Should I Calibrate My Seed Meters?

Premier Dealer employee calibrates a seed meter using a Precision Planting MeterMax stand.

Why is seed meter calibration so important?

Seed meters regulate the flow of seeds through the planter and into the furrow, ensuring accurate and uniform singulation and spacing. Some meters plant certain seed sizes and shapes than others. Are you planning to try a new seed treatment, coating, or meter lubricant? These can all affect the performance of the meter. Yearly testing of seed meters helps to identify and correct any malfunctions and improves seed singulation, resulting in better crop yields.

Benefits of good singulation

Our PTI Farm has done a 5-year study on how improper seed singulation affects corn yield. The agronomy team modified vSet seed plates with plugged and extra holes to purposefully create skips and doubles. These “goof” plates created meter performance of 95% singulation vs the control at 99.5%. The poor singulation resulted in losses of -$41.00/acre over the 5-year period. For each percentage of singulation lost, yield was decreased by an average of -2.1 bushels an acre.

To learn more about this study, watch this InsidePTI episode from fall 2022.

Corn Singulation Study at the PTI Farm from 2018-2022

Objective: To evaluate how improper seed singulation affects corn yield. Modified vSet® seed plates with plugged and extra holes were used to create skips and doubles. These “goof” plates created an average of 95% spacing accuracy vs. the control at 99.5%.

Results: The table above illustrates 95% seed singulation resulted in economic losses of -$41.00/A. over a 5-yr period of 2018-2022. Over this same time period, for each percentage of singulation lost, yield was decreased by an average of -2.1 Bu/A.

All seed meters wear over time

Both finger meters and vacuum meters wear over time. Oftentimes, the friction of so many moving parts causes meter component wear and leads to poor performance. This can affect spacing and singulation. The following worn items negatively affect performance:  

For finger meters:  

  • Fingers 
  • Springs 
  • Backing plates 
  • Belts 
  • Brushes  

For vacuum meters: 

  • Worn disks 
  • Singulators
  • Vacuum seals  

If not properly inspected and maintained, your meters could significantly lower your yield potential for all crops. It doesn’t matter if you run a Kinze, White, John Deere, Case IH, or Great Plains planter—your seed meters need to be tested before heading to the field.

What to expect from a seed meter test

Your local Precision Planting Premier Dealer can test and evaluate most types of meters and crops with their MeterMax® Ultra test stand. The MeterMax Ultra is a machine that is used to test and calibrate seed meters. The test stand simulates the conditions under which the seed meter will be used in the field. 

The technician will run seed through the seed meter on the MeterMax Ultra test stand and it will calculate the number of seeds that pass through the meter as well as the singulation of those seeds. Then, they compare the known seed count with the known count or weight and calculate the difference. Your Premier Dealer will inspect and test your meters for worn or broken components that can then be replaced or fixed. They can calibrate your finger meters for your crop type, seed size, and shape.

Meter calibration is just one step toward better planter maintenance! Check out our downloadable guide and corresponding video series to learn the 15 key areas to maintain on your planter.

planter maintenance guide and checklist

Planter Maintenance Guide

What's Included:
‣  1-sheet checklist 
‣  Links directly to corresponding videos
‣  Overview of 15 key maintenance areas

» Planter Maintenance Series

Related Tags

CornSoybeansSugarbeetsSunflowersPeanutsEdible BeansCottonPlantersPlanting & Seeding


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