, while requiring low maintenance and upkeep. Using an air seeder offers reduced manual labor and easy operation.


How does a planter work?

Planters offer singular seed placement through a finger row unit, positive displacement row unit, or vacuum precision unit. Each row unit of a planter has its own hose that is linked to the main hopper tank. Gravity forces seeds from the full, smaller hopper boxes, into the meter. Once inside the meter, each seed is sucked into an individual hole, with a vacuum effect holding the seed in place.

At ground level, row cleaners work to clear the ground of debris so the openers can make a clean furrow for the seed, while the gauge wheels regulate seed depth. The seed meter continues to drop one seed into the furrow at a time, and the seed firmer follows behind to make sure the seed is firmly in the ground. Closing wheels then fill the furrow back with soil so the seed is completely covered.


What are the advantages of using a planter?

Planters offer extreme precision through advanced technology to help reduce input costs and increase yield potential. With multiple planter types and models available, growers can customize their planter from a variety of options.


What crops are air seeders or planters most compatible with?

  • Air seeders are typically used for small grain and cereal crops such as: wheat, canola, Rape seed, etc.


  • Planters are an ideal option for larger row crop seeds. These include crops such as: corn, sunflower, sugar beets, or vegetables.


What types of air seeders are available from John Deere?

John Deere currently offers 28 different models of air seeders. Each model falls under one of three types of air seeders, air hoe drill, no-till air drill, or precisions air hoe drill. There are 10 models of air hoe drills available, so of the models including: 1830, H540F, H550, P540, P556, and P576.  With 14 models of no-till air drills to choose from, there is one to fit your operation’s needs. Some no-till air drill models available include: N530C, N536C, N540C, N536, N542, N543F, and N560. Lastly, there are four precision air hoe drill models available to round out the John Deere lineup of air seeders. These include: P660, P670, P680, P690.


What types of planters are available from John Deere?

John Deere offers four types of planters: DR planters, DB planters, drawn planters, and mounted planters. DR planters, with stack-fold technology, offer growers the most customization for any specialized needs they may have. Examples of DR planter models are: DR12 and DR16. Coming in widths of 44 to 120 feet, DB planters, such as DB60, DB80, or DB90, are common among high-acreage growers. Drawn planters are the most used planters due to the versatility they offer growers by handling both conventional and no-till fields. Common drawn planter models include: 1765 and 1775NT. Mounted planters are ideal for conventional and reduced-till planting methods with their compact and economical build.


Where can I get professional advice to help me decide between an air seeder or a planter?

If you are considering an air seeder or planter for your operation, Koenig Equipment has a trained Sales and Precision Ag team to help you through every step. Sales Specialists can help you with the differences and benefits of either seeding tool compared to your operation. After that, our Optimization Specialists can talk to you about the precision technology options for both an air seeder and a planter. Our full-service team will make sure you know all the information and what each piece has to offer you so you can make the best decision for your operation.


Where can I find John Deere air seeders and planters near me?

Koenig Equipment offers John Deere air seeders and planters at 5 locations in Indiana and 4 in Ohio. Call or visit your local Koenig Equipment to learn more about the new and used air seeder and planter options available today.



Additional Resources:

What Can the John Deere ExactEmerge™ Planter Do?

Should I Add a Performance Upgrade Kit to My John Deere Planter?

How Can I Get My Farm Ready for Planting Season?