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Multi-hybrid planters into ag spotlight

By Staff | Apr 9, 2014

PRECISION AG STUDENTS from Mitchell, S.D., listen to Troy McKown, center, regional manager for Precision Planting, based in Aberdeen, S.D. McKown explains his company’s planter retrofit units enabling producers to plant according to field conditions. Students are, from left, Tucker Snedeker, Coledon Eimers, Nate Bares and Seth York.

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – The words “hitch ’em up, let’s plant” are long gone from the vocabulary of the nation’s farmers who once relied on a trusty team and simple corn planter to get their crop into the ground.

The term precision-planting has initiated a new chapter in agriculture as showcased at the March 18 Precision Planting Conference in Sioux Falls, S.D.

“We all want to do better, ” said Groton, S.D.-area farmer Kyle Schultz, “and are learning a lot as we get into precision planting. It’s important in farming today if you want to do better.

“A lot of your input costs, land prices and machinery cost are, for instance, fixed costs. It’s the variables like precision planting that give you a way to add to your yields.

“And, with today’s lower crop prices, you have to do all you can managing the best you can. This is when it comes to getting that future crop in the ground. As I look at it, everything after the planting is damage control.”

THE WORLD’S FIRST prototype multi-hybrid planter, developed by Raven Industries, in Sioux Falls, at work at South Dakota State University research plot in spring 2013. The prototype was made possible through cooperative efforts of Raven and SDSU with seed provided by Dupont-Pioneer. Components of the planter have since been incorporated into commercial planters with the capability to automatically change hybrid seeding on-the-go, based on GPS field mapping.

The message was a similar one coming from equipment and ag services representatives during the conference’s trade show.

Troy McKown, regional manager for Precision Farming, in Aberdeen, S.D., said “The big three keys we work with in precision planting are spacing, depth and germination.

“You want to focus on seeing what comes off that meter every single time you plant, to plant the optimal depth and one consistent (pass) across the field.

“You want to put that seed in the best possible environment possible to give it good growth potential and germination right off the bat.

“With what it takes to be in the game of farming, the producer needs to know about every square inch of ground and to make sure it’s giving the highest possible yield potential.”

ASSIMILATING WEATHER factors into the planting picture is gaining attention of producers. Terry Hansen, right, regional sales manager, The Climate Corp., talks the benefits of timely weather condition data included in the climate services from his company at the trade show portion of the March 18 Precision Ag Conference, in Sioux Falls, S.D.

McKown said the process “starts with good information, second-by-second, foot-by-foot from a field into the cab sensors.”

Terry Hansen, of The Climate Corp., a Monsanto-owned service, said the impact of environmental data on crop productivity shows strong growth among producer’s ranks.

This service option, Hansen said, allows producers availability of accurate and important 24-hour weather data and other information.

Working with 24-hour forecasts of rain or wind speeds on an hour-by-hour basis, Hansen said, combined with field condition data, gives the producer added information helpful in knowing which fields to work on next.

Across the aisle in the exhibit hall, Tyler Fruechte, Farmers Implement/Irrigation, of Brookings, S.D., said the new electric-drive Kinze 4900 corn planter includes its ISO Box, a software language communicating with all of the planter’s components.

“The bottom line especially with corn and bean prices is huge,” Fruechte said, “but can’t forget to look at potential down the road of saving money and putting that money back in the farmers’ pocket.

“That’s where all this precision application, planting fewer seed on rows on sandy hills where they won’t grow for instance, or more seed on the bottom land where it always yields the best and where it’s not wasted. It’s getting the most out of your aces.”

The world’s first multi-hybrid prototype planter developed by Raven Industries, in Sioux Falls, S.D., drew significant attention from attendees at a presentation by Dr. Peter Sexton, an SDSU plant scientist.

The prototype development resulted into a planter capable of automatically changing hybrids while seeding on-the-go based on GPS mapping.

Sexton summarized results of the October 2013 harvest of the corn and soybeans planted by the multi-hybrid planter.

These included four corn and two soybean hybrid lines planted in southeastern South Dakota, matched by plots in lowland versus upland conditions, based on the hybrids’ relative ability to deal with excessively wet versus dry conditions.

The corn plots, Sexton said, showed on average 5-bushel-per-acre yield bump with variable hybrid seeding.

The study, Sexton said, ranged from no advantage to an 8-bpa advantage, dependent on a particular combination of planting lines and trial sites.

Evaluation of the two soybean lines showed a 3-bpa yield advantage when seeded according to landscape position.

Proper field mapping and seed selection to match genotype with a given field position, Sexton said, will be critical for this approach to be successful.

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