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PFR Report: Seed Orientation Study - AeroTube

Published on Wednesday, June 9, 2021

For many years, there has been discussion in the agriculture industry on the effects of placing a kernel of corn in the seed trench in a specific orientation on yield. To date, no one has been able to bring a planter attachment to the market that efficiently does this. 

Many farmers have invested time and money to ensure that their planters space the seed correctly and get the best singulation possible. However, not much thought has been put into the position of the seed in the seed trench. This year, Beck's Practical Farm Research (PFR)(R) team is working with a product called AeroTube from MK1 Engineering that orients the seed.

So, what is the orientation of seed that provides the best yield potential? If you ask experts that have studied this, they will suggest planting the seed tip down and the germ facing the adjacent row. In theory, placing the seed tip down will not require as much energy for the seed to emerge from the soil. This is supposed to help ensure a more even emergence and occurs because all of the seeds will have the same "route" to the surface. 

What this means is, when the coleoptile emerges from the seed when the tip is up, it naturally starts outgrowing down and must turn back towards the surface. When the kernel is planted tip down, the coleoptile naturally starts growing up towards the surface as it should. Therefore, it requires less energy for the seedling to emerge and the playing field is more even for the corn to emerge evenly when the seeds are all starting the same.

We took emergence notes on this study at the Kentucky PFR site. Minimal differences in the emergence between the treatments were observed. The entire plot seemed to emerge very uniformly. As we look at the plot, we are currently at the V3 to V4 growth stage. The oriented seed is more consistently at the same growth stage of V4 than the non-oriented, which bounces between the V3 and V4 growth stages, depending on which plant you are looking at.

Oriented Seed (planted with AeroTube)

Control: Standard Seed Tube

The other aspect of placing the seed in the trench with the germ facing the adjacent row affects our leaf orientation after the seedling emerges. We want the corn leaves to grow out into the row for two different reasons. Number one - weed control. Crop canopy is one of our best tools for combating weeds. If we can get the corn plant to start growing its leaves out into the row instead of growing into the plant next to it, we get the rows closed faster. The second aspect of this is the increased amount of sunlight that the plants can intercept by getting the rows closed more quickly.

When the corn emerged at the Kentucky PFR site, there were very noticeable differences in the leaf orientation from the treatments planted with the AeroTube compared to the treatments planted with the standard seed tube. This plot has not grown to the point of canopy closer, but we will be watching that closely as it does.

This has been a very interesting study to watch so far this year, and we are excited to see how orienting the seed affects the plant throughout the year.

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Author: Brandon Somers

Categories: PFR, PFR Reports

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