In North America, most
seeders were never really engineered to plant no-till. For instance,
the original press wheels on all planters (and
so-called “no-till” drills)
were designed for the loose, dry conditions found
in tilled seedbeds—they were intended to pack the soil from the
surface all the way down to the seed, which was easily done in
loose tilled soil. Substantial packing was desirable to help the
seed draw moisture from beneath, since the soil near the surface
had dried with tillage.
In no-till (zero-till), this concept is terribly flawed. No-till
soils are resilient (structured) and don’t readily
fall back into the furrow. Plus, an enormous amount of pressure
must be applied at the surface to do any seed firming at all
down in the bottom of the furrow. In no-till, to get even 5 lbs
of pressure at seed depth might require 50 to 150 lbs. applied to
the press wheel at the surface, and even then it might
not be enough and certainly won’t be consistent
at seed depth. And you are
severely packing the sidewalls and soil over the seed (thru which
it must push) in attempting to do something down at the bottom
of the furrow. Why not just apply a precise amount of pressure
exactly where it’s needed—at the bottom of
In the early ’90s, this is exactly what the introduction
of the Keeton seed firmer was supposed to do. However, the Keetons
applied only a few ounces to (at most) ~ 1.5 lbs of pressure on
the business end of the Keeton. In many cases, that wasn’t
enough force. (For comparison, the in-furrow press wheels of the
JD 50, 60, & 90-series single-disc drills, as well as CNH’s
SDX drill, supply up to 20 lbs or more of pressure on a similar
surface area down at the bottom of the ‘v.’) The situation
is made worse by the fact that the nylon material used to mold
the Keetons loses its integrity (springiness) after awhile (apparently
due to absorbing moisture, ‘cold flowing,’ and UV degradation).
To remedy the situation, Exapta introduced the Mojo
Wire stiffener in 2006, which supplies up to 5 times the pressure to the standard
Keeton. In our testing and our customers' experience, we've simply
been amazed at how much better the germination consistency was—both
in terms of higher percentages of seeds emerging, and in uniformity
of timing of emergence.
Another noticeable improvement was in the self-cleaning
action of the Keeton against the furrow sidewalls. We’d previously
noticed that Keetons became more prone to mud buildup on the sides
of the tail when they had little down-force, either due to age
and fatigue, or due to loose settings on the tensioning screw.
Adding the Mojo Wire has improved this self-cleaning action, at
least in low-disturbance no-till. (Note that coulters or CIH reduced-inner-diameter
gauge tires increase the soil disturbance ahead of the Keeton,
which worsens the mud accumulation on the firmer and hinders the
self-cleaning action of the firmer against the furrow sidewalls.)
Mojo Wires fit most planter Keetons. Not recommended for LP (low-profile) tails.
Note: One drawback to increasing the pressure on the Keeton is
that the tail wears more quickly. If you put lots of acres on your
planter in a season, expect to completely wear out a set of Keetons
with the Mojo Wire installed. But at least the Keeton is doing
its job. If you’ve always struggled to get high emergence
percentages with your planter in no-till, inadequate seed firming
might be the culprit. Seeds should be ‘locked into’ the
bottom of the furrow—securely embedded in it. You
might be pleasantly surprised at how well your crops emerge with
the Mojo Wire—you owe it to yourself to try them.
Mojo Wires for drill Keetons
Exapta expands its highly successful Mojo Wire product line to include all current Keeton models for grain drills. Most grain drills lack an OEM in-furrow seed-firming (“seed-lock”) mechanism to apply a small but consistent pressure directly onto the seed at the seed’s location in the bottom of the furrow. Instead, these drills use trailing packer or ‘press’ wheels that run on the soil surface to try to compress all the soil above the seed to obtain sufficient seed/soil contact. These are problematic in the more structured soils of no-till cropping, and often result in subpar emergence if it doesn’t rain right away. Hence, many farmers install Keetons on these drills, which help, but often don’t have enough pressure. Exapta’s Mojo Wire solves this problem by applying 2x to 5x more pressure onto the Keeton.
We’ve had a number of requests for these, and some farmers and dealers were modifying our Mojos for planters to fit the drill Keetons. We thought we’d make it easier for them. For the drills that lack a firming device running in the seed furrow, these are a big plus in getting good emergence.
The Mojo Wires fit all of the 2-piece Keeton models (the only style sold in recent years) are now available through Exapta for $8 ea. This style of Keeton & Mojo will fit most Sunflower, Crustbuster, Great Plains, Marliss and certain other double-disc drills. These also fit the new Case-IH Precision 500 / New Holland P2800-series drills using a steel bracket ($10.75) available only from Exapta.