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CropTalk: Everything Planters

December 2021

Published on Wednesday, December 1, 2021

If you are like me, you probably believe that the planting pass is the most important pass you will make all season. Jason Gahimer and I presented Everything Planters at Beck’s 2021 Field Shows and Becknology™ Days. The goal of this talk was to express previous research data and showcase new topics to help make that all-important pass the best possible. Below I highlight the topics we discussed at our field shows.

 

CLOSING WHEELS/SYSTEMS

Closing wheels have been a staple in our research for years. They have multiple jobs they must do well for optimal performance. Those jobs are: lessening sidewall compaction, reducing air pockets, and closing the trench from the bottom up. Many after-market closing wheels/systems can perform these jobs in varying conditions; however, in our research, a solid rubber closing wheel struggles.

 

STARTER FERTILIZER SYSTEMS

We’ve learned over the past three seasons that there is a placement advantage to starter fertilizer. Utilizing liquid UAN as the product being tested, we have seen very positive results when comparing 2x2 versus 2x2x2 application at the same rate. The reason we see this advantage is because of better root structure and growth. That is depicted in the picture at the bottom right. These systems also offer us the ability to safely apply a higher rate of starter fertilizer at planting.

 

DOWNFORCE

Downforce systems have evolved quickly over the past five to seven years. Gone are the days of spring and airbag downforce. Hydraulic downforce has taken over for many good reasons. Too little will promote poor/in-consistent seeding depth and emergence. Too much will introduce high levels of compaction and the potential of impeded root growth. Automated hydraulic systems aim to keep the downforce in the sweet spot. The planting map below shows applied downforce, which is the amount of force it took to keep 100 lb. of load on the gauge wheels. A spring system would be wrong most of the time, and an air system would struggle to react fast enough in this example. Remember, the trials in our plot research are 350 to 500 ft. long and are very consistent. We have seen slight to moderate yield gains with hydraulic downforce. We believe the yield gains will be higher on your operation in more variable terrain.

 

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ROW CLEANERS

Row cleaners are incredibly important to the performance of the planter pass. They clear the way for a smooth row unit ride to achieve consistent seeding depth. Hair-pinning of residue is reduced by good row cleaner performance. We have seen generous yield gains from different row cleaner settings. The data from our trials is below.

 

DISC OPENERS

For three seasons, we have tested a new spin on disc openers. These disc openers have a toothed design. They help to fracture the sidewall and make a wider seed trench floor. This helps ensure the seed gets placed at the bottom of the trench. Through our research, we have seen slight yield gains with the Prescription Tillage STP Openers.

 

SEED ORIENTATION

What if we could orient a corn seed a certain way? Would that change the planter pass? I think there is tremendous upside to controlling seed orientation. The most efficient way for emergence is to place the corn tip down. This year, our PFR locations had the chance to work with MK1 engineering. They have developed a product called AeroTube. It orients seed with the kernel tip down accurately. I think this could be revolutionary. Stay tuned for future insights on Aerotube.

 

HIGH SPEED

We have three seasons of high-speed data showing minor yield differences, depending on speed. In the highspeed realm, I think it is imperative that automated hydraulic downforce is utilized otherwise, it will be an unsuccessful venture. For the 2021 growing season, the PFR team had the opportunity to test the John Deere ExactEmerge™, Ag Leader SureSpeed™ systems, in addition to the Precision Planting SpeedTube® system. We are testing high speed in multiple tillage and soil conditions to offer the most robust research possible.

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Clayton Stufflebeam
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Clayton Stufflebeam

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