Onsite installation

How to install OnSite FMS on any planter

Yes, you CAN install your own OnSite FMS system.

OnSite FMS is designed for easy installation by anyone with minimal mechanical aptitude. If you have a basic understanding of how liquid flows in a system and know how to turn a wrench, you shouldn’t have any problems installing OnSite FMS. 

Each step in the install process is designed to be as simple as possible, but when it has to be repeated 36 times, it can take a while. If you’re just replacing red balls on a 12 row planter, you can probably get the system installed in an afternoon. If you’re installing liquid for the first time on a large planter, it could take a couple days. Each install is as unique as the planter it is going on.  

This guide is a general overview of how we install OnSite FMS on most planters. However, every planter is different. The goal of this tutorial is not to give you rigid instructions, but rather to help you understand the whole process and give you some tips we’ve learned over the hundreds of installs we’ve done. Some of the steps can be done out of order or row by row if that makes more sense for you. Hopefully, this guide can give you some confidence and help you avoid some of our early mistakes.

On a side note, you may notice a lot of green planters in our photos. This is only due to their popularity in our area. The details vary from planter to planter, but the steps are the same for any make or model of planter.

Step 1: Mount your Flowboards

Mounting your FlowBoards is a simple bolt-on operation.  The bracket is predrilled with holes for mounting to the frame via the U-bolt and the FlowBoard.

If you are replacing a redball system, you will most likely just mount the FlowBoards in the same position. You may even be able to reuse the same bracket. 

However, unlike redballs, you don’t need to see the FlowBoards. Feel free to get creative with mounting positions. We do recommend mounting the FlowBoards towards the center of the group of rows each board will feed to make running the hoses to the row units easier. You can also bolt the boards directly to the planter as long as you can run both the wire harnesses and the hoses without interference.

  1. Mount the FlowBoard bracket to the planter

    You will receive large U-bolts with your kit that goes around the planter bar and attaches to the aluminum C-channel bracket. Position the U-bolt around the planter bar where convenient and bolt the aluminum C-channel bar to it via the larger holes at the bottom of the bar with the supplied nuts. The flat side will go toward the bar, leaving the empty cavity facing out. 

    If space allows, mount the FlowBoard bracket on the rear side of the planter so the FlowBoard will sit over the bar when mounted. This will minimize interference problems when the planter is folded. Often, you will have interference issues with other objects already mounted to the bar, so you’ll have to mount it on the front. Get creative if you have to. OnSite FMS can be installed almost anywhere as long as your wire harnesses can reach from board to board (extensions are available).

    If your planter requires you to mount your FlowBoards on the central beam, we offer an optional bracket that bolts on top of the beam. This style of mount features a centered bar that can hold a FlowBoard on each side of it, making it perfect for up to a 24 row planters (or a 12 row planter with dual products). The bracket also includes a mounting point for a 12V pump.  

  2. Mount the FlowBoards to the bracket
    Mount the FlowBoard to the remaining two holes toward the top of the bar with the included hardware. Mount the FlowBoards with the flowmeters facing forward toward the cab of the tractor. This ensures Row 1 on the monitor is the leftmost row when looking back from the tractor. If you mount the boards backwards without reversing the plumbing, Row 1 will be the rightmost row unit.
  3. Check for clearance
    Fold the planter carefully and make sure that the FlowBoards do not touch anything else mounted to the planter. Usually, the liquid tank is the biggest obstacle to avoid. Depending on your planter, you may need to trim the U-bolts down with an angle grinder so they don’t touch the center bar. Reposition the board as necessary until it clears everything.
  4. Repeat the process until all of the FlowBoards are properly mounted

Step 2: Mount your check valves (if necessary)

If you are installing liquid for the first time on the planter, you’ll need to install your check valves before we run our lines to the row units. If you bought them from us, you will receive brackets that allow you to bolt them directly to the parallel arm of your row unit (or wherever you want them). 

If your planter already has check valves installed, you can obviously skip this step and move on to running your lines to each row unit.  

  1. Mount the bracket to the parallel arms

    This is a simple one bolt operation. Use the supplied bolt through the larger hole on the angled end of the bracket to secure it to the parallel arm or any other mounting point of your choice.     

  2. Mount the check valve to the bracket
    Mount the check valve to the bracket using remaining two holes. You may either bolt it on with the included hardware or simply zip tie the unit to the bracket.
  3. Add your metering plates (optional)
    This doesn’t have to be done now, but many of our customers like to do this step while they’re already working on the check valves.
  4. Repeat the process until all rows have check valves

Step 3: run your lines to the check valves

Running your lines is pretty straight forward. We usually start at Row 1 and work our way across the planter, but you can do it however you choose. 

When you run your hoses follow the other hoses and wire already secured to the planter. This is almost guaranteed to be the safest path around the planter and should eliminate a lot of potential problems. Leave yourself a fair amount of slack in the lines, especially if your lines have to go across the fold. We will trim them up in the last step.

The steps below outline our process, but there isn’t a wrong way to run your hoses. 

  1. Add a VERY loose zip tie around the FlowBoard’s post to help wrangle hoses
    You’ll run all your hoses through this, as you go, so the looser the better.  Just click it a couple of notches, leaving it as loose as possible. This isn’t absolutely necessary, but it makes the whole process easier and makes the finished product look a lot nicer.
  2. Run your lines one by one with the supplied hose
    Run the hoses one by one. Both the FlowBoards and the check valves have slide-in fittings. Just push the hose into the fitting until you feel it seat. No tools or clamps required.

    It doesn’t really matter how you run your lines. We tend to start with row one and work our way across the planter, following the wires and hoses already mounted to the planter. Be sure to leave a fair amount of slack in the lines to allow for the planter’s natural movement. We generally start from the FlowBoard and run out to the check valves. Then we make sure we have enough slack for a nice loop above the FlowBoard, cut the line, and attach it to the correct flowmeter.  

    Here are some tips we’ve learned over the years.

    • Run your hoses with the planter partially folded.
      It will be easier to see where hoses need extra slack if the planter is partially folded. Open it up enough so you can work, but keep it as closed as possible.
    • Run with the loom on the planter whenever possible.
      This is a good general rule. The wires and hoses on your planter come from the factory with the correct amount of slack for folding. Use this as your guide.
    • Leave lots of extra slack for hoses that run across the hinge.
      Hoses that run across the hinge need lots of extra slack to ensure they don’t get stretched when the planter folds. We send plenty of hose, so give your planter some room to move.
    • Leave big loops above your flowboards for now.
      Leave about a 6″ high loop above the FlowBoards for now. We will trim them in the last step, but we may need a little extra slack when securing the lines to the planter once all the lines are run. We will trim the loops down and remove any extra slack in the last step, so leave yourself an extra 6″ so you don’t have to rerun a hose that was cut a few inches too short earlier in the process. 
  3. Zip tie your hoses to the planter starting the furthest away from the FlowBoard
    Now that all the hoses are run to the row units, we can secure them as a group to the planter. At this point you will likely have a fairly unruly mass of hose. We will straighten them all out and create a professional looking bundle when we secure the hoses together to the planter with zip ties.

    Start at the row unit the furthest away from the FlowBoard and work your way back to it. Add rows to the bundle as you move inward. Secure each new hose into the bundle with a zip tie, leaving the correct amount of slack for each check valve.  

    Straighten the hoses and make them all run together as a bundle, pushing any extra slack down the planter toward the FlowBoard. Do the same for the other side, moving any extra slack in individual lines down the row toward the FlowBoard. You should end up with a very professional bundle of hoses when you’re done.  

  4. Trim the hoses to length one by one
    Now that you’ve pushed any extra slack down the lines to the FlowBoard, you may have some pretty unruly loops. Your flowmeters also probably look like they’re about to jump off the board. This just means the hose loops are too long and creating pressure on the flowmeters.

    Now that we have all the lines secured to the planter at the correct length, we can do a final trim on our hoses to give our FlowBoard a professional look. 

    1. Detach one hose at a time from its flowmeter for trimming.
      Remove a single hose from the flowmeter by pushing down on the little ring at the top of the flowmeter while pulling up on the hose. It can get a little fiddly, especially if you have big fingers, but it’ll release easily once it goes. DO NOT remove more than one line at a time. Trust us.
    2. Determine the correct length and position of your hose. 
      Gently position the hose so that it has a natural bend down to the flowmeter. You want a gentle 3″ to 4″ loop above the board, but the hose will tell you what it wants to do. Now that the hose is loose, you can easily move it around and reposition it in the bundle until it is happy to connect to its flowmeter. The goal is to have each hose come up to the same height and curve down in a gentle arc to its flowmeter. It should look somewhat like a fountain of black hose when you’re done.
    3. Trim your hose and reinsert it into the flowmeter.
      If you did it right, your flowmeter shouldn’t bulge away from the FlowBoard. If you are unsure of how long to cut, err on the side of caution and leave a little extra. If the flowmeter bulges out away from the board, the hose is too long. Simply remove the hose and trim it again. You can usually tuck an inch or two of hose down behind the FlowBoard to fine tune the flowmeter tension as well.
    4. Repeat until each hose is trimmed and you are happy with the look.

A few tips:  

  • Remove one hose at a time from its flowmeter to trim it
    Only remove one hose at a time. Ever. Invariably something will distract you and you’ll lose track of which hose is which. If you must remove more than one at a time, label them before you remove them. Trying to trace back a hose to figure out which row it goes to is much more difficult now that they are all zip tied in a bundle to the planter. Save yourself the hassle.
  • The 3″ to 4″ loop above the FlowBoards allows for trimming later.
    Give yourself enough excess hose so you can easily trim the hoses if they start leaking at the fitting later. This is fairly common for this type of connector and is easily fixed by trimming and reseating the hose. By leaving extra slack, you should be able to trim the hose several times before you would have to replace it. Three to four inch high loops seem to be the sweet spot for low tension on the flowmeters with some extra room for trimming. Do the same by the check valves if you can.

Step 4: Connect your Fertilizer tubes to the check valve

Now that we have the lines run to the check valves, we just have to connect the check valves to the fertilizer tubes on the row units. If your planter already had liquid set up, this may already be done.

This is a straightforward process, but will vary considerably based on your hardware.  Just run a line from your fertilizer tubes up to the check valves. Here are a few things to keep in mind when you run your lines.

  • Be sure to leave a fair amount of slack to allow some movement in the row unit.
  • Make sure there are no potential kinks in the line.
  • Try to keep the hose path as short and direct as possible.
  • Test fit any row unit pieces that you may have removed to ensure there aren’t any interference issues with your final hose path.   

Step 5: Run Supply lines to the FlowBoards

  • The easiest way to run your supply lines is to connect your two FlowBoards, then splice the line and insert a barbed T fitting where you want the line from the pump to feed in (usually in the middle).
  • These instructions are for a two FlowBoard system, which is the most common setup.
  • If you have a 12 row planter (one FlowBoard), you will only run the supply line from the pump.
  • If your planter is larger than 24 rows, you’ll add an additional splice for the 3rd (& possibly 4th) FlowBoards.
  1. Run your 1″ line across the planter from one board to another
    Run your 1″ supply line from the leftmost Flowboard to the rightmost FlowBoard (or vise versa). Follow the existing wires and hoses on the planter to ensure you don’t get any kinks in the line when the planter is folded.
    • Leave yourself extra hose at both ends just in case. 
    • Do not connect the hose to the FlowBoard manifolds yet.  
    • We will be splicing the line and adding T fittings for the supply line from the pump and any additional FlowBoards if necessary. Be conscious of this fact when choosing how to route your hose.
  2. Run a supply line from the pump to the FlowBoard hose
    How you choose to route this will depend primarily on where your pump is mounted. The goal is just to meet the two hoses. Where the join happens isn’t critical because the lines will be pressurized, but we generally recommend trying to get the splice close to the center of the FlowBoard hose to ensure equal flow. Same rules apply: run with the existing hoses, leave yourself some slack, don’t connect the ends just yet. 
  3. Splice your line and insert the barbed T fitting(s)
    Cut the FlowBoard hose where you want the supply line to T in. Put your barbed T fitting inline and then attach your pump supply line to the T. Repeat the process by adding T fittings for any additional FlowBoards.
    •  Use a spritz of lubricating spray on the hose barb and inside the hose to make it easier to get the hose over the barbs (Our favorite is a silicone detailing spray named Dakota Products’ Shine Plus). 
    • Don’t forget the hose clamps before you put the hose on the fitting. 
  4. Connect your supply hose and secure it to the planter, working from the inside of the planter out to the FlowBoards on each end
    Once the supply line is attached (usually in the middle), start working your way from that point out to each end of the planter, securing the line with zip ties along the way. If you have more than two FlowBoards, get the Ts in place and attach any extra supply lines as you move outward.

    By the time you reach the outside FlowBoards, your hose should be perfectly secured exactly where you want it. 

  5. Screw in the hose fitting to the manifold and attach your supply hose
    Attach the supplied hose fitting into the manifold on the FlowBoard. Use a small amount of thread sealant on the fitting to ensure you won’t have leaks. Run your supply line up to the end of the fitting and cut the hose to length. Attach it to your manifolds using the supplied hose clamp. Remember to lubricate both the inside of the hose and the fitting. 

Congratulations! You’ve just run the perfect supply line and your plumbing is complete!  

Step 6: run your wire harnesses

Your wire harness will generally run along the same path as your FlowBoard hose. Be aware that the power harness does have to be plugged into the first FlowBoard (usually the one with the Bluetooth module). This will run to wherever you want to get your power from (usually a battery).   

  1. Start at FlowBoard 1 and run the power cable (Bluetooth systems)
    Start by plugging in your power cables to the flowmeter harness on FlowBoard one (rows 1-8 or 1-12). Leave a few inches of slack near the plug. Run your cable to your power source. This can be an Aux plug, a battery on the planter, or just another power source on the planter. It is not recommended to steal power from an electric pump, but anything else should be fine as long as it supplies continuous power.

    Wherever you get your power from, be sure any extra wire is coiled and secured to the planter. Usually, you will be taking power somewhere near the center of the planter, making it easy to coil and store any extra wire out of the way in the center stack.

    John Deere planters make it easy by giving you an Aux Power weatherpack plug that our system will plug directly into.  If you run Precision Planting equipment, you will likely have a power distribution center the harness can plug into. Just take out any dummy plug and plug in the power harness directly.

  2. Run the cables from FlowBoard to FlowBoard in a daisy chain
    Run the cable along the planter bar with the existing hoses and cables to the next board. Most systems will only have 2 FlowBoards to connect, but larger planters (over 24 rows) will have more. The order you connect the FlowBoards in will determine the order on your OnSite FMS screen, so it’s important to connect them in order.

    If you are using multiple liquid products, you should have sets of FlowBoards for each product. Connect the systems together like they were one system. You’ll assign each module to each product in the software setup, so it is ok that the products are mixed together as long as the boards are hooked together in the correct order.  

  3. Add the terminator plug to the last FlowBoard in the chain
    The terminator plug is one of the most important pieces in the system. It tells the system how many FlowBoards are connected and in what order. If you miss the terminator, the system can’t recognize itself.  The terminator plug will plug into the FlowBoard harness on the last FlowBoard in the system.
  4. Secure your excess wire to the planter
    Now that the cables are run, you know how much extra wire you have. We are pretty generous with cable lengths, so you will likely have some extra wire to deal with. Leave some slack by the plug and coil the wire in long loops behind the FlowBoards. Then secure the wire to the planter (or other hoses/cables) with zip ties, making sure not to pinch the wire loops.

Step 7: Install the monitor in the cab

This usually goes pretty quick. 

  1. Connect the red & black wires to power & ground

    Most modern tractors make this very easy and convenient. You can usually find an open power circuit in the cab that will power the system without problems.

    • If you are using a wired system, we recommend using a 30amp circuit to ensure the proper flow of power throughout the system.

    • Bluetooth systems just need power to charge the screen, which runs on simple 12V power.    

  2. Secure the RAM Mount 
    The system comes with a premium RAM Mount to hold your screen. Simply bolt the mount wherever you want it in the cab. 
  3. Attach the monitor cradle and power harness
    Mount he cradle to the RAM Mount. Run the power harness to the cradle and plug in the power harness.
  4. Drop the monitor in the cradle
    Simply drop your OnSite screen into the cradle and you are connected and charging. 

Step 8: Turn it on and check the system!

If everything is hooked up correctly, the system should recognize all the FlowBoards and all the rows automatically. If you are running dual products, you’ll need to assign which products go to which FlowBoards. 

  1. Turn on the monitor and make sure your modules are recognized
    It will take a minute for the system to boot up. Once it does, tap the OnSite FMS icon on the home screen to launch the software. Once it loads you will see the home screen with RUN, TOOLS, and EXIT. Tap the TOOLS button and then go to the MODULE SETUP screen.You should see a module listed for each FlowBoard on the planter with a green dot next to it. The green dot means it is recognized and communicating with the system.
  2. Configure your Products
    Go back to the HOME screen and tap the PRODUCT SETUP button. On this screen, you will set your target application rate.Tap the TARGET RATE box and type in your target application rate. It will automatically save when you leave the screen.

    If you are running dual products, enable the second product by tapping the on-screen toggle switch. You can then set the target application rate for your second product as well.

  3. Assign Modules to the second product (if applicable)
    Now that the second product is turned on, go back to the MODULE SETUP screen. You will see a new button named MODULE ASSIGNMENT on the right side of the screen. Tap it.Once there, you can assign which FlowBoards are assigned to which product. Just tap the on-screen toggle to switch between product 1 and product 2.

Step 9: install the motor controller (optional)

Many customers love adding a BENCO Motor Controller to the mix when they get OnSite FMS. If you are running an electric pump, it allows very fine grain control over system pressure (and therefor application rates) right from your cab. Motor Controllers are an very inexpensive way to add a lot of control to your liquid application on your planter.   

  1. Mount the BENCO Motor Control box where it’s convenient. 

    Bolt the control box where it is easy to adjust. Usually our customers mount them near the OnSite FMS screen so they can see in real time how slight adjustments are affecting the system’s application rates.

  2. Hook up the power (red & black wires)
    It doesn’t really matter where the power comes from as long as you are connected to at least a 30Amp circuit. We generally recommend you hook the system directly to the battery. You’ll be powering your pump off of this, so you need plenty of juice to make sure it runs flawlessly. 

  3. Run power to the pump (green & white wires)
    The green and white wires will run to the power terminals on the pump itself. Green is ground. White is positive.  Extension cables are available if you need them. 
  4. That’s it! Turn on the system and rotate the knob.
    You should hear your pump speed up and slow down. You can really see the effectiveness of a BENCO motor controller when it’s hooked up to an OnSite Flow Monitoring System. 

That's it!

Go out and get planting.

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