Written by: Todd Westerfeld
Todd Westerfeld is fifth-generation farmer growing corn, cotton and wheat in the Stampede Valley in Texas. He farms alongside his father, Terry, and enjoys raising his three children on the ranch with his wife, Amanda. Todd’s local Precision Planting Premier Dealer is Todd Kimbrell at Blackland Ag Solutions, LLC in Itasca, TX. Follow along with Todd @Westy1242 on Instagram.
Where we farm in Texas, we’ve experienced a wide variety of extreme weather in the past few years. While this is somewhat normal for us, it’s also been more challenging than we’ve ever experienced before. We went from flooding in 2016, to a drought in 2018, and another record drought in 2022.
When we make decisions on our farm to change or upgrade equipment, it must work in both dry and wet conditions and with our various crops. We have mostly heavy, silty clay soil that compacts easily and requires conventional tillage. We’d love to incorporate no-till practices like other parts of the country, but our soil just isn’t suited for that.
Cotton is our pickiest crop and what we focus our equipment performance on the most. Since cotton is planted shallow, it’s important to get the seed to the bottom of the trench. We didn’t find success with a competitor’s seed firmer so we gave the Keeton Seed Firmers from Precision Planting a shot about five years ago. They truly pushed the seeds down into moisture in the trench and just that change to our planter alone made a huge improvement to our cotton stand.
Next, it came time to upgrade our closing system. The OEM closing wheels that came stock on our planter were not doing a good enough job closing the seedbed. The rubber wheels struggled in our silty clay soil, especially in our cotton fields after a rain.
We wanted to explore other options so I gave my local Premier Precision Planting dealer a call. He invited me out to the field to watch a local farmer plant using various closing wheels, side-by-side. For me, it was a no-brainer. The ability to see them in action in the field next to one another proved that the FurrowForce closing system far exceeded the performance of the others.
I’m usually an advocate for starting small before committing to a whole planter worth of parts, but I was confident in this decision since I was able to see it working first-hand and immediately added FurrowForce to all 24 rows on our planter. After running them for three seasons now, we are still just as happy with them as the first spring we installed them.
On our farm, we utilize what’s called controlled traffic tracks. I like to run manual FurrowForce because I adjust a few rows to apply more pressure in those wheel tracks. I can typically set the system once and be good to go for the season. The outcome is even emergence across my fields, even through the traffic lanes.
FurrowForce allows us to broaden our planting window and take advantage of less-than-ideal conditions to get all of our crops planted. If it wasn’t for this closing system and the ability to plant at high speeds paired together, we still may not have a seed in the ground this season.
I enjoy FurrowForce so much that I have offered to take a few rows off and let my neighbors run them once we are done planting, so they can try them on their own fields. Much like FurrowForce did for me, the right products will sell themselves, but it’s important to see it for yourself and try it on your own farm. Even if it’s just trying one row at a time.
I also encourage farmers to try new brands. I find myself not being brand loyal and instead being loyal to the right products for my farm. Take the time to research products across the board and commit to the one that will serve you the best.
Hear Todd's story with FurrowForce manual as a closing system for variable soil types and high-speed planting.