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John Deere Drill and Air-Seeder Firming Wheel Modifications

The John Deere 750 drill Phil Needham spends many hours testing and evaluating different drill/air-seeder attachments and modifications. This enables Phil to make sound seeding system recommendations to producers around the world. The John Deere 750 drill (pictured to the right) was evaluated with most of the currently available attachments, plus more still under development. The modifications on the drill to the right included 11 different styles of firming attachments (including two different plastic seed firmers and 9 different firming wheels), plus 3 different style gauge wheels and 4 different style rear closing wheels.

John Deere Single Disc Seed Slot Characteristics

The John Deere wheel

The image to the right illustrates the John Deere single disc seeder seed slot when viewed from above. Within moist no-till conditions (and when using a new disc blade), the seed slot frequently measures between 5/8 and 3/4” of an inch in width, with a slight tapered furrow wall opposite the disc blade. As the disc blade (and boot) wear, the width of the seed slot decreases in width and the angle of the taper increases. Close inspection of the image to the right will reveal that the factory installed John Deere 1” firming wheel (which was sold until summer 2006) was too wide to fit down within the seed slot to effectively press seeds into moisture. Pressing seeds into moisture is very important, especially when trying to obtain a stand in lower moisture soil conditions.

Concrete Moulds

The image to the right illustrates the John Deere single disc seeder seed slot when viewed from the end. This image was obtained by lifting up the seed firming wheel and closing wheel with string and driving forward with the seeder engaged in the soil. Notice the profile of the seed slot within a moist silt loam soil type in a no-till system. Also notice how the seeds are loosely dropped into the bottom of the seed slot. Pushing these seeds in the base of the seed slot (we call it imprinting) is critical within low moisture conditions to create uniform emergence. Most commercial seed firming wheels on the market are too wide and the wrong shape to accomplish this task consistently across different soil types and moisture conditions.

Concrete Moulds

The image to the right illustrates some of the many concrete seed slot molds Phil Needham utilized in the wheel design process. Different soils, seeding speeds, seeding depths and moisture levels all have an influence on seed firming wheel performance and most seeding environments across the US have been tested.

Current John Deere Firming Wheels

New Wheels

The image to the right illustrates both the former 1” x 10” seed firming wheel (right wheel) together with the more recent John Deere 0.8” x 9” seed firming wheel (left wheel) which was introduced during the summer of 2006. Despite the new wheel being 0.2” narrower and tapered on both sides, these improvements still don’t allow it to fit down into the seed slot in most field conditions. Increasing the firming wheel down-pressure does help to push it down into the seed slot within loose soils, but any weight transferred to the firming wheel must be subtracted from the down pressure available to the disc opener. Weight transfer is important because weight on the disc blade is frequently a factor which limits performance of the John Deere single disc seeder, especially in hard dry soils or when working with heavy residue.

JD seed slot diagram New Wheels

Notice how the 1 x 10” John Deere firming wheel tears soil out of the sidewall as it exits the moist soil.

New Needham Ag V8 Firming Wheel

Needham AG Wheel

The new Needham Ag V8 firming wheel (illustrated right) has just been released and features all of the benefits of the former Needham Ag V6 firming wheel, in addition to a larger rubber periphery to provide greater flexibility. This increased flexibility will help keep the V8 wheel down within the seed slot, especially when operating on hillsides and when making slight turns.

Needham Ag V8 Firming Wheel - Specifications

Needham AG Wheel
  • 0.6" soil engaging working width with tapered profile to match the seed slot shape.
  • High quality 5203 double ball bearing which should outlast most other firming wheel bearings on the market (The 5203 bearing is the same bearing which comes standard within the John Deere gauge wheels).
  • Durable high density rubber compound provides a long life.
  • 10" diameter
  • New round head bolts to help improve residue flow, especially in no-till conditions (see image right).
  • Each V8 wheel is shipped with a longer (3.5”) Grade 8 x 5/8” bolt, nut and washer to mount the wheel to the existing firming wheel arm. (A longer bolt is required as the 5203 bearing is wider than other firming wheel bearings).
Needham V8 Wheel diagram

To compare the features of all the different firming wheels available on the US market, click the image to the left.

For more information, together with pricing – please click the link below.

Product Guide

Needham Ag Technologies, LLC - 4911 Kentucky 81 North - Calhoun, Kentucky 42327