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Growers Field-Test the New Fendt Momentum Planter

The new Fendt® Momentum™ solves agronomic challenges, from pinch-row compaction to major field contours, like no other planter.

By Marilyn Cummins

Ask a group of farmers what they want their planter to do better, and the wish list might look something like this:

  • Carry as much seed and fertilizer as possible to save time spent refilling, but without losing yield to soil compaction under heavy central-fill tanks.
  • Stop causing pinch-row compaction between dual wheels.
  • Plant at a consistent depth with good singulation for even emergence, even on contours, terraces and rough terrain.
  • Transport between fields at higher speeds, even on narrow roads.
  • Less hassle when changing crops.

Sound like too much to ask from one planter? Two growers who tried out a prototype of the new Fendt® Momentum™ planter from AGCO say it checked those boxes, and then some.

The Fendt Momentum is an advanced planting system with AGCO-exclusive SmartFrame™ technologies, including its vertically contouring toolbar design and the optional Load-Logic™ weight management system that automatically senses loads, monitoring the weight on the planter and adjusting, says Larry Kuster, Senior Marketing Specialist at AGCO. It automatically adjusts tire pressures in the field while planting to minimize compaction, and then from field to road transport to improve ride quality and tire longevity.

“Until now, planting has always been one of the most stressful operations on the farm, with so many things to watch, and we’ve designed the Momentum to be the most agronomically advanced and highest-capacity planting system in the world today, yet one that is easy and intuitive to operate, often with just the push of a button,” says Kuster. “We like to call it ‘simple sophistication.’”

Impressed in Iowa

Todd Lundgren planted about 400 acres of soybeans with a 16-row Momentum prototype machine on his north-central Iowa farm near Lehigh in May 2018. “It had the biggest bulk tank I’d ever seen,” he says. Yet even with the twin tanks fully loaded with 65 bushels of seed each, he says the design of the planter protected his soil from sidewall compaction.

“There were big single wheels that deflated in planting position and pumped themselves back up when you transported it,” Lundgren says. “I thought that was a marvelous idea. You get more flotation in the field and less compaction.” It was his first time planting with a markerless planter, “which kind of scares a guy when you’re not used to that, because you have to trust your guidance and the wheels.” On Momentum, customers can place the wing wheels as they prefer, but Kuster says in most cases they will be on the outside of the last row units so that the outer wheel runs in the same path on the next pass, reducing compaction.

He was most impressed with the toolbar, which he says was tough and durable. In addition, “there’s a lot less to go wrong with the lift assemblies,” he says, “And the tire inflation system was just a big winner with me.”

Tough Fields Tamed in Illinois

For Scott Burroughs, the first test of the 40-foot Momentum prototype was getting it to one of his soybean fields 30 miles away from his Morton, Illinois, farm headquarters. “The Momentum, with its narrow transport, did a really nice job getting around on smaller rural roads where we’d normally have problems with traffic,” he says. “It traveled and transported very nicely, and that was one of the features I was very impressed with.”

The next test came in the field itself. “It wasn’t one of our kinder ones,” due to washouts and rough terrain, Burroughs recalls. “With our own planter, we’d have to slow down or stop to cross some of these washouts, because they were pretty severe. Whereas with this planter (Momentum), obviously we slowed down, but it floated right on across and did a very nice job of planting.”

He watched the DeltaForce® automatic downforce control readout on the 20|20 SeedSense monitor in the cab, and says he had much less loss of ground contact with the Momentum planter than with his planter in that field. “Because of the tandem wheels, flexibility and how the frame is set up, it definitely did a much better job on ground contact and getting the seeds placed at the right depth,” he says. Final stand counts verified the advantage, he says, “and I was glad to see that, because any planter can work in an easy field.”

Kuster explains that the vertical contouring toolbar on Momentum allows growers to save substantial time by planting any contour or terrace in the way they want vs. the terrace dictating how the planter is positioned. A sensor-controlled hydraulic system raises and lowers sets of secondary row-unit toolbars to extend the normal 15-inch range of vertical movement to an effective 68 inches, ensuring the row unit stays in its optimum position relative to the ground to plant at the correct depth. “You can’t plant what you can’t reach,” he says.

Unique Weight Management

Soil health is a priority for Burroughs, who has used track machines and high-flotation tires on equipment to reduce compaction. “The planter is one that we continue to get challenged with on how to best handle that compaction as it happens, mainly the pinch rows. One thing I really liked about the Momentum planter was the ability to inflate those tires, or in the case of field work, deflate them and increase that footprint and minimize the pinch-row effect, especially since we run liquid fertilizer on our planters. That’s a lot of added weight on there.”

Commenting further about the Momentum tire inflation system, Burroughs says “the weight management was another big plus I like,” being able to distribute weight evenly across the toolbar instead of it all being in the center of the planter. Without such a system, traditional central-fill planters can cause an 11-bushel/acre loss in corn yield from wheel-traffic compaction in center vs. wing rows, according to research from Pioneer. Burroughs referenced one of two modes in the Momentum Load-Logic weight management system – Load Balance mode, Kuster says. The other one is Controlled Traffic mode, which practically eliminates the load on the soil from the wing tires, transferring it to the center section. 

The unique in-line tandem arrangement of the center wheels, which line up with the tractor tires, also eliminates the pinch rows and sidewall compaction that come with side-by-side planter tires, Kuster says. “On this planter, there’s a wheel running along one side of a row behind the row unit, but the other side of that row is unimpeded for good root growth.”

Ready for 2021

Customers will be able to order Momentum planters from Fendt dealers this summer, with limited production starting in October for delivery for the 2021 spring planting season, says Conor Bergin, Fendt Brand Manager. The eight models for 2021 include 16-, 24-, 32-, 36- and 48-row configurations with row spacings of 15, 20, 22, and 30 inches, all available with liquid fertilizer. All are narrow-transport, folding to a compact 12 x 12-foot package with the touch of a button.

Momentum comes from the factory with core Precision Planting technology on board and is built to accept virtually any Precision Planting product, Kuster says.

Bergin points out that the new Fendt 900 Gen6 Series of high-horsepower row-crop tractors are a perfect fit for use with the Momentum planter. Introduced in North America in 2019 in five models from 296 to 415 HP, the 900 Series tractors “produce exceptionally high torque at low engine RPM and feature the Fendt-exclusive VarioGrip™ in-cab, tire inflation system that now can partner with Momentum’s weight management system to reduce yield-robbing compaction.”

AGCO will continue to offer the full range of White Planters® models through its network of dealers in order to meet the varying needs of all growers across North America, Bergin says.

Burroughs, who in addition to raising corn and soybeans is a Precision Planting Premier Dealer through his precision agriculture company, Bottom Line Solutions, admits to a learning curve with Momentum. “I’ll be honest with you, the planter’s intimidating, because it’s quite a piece of machinery. After you get over the initial intimidation – because it is unique and different from other planters – the actual operation was quite user-friendly and intuitive.”