Top Combines, Planters and Drills

Exclusive Cover Story - Top Combines, Planters and Drills

(Progressive Farmer image provided by Case IH)

Progressive Farmer's newest series of Reader Insights equipment studies reveal owners hold high respect for several manufacturers of the equipment they use in their operations. These new studies focused on combines, pull-type planters and drills. An earlier study released in July focused on tractors.

This study produced favorable results for several equipment manufacturers. It is notable that while John Deere combines and planters are evaluated well among those who responded to this survey, Case IH owners also rate well the combines and planters purchased from that manufacturer. Kinze Manufacturing scored well in the planter and drills study. Great Plains Ag stands atop one category for its drills.

Reader Insights is a first-of-its-kind study series designed to give farmers a voice on the quality of the farming equipment they use in their operations. Compiling data from an extensive list of questions, Progressive Farmer's Reader Insights studies produce results in three categories for each type of equipment researched and, if applicable, by size -- for example, number of rows on a planter, horsepower in tractors or class in combines.

Data was gathered from most U.S. states in the most recent studies -- 38 states plus two Canadian provinces for combines, 36 states for planters and 35 states for drills. Including the earlier tractor study, Progressive Farmer has now collected owner-based data on more than 9,300 pieces of farming equipment.

Progressive Farmer commissioned this study -- and is building future equipment studies -- in collaboration with SOCAL Approach Marketing and Consulting Group.


These current studies were broken into two parts. The combine study was mailed to 20,000 farmers who subscribe to Progressive Farmer. This study collected data on 946 combines.

The second study looked at planters and drills. The planter study is based on 930 individual planter ratings drawn from a random sample of 20,000 farmers who also are subscribers to Progressive Farmer. Ownership data also was collected on 409 individual seed drills.

The three awards categories recognized by the Progressive Farmer Reader Insights study are for Overall Ownership Experience, Fewest Reported Problems and Ownership Loyalty.

The follow summaries, listed by the three categories, include response data direct from readers regarding the equipment they operate on their farms.


Of the combines evaluated, 34% work less than 1,000 acres in a year. Forty-three percent work 1,000 to 2,900 acres, 14% work 3,000 to 4,900 acres and 9% work 5,000 acres or more. Combine turnover is fairly infrequent. Just over 10% of combines have been owned for less than a year. A bit less than a quarter of the units evaluated in this study have been owned for two to three years. One-third have been owned for up to seven years and another third for more than seven years.

Operators offered a couple of insights to purchasing combines.

> It is important to the owners of the combines evaluated that the machines can be maintained on the farm. Eighty percent of smaller combine owners and 75% of large combine owners said it was important to them that they can maintain their combines themselves.

> As was revealed in July's tractor survey, the dealership relationship is critical in the purchasing decisions made for combines. Eighty percent of combine evaluations indicate dealers are somewhat or very important to a farmer's final purchasing decision.

Purchase financing is the main transaction method farmers use to purchase the combines they evaluated for this study. That is true for most owners of Class 6 combines and below, and for owners of Class 7 combines and above.

Still, cash is king for a large percentage of purchases. Forty-six percent of owners paid cash for their smaller Class 6 and below machines, while 39% paid cash for combines Class 7 and larger.

Interestingly, Class 6 and below combines were three times more likely to be leased than their larger cousins. More, the choice to lease appears to be a function of manufacturer and dealer incentives.


Overall Ownership Experience:

Case IH (Class 6 and Below)
Case IH (Class 7 and Above)

Fewest Reported Problems:
John Deere (Class 6 and Below)
John Deere (Class 7 and Above)

Owner Loyalty:
John Deere (Class 6 and Below)
Case IH (Class 7 and Above)


Of the 930 pull-type planters evaluated for the Progressive Farmer study, fully one-third work less than 1,000 acres. Nearly half of those evaluated are said by their owners to work 1,000 to 2,000 acres, 13% work 3,000 to 4,900 acres and 7% work 5,000 acres or more. Three-quarters of the planters evaluated also are deployed on leased land.

Of those planters evaluated, corn and soybeans are the crops most often planted -- 35% corn acres and 32% soybean acres. Eighteen percent of planters are used for double-cropping. The vast majority of planters used for double-cropping occurs on less than 500 acres.

Eighty-two percent of the planters were bought from a dealer, and almost half were purchased new, leaving a large percentage of those purchased used.

Two-thirds of the planters evaluated were purchased with cash. For 74% of evaluated planters, the dealer was rated as either very or somewhat important to the sale. Important to the sale, too, is the ability for the owner to maintain it by themselves. For 84% of the evaluated planters, the ability to maintain the planter themselves was important to the sale.


Overall Ownership Experience:
Kinze Manufacturing (9 to 19 Rows)

Kinze Manufacturing (20 Rows and Above)

Fewest Reported Problems:
Case IH (9 to 19 Rows)
John Deere­ -- Tie (20 Rows and Above)

Kinze Manufacturing -- Tie (20 Rows and Above)

Owner Loyalty:
Case IH (9 to 19 Rows)
John Deere (20 Rows and Above)


The drill study gathered information on 409 units. Of those, 35% are pulled across 1,000 acres or less. Forty-three percent work 1,000 to 2,900 acres, 14% work 3,000 to 4,900 acres and 8% work 5,000 acres or more. Twenty-six percent of the drills evaluated are used for double-cropping, with 85% of evaluated drills used to double-crop fewer than 500 acres.

The majority of drills -- 61% of the group evaluated -- were bought used. Nearly 70% were purchased from a dealer, 18% from a private party and 13% at auction. Most are purchased with cash.

As with planters, 82% of drills evaluated are owned by producers who said it was important to them that they are able to do their own maintenance. That is one feature important in making a decision to purchase in buying the drill.


Overall Ownership Experience: John Deere

Fewest Reported Problems: Great Plains

Owner Loyalty: John Deere


Past Issues