A single downforce setting across the entire field leads to too much downforce in some areas and too little in others, causing lost yield. AirForce is a downforce control system that measures variability in the field and automatically adjusts your downforce needs to changing field environments, so you stop sacrificing yield as environments in your fields change.
Environments in Your Fields Change
As you plant your fields, you encounter changing environments. Soil types change, drainage changes, elevation changes, and with each of these changes, the amount of downforce needed changes. With springs or airbags, you are left guessing at the correct setting as well as having to remember to make the necessary adjustment. Even worse, sometimes you would have to get out of the cab. Often, your down pressure setting ends up being wrong.
The Cost of Wrong
Incorrect downforce settings cause one of two issues; compaction or loss of depth. Compaction created by excess force carried on the planter’s depth gauge wheels will compact soil and remove pore space in the soil. This tight soil doesn’t allow roots to grow like they want to, and either causes the roots to turn or become smaller. When this happens, the plant sets a smaller ear because it is under stress. If the operator sets downforce too light, the opposite problem occurs. With too little downforce, the seed trench is not created at the depth that the row unit was set to, and the seeds are placed shallow, in dry soil, causing late emergence and smaller ears or barren plants.
Measurement of Gauge Wheel Weight
The key to getting downforce correct is to measure the amount of weight on the depth gauge wheels of the planter. If there is weight on the wheels, then the row unit plants at the depth that has been set. Too much weight and compaction occurs; no weight and seeding depth or ground contact is lost. Once the weight on the gauge wheels is known, it becomes easy to get that weight correct. A load cell is used on the planter to measure the amount of weight that is on the gauge wheels.
AirForce Manages Gauge Wheel Weight
AirForce uses the weight measured by the load cells along with an air compressor containing valves, to automatically increase or decrease the amount of pressure in airbags on the planter to get the average gauge wheel weight correct. The pressure in the airbags on each row is the same. AirForce does a great job accounting for large changes in the field, like slope or soil type changes.