Made By Kinze For Kinze

Planter manufacturer launches new display, electric drive and active

Jim Patrico
By  Jim Patrico , Progressive Farmer Senior Editor
The Blue Vantage is Kinze’s unique, homegrown planter display system, Image courtesy of Kinze

Kinze Manufacturing likes its independence and doing things its own way. So, it is not surprising that Kinze released a new planter display, new electric drives and a unique active hydraulic downforce system, all designed and delivered in-house and with ease of use in mind.

Kinze had something like this in mind four years ago, when it established its own electronics division in North Liberty, Iowa. That’s about 25 miles from Kinze’s home in rural Williamsburg, but it’s smack in the middle of the Iowa Technology Corridor, between Iowa City and Cedar Rapids.

The location was no accident, says Susie Veatch, Kinze president and chief marketing officer. It helped the company attract a crop of top software developers, many of whom wanted to live surrounded by other high-tech aficionados. Some of the software specialists have a farm background; others come from other industries, including aviation. This diversity helps generate original thinking, she says.

Writing its own software and designing its own electronics hardware allows Kinze to avoid challenges that occur “when you don’t do things yourself,” Veatch says.

DO-IT-YOURSELF. One of the first results of this digital do-it-yourself approach is the new Blue Vantage display, a rugged tablet that runs Kinze’s own software for a “holistic” approach to planting, says Eric Broadbent, director of sales for North America.

Blue Vantage allows a simple, three-click process to start planting. One: Check system status and planting task. Two: Set seeding rate, and check pressure settings. Three: Plant.

The touch screen is arranged in segments that include a live bar graph that represents each planter row unit. Color-coded bars indicate each unit’s real-time performance. Green means everything is functioning as it should. Yellow or red indicate the operator should check for problems.

A “health” screen on the display is similar to those created by the auto industry. If there is a problem with one of the row units, the operator can look at diagnostic pages for a quick solution. If it is a serious problem, the display can provide detailed information to a dealer technician and provide diagnostic workflows. Touch and pinch function lets the operator enlarge or shrink the live planting map.

ALL ELECTRIC. Kinze was the first manufacturer to offer factory-installed electric drives to simplify planter operation. Its second-generation electric drive units--Blue Drive--allow single-row section control. Seed populations are programmable or manual. On split-row planters, the units are calibrated so that push rows (front of the machine) shut off before pull rows (rear of the machine). That ensures fewer overlaps or skips at headlands and curves.

Each row’s Blue Drive unit has its own module, and each module is identical. That makes repair and replacement easy. The system uses Ethernet cables, which provide fast interactions and require smaller wiring harnesses for a cleaner toolbar.

HOW DEEP? True Depth is Kinze’s proprietary answer to other on-the-go downpressure systems. Each row has a hydraulic/electronic unit that responds 200 times per second for near-instantaneous changes. If, for example, a row runs in a compacted wheel track, True Depth can increase the downpressure on individual rows to ensure seeds are placed at a preset depth. If, on the other hand, a row runs across a looser sandy spot, True Depth can create uppressure to lessen the force on the row unit.

Blue Vantage and Blue Drive are available for 2019 on various configurations of Kinze’s 3660 and 4900 planter models. Retrofit kits also will be available.

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Jim Patrico