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PFR Report: A Tail on Closing Wheels

Published on Wednesday, April 08, 2020

Uniformity and consistency are two terms we often heard when farmers describe their ideal field with a “picket-fence” stand crop. These types of stands go hand-in-hand with high yields. However, this is potentially the most difficult objective to achieve.

So, we posed the question, “how can we obtain this desired uniformity?”

In our Practical Farm Research (PFR)®, we have concluded that closing the seed trench and obtaining optimum seed-to-soil contact are necessary to achieve uniform emergence. Beck’s PFR has been on the hunt to improve uniformity in the seed trench by using different closing wheels for nearly ten years.

What’s the Solution?

Closing wheels have been a major component of our PFR testing. Over the years, we have tested several different closing wheels against the standard, two solid rubber closing wheels. Recently, five closing wheels have earned the title of PFR Proven™. 

Are Closing Wheels Enough?

In the last three years, we started questioning the standard even more. We are now putting the closing wheel tail to the test. The standard closing wheel tail that has been used for over 30 years has a minimal amount of vertical movement, resulting in potential inconsistencies in the trench. Another reason for inconsistencies in the trench could be that with this limited amount of vertical movement, the pitch of the closing wheels changes. When the tail moves up, the pitch of the closing wheels gets wider. Conversely, when the tail moves down, the pitch of the closing wheels gets narrower, struggling to close the trench successfully.

Schaffert 4 Link Closer

The solution to this problem could simply be an added set of parallel arms for the closing wheel tail. This is exactly what Schaffert Manufacturing created with the Schaffert 4 Link Closer.

The 4 Link Closer allows for the closing wheel tail to follow the contours of the ground and achieve a uniform close of the seed trench. Schaffert has also added a walking axle to its system. The 4 Link Closer walking axle allows the unit to travel more smoothly in the face of obstructions and changes in the soil surface. This PFR Proven product has seen yield increases in corn of 1.2 Bu./A. to 4.3 Bu./A. with the walking axle. In soybeans, it has shown a yield increase of +1.4 Bu./A. and 1.1 Bu./A., respectively.

Another potential solution could be adding a system with a set of springs to provide a constant amount of down pressure on the tail while allowing it to have a fuller range of motion vertically. The FastTrac Closing System runs with a set of small, concave discs that push the soil in over the trench. Then, a larger packing wheel runs directly over the trench to achieve proper seed to soil contact. With two years of PFR data, the FastTrac Closing System has shown an average yield increase of 2.9 Bu./A. in corn and 1.0 Bu./A. in soybeans.

This year, we will be testing the FurrowForce system by Precision Planting. It’s an automated system that is ran through a 20|20 monitor in the cab. Be on the lookout for data from this system and other new studies in the 2020 PFR Book!

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Author: Cody Clybourn

Categories: PFR, PFR Reports

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