As a punchout user, please email for assistance.
Resource Center
{{product.extended_sale_price | toCurrency({currencyCode : cartDetail.currency.code})}}
Cart details ({{productsTotalQuantity}})
Subtotal: {{cartDetail.cart_amount_ex_tax | toCurrency({currencyCode : cartDetail.currency.code})}}
Your Shopping Cart is empty

Choose Your Planting Adventure with Planter Upgrades

16 May 2024  •  Tony Kramer

You can find past podcast episodes and view show notes by visiting our podcast website.    

Have precision ag questions? We have the answers. Find a specific channel dedicated to answering your precision technology questions: Precision Ag Answers.    

Read the entire transcript from the latest episode. 

Tony Kramer: Hi, I'm Tony Kramer, your host of the Agriculture Technology Podcast, and I'm sitting down with agriculture technology and equipment experts to help you enhance your operation for today, tomorrow, and into the future. In this episode, I sit down with Colin Artz to talk about Planter Precision Upgrade Kits. With that, let's dive into the show. I am very excited to welcome Colin Artz onto the show. Colin joins us from our Aberdeen, South Dakota location, but before we dive into the show, Colin, why don't you take a moment to tell our listeners a little bit about yourself, who you are, where you come from, and how you got to where you are today?

Colin Artz: Hey, thanks, Tony. Yes, Colin Artz, out of the Aberdeen location. I've been here for 22 years. I was a service tech back in the shop, came up through the service department and started sales in 2009, so I've been doing that ever since.

Tony: Yes, you got quite the extensive John Deere dealership history. It's cool to hear that you've been with the RDO organization for 20 years and still going strong in sales, so neat to hear everyone's background. We as RDO and/or your local John Deere dealer, we have solutions that we can provide to many different levels of customers. We hear the term PUK or Precision Upgrade Kit or Performance Upgrade Kit. There's been a lot of different names, acronyms thrown around, but what I want to tell our listeners or what I want you to explain, Colin, what is a Precision Upgrade Kit?

Colin: Precision upgrade kit is a great opportunity or a great solution for a customer that's maybe cost-conscious or depending on availability of new equipment, has an opportunity to basically take his existing bar and upgrade it to the latest and greatest technology.

Tony: Traditionally speaking in the John Deere world, we didn't have this type of solution. We customer, if they wanted the latest technology or they wanted to upgrade what they had for a planter, they had to buy a new planter, order a new planter or find one used. There was no ability other than going to a third party. There was no ability to do this type of an upgrade, right?

Colin: Yes, correct. This has been a great opportunity that we started. I would say roughly five years ago, coming into it, we've had a lot of success selling them. It's a good viable option instead of completely ordering a whole new planter.

Tony: That leads me into my next question, Colin, you've sold a handful of these kits. Why would a customer go the route of Precision Upgrade Kit versus buying or ordering a brand new planter or maybe going on the hunt or having you hunt for a used machine? Where is the value to a customer when we talk Precision Upgrade Kits for planters?

Colin: I'd say probably the number one advantage of it is the cost. It's significantly a lot cheaper than ordering a whole new planter because like I say, you're utilizing your equipment that you already have. The other side of it would be, we just got off of times of shortage of inventory and everything like that and we were allocated only so many brand new complete units that customers had to look at different options to be able to keep up with times, keep up with technology and have their farm grow as successful as possible.

Tony: Yes, and one of the things I always point the finger at is it's like buying a used car or a used vehicle of any sort. You might find what you're looking for if you're shopping the used market, but you may have to forfeit this option or that option or whatever it may be. Short of, like you said, ordering a brand new planter to get exactly what you want, you got to go on the hunt to find in that used market, find the technology you're looking for and maybe that technology you're looking for, you have to forfeit something else. This really opens the door to allow customers to get into that newer technology. Maybe they have that 2015 bar that they bought brand new in 2015. They've really enjoyed it. They're happy with it. They know what maintenance has been done to it. Here we are in 2024 moving into 2000 model year 2025 planter orders here shortly. It's a 10-year-old planter. They want newer technology and this really opens that door to get them there. The next thing I want to talk about, Colin, is when you order a PUK, whatever level it may be, what do we get in that PUK kit? How does it come to the dealership from the factory?

Colin: Basically you look at it as like a menu. You look at the menu as far as how you want the planter to be built. There are so many different variations and options of how these PUKs can be sent to us and installed on the planter. Basically, all said and done with, you're going to basically get everything from the bar back. There are some things that you could utilize from your old planter, such as like gauge wheels or closing wheels, assemblies, different things like that. You're essentially going to get new parallel arms, new downforce, new shank, and then new meters and then all electronic cabling.

Tony: If this is a full-blown meter upgrade, we're not just getting a meter to slap on the iron that we already have. We're getting new iron with this?

Colin: Yes, absolutely. We have to have new iron just because of the capability, the size, the fitting of all of the new meters and everything, plus the speeds that we could potentially be going. They're a lot more durable and stronger than what they have been in the past. That's why we're updating everything.

Tony: You are pretty much getting a brand new planter. You're not getting the hydraulic hoses and you're not getting the bar and I suppose the transport wheels, the wing wheels, things like that is dang the same. Other than that, the components that really, really matter, it's all coming brand new when you order one of these is what I'm understanding.

Colin: Yes, you're exactly right. You're basically getting a new planter bolted onto your bar.

Tony: You talked about, you go through this menu. There's a lot of different things that you can choose. You're essentially building a planter, like you said. There's a lot of different ways to do this. Let's go through, let's talk about what those options are, what a customer can get when they're interested in ordering a PUK.

Colin: Probably the number one thing is basically you got to pick your speed you want to go, if you will. There's MaxEmerge 5e, which is an electronic drive, Pro-Series, ProMAX 40, if you will, what you've been used to meter, your standard speed, it's got a seed tube with the drop in it. That's one selection. The other side would be is going up to an ExactEmerge, where you're getting the precision, you're getting a brush belt, you're getting delivery of the seed right down to the seed trench and the capabilities of up to 10 miles an hour. After that, you can pick and choose different things from there. Again, if you want to use your old gauge wheels, you can keep your old gauge wheels. If you want to update to new ones, you're like, "Hey, maybe I want to go with spoke gauge wheels." You can get spoke gauge wheels. If you feel like, that 10-year-old bar, your row cleaner's on there, or maybe not up to date, we can get a whole pneumatic adjustable row cleaner set up for the front of it bolted on. We can get closing wheel assemblies. We can get pneumatic closing wheels, just a huge whole gamut of options that you can get.

Tony: Now, some of those options are, we need to have that major upgrade prior to those little individual options, is that right?

Colin: For sure.

Tony: Customer does that. They decide, okay, this is what I want to do. These are the components that I want. How is it coming to us and how is this whole process finishing up?

Colin: No, you're basically coming in and ordering it just like you order a brand-new planter. It is going to come with a serial number. Your planter is going to get a new serial number that's going to reference all of the new components that you have on it. They'll come to us delivered from the store. Usually, they'll fully complete two-row units on a pallet at a time, and then a few extra boxes with all the wiring harnesses and new controllers inside of that.

Tony: That makes it very easy for the customer to be able to get what they need. We get it installed for them, or I guess they can install it if they so choose. That's the process, like you said, getting a new planter.

Colin: Yes, you're ordering a new planter. It's essentially getting here, all the units show up. We get in contact with the customer. We tell them, "Hey, bring your old planter in." The customer has the option to take off, strip off as much of that bar that he wants to maybe potentially keep or get rid of. We can do it all complete. Then we just start adding components back onto the planter, almost like an assembly line.

Tony: Let's talk Model Year 25 Precision Upgrade Kits. Here we are in May. The Precision Upgrade Kits, you may or may not have known, that planter orders and Precision Upgrade Kit orders actually closed for a little while, so the factory could do some rearranging, retooling, getting set for this new order period. Let's talk about the Model Year 25 Precision Upgrade Kits, when ordering is going to open, what the requirements are going to be, and we've actually got a couple of new offerings that are going to come out as well. Let's start out, Colin, there's a big change happening with Model Year 25. Let's talk a little bit about what the requirement is going to be if a customer wants one of these new Precision Upgrade Kits.

Colin: One of the requirements that is going to have to be is that we're going to have to run a new G5 display, whether it's a G5 or G5 Plus, Universal, Xtend, and that have an Ethernet cable on the tractor. That's because of the technology that's going to be coming in the future.

Tony: With that, so we get Seed Star 5. Seed Star 5, big change. We're going to be jumping up to that Seed Star 5 software version or user interface. That's what we need, that requirement of the G5 display and the Ethernet connection. We've also got a couple of new offerings. There's a couple of new technologies that are going to come out with Model Year 25. Let's talk a little bit about each one of those, Colin.

Colin: Yes, just with technology changing, it's just like everything. Information's got to flow back and forth. By adding this Ethernet cable, with the new features that are coming out, we're able to flow that information back up to the display through a different route to that Ethernet cable. The reason that is is because some of the new technology that's coming out, like ExactShot that's available, is where basically it is going to do a burst of fertilizer directly on the seed instead of a continuous shot of fertilizer as you go through the field. I think it cuts your fertilizer down to 60% of use on average. Then the other side of it is there's going to be what they call Furrow Vision. Basically, there will be a camera mounted just behind your opener disc and we'll take snapshots of your True V trench and how the seed is laying down inside of that trench, how that trench is formed, if it's collapsing, if it's not, different things like that. If you can just visualize, we're taking screenshots and images and sending them back and forth. With our old system, we just couldn't get it, that information back there. That's why we're having to add this Ethernet cable to it.

Tony: Those are two very cool new technologies that are going to come out. Like you said, ExactShot being able to save upwards of 60% of your input cost when you talk in-furrow fertilizer and then Furrow Vision, being able to see inside that furrow, looking at, are we getting residue inside the furrow. Are we getting good enough seed placement with what that furrow looks like for downforce and depth and all of that stuff. On top of that, we're getting a map layer, an agronomic map layer of furrow depth that we're going to get to see in the operation center. A lot of new technologies that we're going to be able to make educated decisions off of. With ExactShot and Furrow Vision, Colin, what does that look like as far as compatibility, orderability? Tell our listeners a little about that.

Colin: It's going to be first started out with coming out in 25. Yes, we're going to need that G5 display with that ethernet cable. From what I hear is we can't retrofit it back on any of the old ones without upgrading your wiring and everything like that. It's an attachment that can be put on 2025s and newer.

Tony: Yes, that's correct. If you do want to get it on, it's going to have to be a Precision Upgrade Kit, we're going to have to upgrade the infrastructure of that planter to a SeedStar 5 planter. Now with ExactShot, you can get that ordered from the factory on many different models, many different planters. It's also going to be a PUK. There's going to be the ability to put that on 1775s, 1795s, a DB44 and a DB60. Now that's where it is today for the Precision Upgrade Kits, but that's not necessarily saying where it's going to be tomorrow. Then on top of that, so very similar to what we're doing with the See & Spray technology. Having those license units, when you utilize the technology, you pay that fee or that license fee to utilize it.

ExactShot does come with that same business model of $5 per acre. Now that being said, you don't have to run that ExactShot technology. Maybe you're going to put down some sort of an info application on your soybeans, but you just want to run a continuous flow, you turn off pulsing mode, you run continuous flow, it's just like a traditional fertilizer system, you do not have to pay that per acre cost. Great options there for ExactShot.

Then FurrowVision, there's still more to come. FurrowVision is going to be a little bit later of a launch. Then there's going to be more information coming on compatibility closer to the launch of that product. Then the last one, ExactChem. I know you and I Colin, we were talking prior to the recording of this, you and I, we don't really know much about this. There's not much information, but essentially, it's an electronic-driven granular insecticide solution. Very limited availability on that. It's going to be on very select planters. That is another offering.

With all of this stuff, the planter PUKs, the technology, everything like that, Colin, when can I start ordering this stuff? Should I be talking to my salesman now my account manager at RDO? What do I need to do if I were a customer interested in any of this?

Colin: Yes, absolutely. Conversations need to be made sooner than later. Our early order program starts June 4th. That's for both ordering a whole complete planter or these PUK kits.

Tony: Get your notes down, do your homework, be prepared. Like Colin said, whether you want to order a brand new planter or you want to get into a Precision Upgrade Kit and just get into some of this technology, everything opens up June 4th.

One of the things that really stands out to me is when we talk Precision Upgrade Kits, everybody always assumes that we're talking, going from an XP row unit to an ExactEmerge or going from MaxEmerge 5 to a 5e or whatever it may be, but there's so many other solutions out there when you were naming off all of the technologies that we can put on as a Precision Upgrade Kit. What I like to call is the PUKable planters or PUKable Precision Upgrade Kits, we have other solutions. One of the ones that sticks out to me a lot that I've seen is when we go back to the early days of ExactEmerge, we did not have IRHD or Individual Row Hydraulic Downforce. For those customers that maybe they have an ExactEmerge planter, but they have pneumatic or active pneumatic downforce, they can upgrade, they can get a PUK and just put IRHD on and increase their experience and their performance of their planter by putting hydraulic downforce on.

Another one that comes to mind, Colin, ExactRate. Maybe you've got a 5e or an ExactEmerge currently today, but maybe you're just using a ground drive pump or something like that when you're dealing with orifices and all that other stuff, you can get a Precision Upgrade Kit to put ExactRate on. Is that what you're seeing too out in the country talking to customers?

Colin: Yes, absolutely. Yes. They're thinking that, "Oh, I'm just going to have to start all over again and get everything from the bar back," but I'm like, "No, you already have some of this technology and we could just add to it, just get a little bit more flavor on it, whatever you will," that customer with that 2015 bar, he was worried about, "Oh, I like that new technology where you can get the hydraulic cylinder on the frame. It pushes down and so you have a frame weight distribution," that's a kit we can add onto that planter as well too. Once you order a planter and you think that that's it, you can always add to it.

Tony: It's not just the meters. It's not just the row units. There's all these other solutions. I encourage you go out and talk to your local salesman, local RDO account manager, and find out, ask the questions, find out exactly what the capabilities are. Now before we wrap up here, Colin, like I said earlier, you've sold a handful of these kits, you've talked with customers, whether it's buying a new planter or getting into a Precision Upgrade Kit, is there one story, one success story that comes to mind that you could share with our listeners about your experience working with a customer, getting that Precision Upgrade Kit, and then seeing that thing run in the field?

Colin: Yes, absolutely. I got back to the time of talking about, inventory shortages and different things like that. Plus, it also gets back to this was a story of inventory shortage. Then the customer just not knowing how the year was going to turn out on whether he's going to spend money. Early order program, maybe runs out. These PUKs are still orderable and available afterwards and can be still installed, usually before the next spring. Customer couldn't get a brand new planter, because A, we didn't have enough availability of them, or we were sold out of them. Then he also didn't exactly know how his year was going to turn out. He wanted to wait a little bit. He waited a little bit, we ended up getting a Performance Upgrade Kit ordered, was able to still get it put on that spring yet he was able to use it for that spring. Things that he really loved about it, these electric drive planters, there's so much that you can do just sitting in your shop, you can basically run these planters just like a planter, you have 24 test stands, or 36 test stands, depending on how many rows that you have. We had that planter all ready to go set up. We felt very confident that we were going to pull out in that field, drop it in the ground, and just take off and go.

Tony: Yes. That's the other thing you talked about getting it ready, getting it prepared, availability, getting it on time, installed in time, and then getting it out to the field to utilize the technology. That's the other thing I always think about. We've seen it recently. Planters, you have a window to order a planter. Previously, we had some allocation or some limited availability. Now that window is going to open up a little bit, but we still only have that certain window to order those full-blown planters. That being said, these Precision Upgrade Kits, aside from this short window, they closed ordering, we can pretty much order a Precision Upgrade Kit whenever we want. Now, I don't recommend waiting till the last minute but you could essentially, based on pending availability, pending on components and what is needed, you could essentially order a Precision Upgrade Kit in let's say, January, and potentially have it in order to plant for that crop year. Correct?

Colin: Oh, yes, absolutely. Yes. That's exactly about the same timeframe of when I ordered that one for this customer. It was a little apprehensive and nervous of whether it was going to get here. Now, we ordered it, let's say January, maybe early part of February, and we had it late March, early April. There is a lot of labor-intensive times to get it installed on the planter. We had it done plenty of time and he was ready to go to the field. Like I said, you're able to do so much after it was installed in the shop that he felt comfortable that we're going to be able to drop it in the ground and go.

Tony: Aside from ordering in that June, July, August, September timeframe, maybe you're thinking on it, you're thinking on it and you just, you drag your feet too long, planter order's closed. The dealership you work with said, "Gosh, sorry, we can't get you a planter anymore." You can still get into a Precision Upgrade Kit come that December timeframe, January, February, whatever it may be. Again, based on availability, I'm not going to guarantee the delivery of these PUKs at a specific time, but it opens the door to make a decision. Maybe you're like, "Gosh, we should've got into that new planter. We never pulled the trigger, but now we can get into the new technology and keep the bar we have."

It opens up so many doors, Colin, whether it's the technology, the features, the functionality of the planter, but also the orderability. Being able to get these technologies when you want them, without having to wait or without having to focus on that specific planter ordering window.

Now, if a listener wants to learn more about Precision Upgrade Kits or, maybe this new model year 25 technology, where can they go? Who can they talk to?

Colin: Online, will be a good source directly from John Deere, but otherwise, RDO equipment, any one of your account managers, any one of our precision product specialists, anybody can get you the information that you need to know.

Tony: Absolutely. Thank you very much, Colin, for taking your time out of your very busy day. We are here smack dab in the middle of planting season, late to the game, dragging my feet, getting this podcast recorded, but both you and I were busy. We made it work when we could. Thanks again for doing this and good luck, be safe and have fun during this planting season.

Colin: You too, Tony. Thank you.

Tony: Please take a moment to subscribe to this podcast if you haven't already. You can subscribe to the show on the many podcasting apps that we're streaming this out to such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, as well as many others. While you're out there, drop us a review. We'd love to hear what you think about the show. Lastly, make sure to follow RDO Equipment Company on Facebook, Instagram, and X, and catch all of our latest videos on YouTube. You can also follow me on X @RDOTonyK.

Tony Kramer

Tony Kramer is the Product Manager of Planting Technology and a Certified Crop Advisor at RDO Equipment Co. He is also the host of the Agriculture Technology podcast. If you have any questions for Tony or would like to be a guest on the podcast, you can find him on X at @RDOTonyK.

Staying Connected
Join our email list to receive information on featured equipment, store promotions and sales, special announcements, and more.