What is That? – Planter Row Markers

April 26, 2019

Since the advent of mechanized crop production, farmers have needed a way to plant straight, even rows. Crooked rows are more difficult to spray and harvest. Uneven rows that overlap or skip are an inefficient use of seed. And frankly, crooked or uneven rows are obvious from the roadside and the source of friendly teasing among farmers.

Row markers are tools attached to row crop planters. A row marker is usually a folding arm operated with hydraulics. At the end of the arm is a round metal disk. As the planter is pulled through the field, the arm is unfolded and extended so that the metal disk makes a continuous mark in the soil. This gives the farmer a line to follow with the front tractor tires during the next pass through the field.


Have you ever wondered how crop rows can be so perfectly straight and evenly-spaced? For most of today’s equipment, the answer can be spelled with just three letters: GPS. GPS (Global Positioning System) technology on farm machinery allow farmers to precisely plant crops and apply fertilizers and crop protectants.


Even with the availability of GPS, row markers are still found on many planters. The next time you see a planter, check to see if it has marker arms attached. If the planter is in use with the marker arms folded up, the farmer is likely using GPS guidance.