Bringing Precision to Northeast Planting

Every year as a crop grower, you take part in a cycle that transfers energy from the sun and nutrients in your soil to crops that will be used as feed throughout the following year. As you prepare to start the planting process, it is crucial that your planter is inspected for wear and tear, calibrated, and fully equipped for optimal performance. Recently, Dairy One has enhanced a planter in the Northeast with a variety of Precision Planting products that have been proven to troubleshoot and correct some of the most common issues found in traditional planters.

Research has shown that having too much or not enough downforce while planting can lead to decreased yield and performance. For consistent emergence and ideal growth conditions, seeds should be placed at a depth in the soil that is 30% moisture. The depth can range from 1.5” to as deep as 3.5”, depending on soil type.

Precision Planting Delta Force adjusts downforce by row based on soil conditions to ensure the seeds get placed at the specific depth defined as a margin in the tractor cab. Too much pressure can lead to compaction and restrict root growth from sidewalls, while not enough pressure can lead to the seed not being placed at the correct depth and moisture levels. In traditional planters, to switch the depth of the seeds you plant you must stop the planter and change the t-handle on the back. Smart Depth adjusts the depth accordingly, while Delta Force makes sure the seed gets where it is supposed to be. Traditional planters also use a single setting for each row instead of optimizing the downforce based on the soil conditions per row. The automation that Delta Force brings to the planter allows you to select the ideal gauge wheel weight from the tractor cab. Every time there is variability in the field, the hydraulic cylinder adjusts accordingly as it reacts 5 times a second.

Singulation is also crucial to measure for your planter. Plants should be spaced evenly so they have sufficient access to sunlight, water, and nutrients. The yield that is lost with skips in your field will not be made up by the plants on either side. Additionally, planting doubles leads to increased competition for water and other nutrients, decreasing the ear size and overall yield. If your planter is working at less than a 99% singulation, you are leaving money out in the field.

A 3-year study from Precision Planting found a loss of 2.2 bu/acre of grain corn per percentage of singulation reduction. That 2.2 bu/acre loss would equate to a conservative .22 T of corn silage loss per acre per decrease in singulation percentage. If your planter is running at a 95% singulation, you could be losing about .88 T/acre of corn silage. In 500 acres of corn planted, that turns out to be about 440 tons of lost yield. From our 2020 field studies using the Precision Planting POGO stick to measure seed placement and singulation, we found the average planter in the Northeast operated with a singulation rate of only 91.15%. Precision Planting vSet uses a high vacuum setting and floating singulator to correctly singulate to a 99% seed placement regardless of differences in seed size and shape.

Once you go to destroy the furrow you have created, it is important to avoid creating air pockets, have a mellow path to the surface, and have loose soil for moisture retention. Furrow Force is an automated two stage closing system that has integrated sensing. The first stage closes the trench from the bottom up to avoid air pockets, the second stage has stitch wheels where it applies just the right weight for optimal seedbed moisture and soil density.

There are several other technologies incorporated into this planter, like vDrive which replaces 138 parts with 1 electric motor on each row to minimize risk of breakdown holdups and maintenance during planting. The technologies should bring extra value and give farmers the ability to grow more corn per acre. “We believe that chasing the furrow moisture line, and closing it just right will lead to profitability,” says Tim Lewis, Precision Agronomy Team Manager at Dairy One.

This season, the planter will take part in a variety of demonstration plots. The purpose of these demonstration plots will be to measure and observe different management technologies. We will be analyzing variations between populations, fertility, downforce, and depth. Six hybrids will be planted at four different populations. Downforce, depth, and fertility will all have different commonly used settings as well as an automatic setting. After this planting season, there will be a large amount of data to collect up until and after harvest that will give farmers in the northeast a better idea of what Precision Planting technologies can do for their fields and yields. 

Hear from Dairy One Precision Agronomy Manager, Tim Lewis, about some of the latest Precision Planting technology his team has installed on a local planter.

For more information about our Precision Agronomy Services check out our website, email [email protected] or give us a call at 607-252-7550. Stay tuned for more information and updates regarding the demonstrations that will take place this planting season by following us on Facebook and signing up for our emails and selecting Precision Agriculture.