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Consider Residue Managers for Soybeans

While residue managers are popular – even a necessity for no-till corn – you probably haven’t bothered adding them for soybean planting. Beans are less fussy; if you can get them into the dirt, they’ll grow. 

However, no-till farmers like Brad Freesmeier are seeing benefits from more accurate soybean seed placement and more uniform emergence by using residue managers. Freesmeier sees residue managers as an important part of the planter for corn and soybeans.

Freesmeier and his son, Matt, row-crop about 500 acres of 30-inch corn and 500 acres of 15-inch soybeans in southeast Iowa. The fourth-generation farm has been in no-till for more than 25 years. They also have a 160-cow commercial beef herd.

Air Adjust row cleaners
For the 2013 planting season, Freesmeier switched to a new Yetter 2940 Air Adjust row cleaner. The system is controlled with two air bags, features parallel linkage, and enables fine adjustments from the cab. The row cleaner was one of the first released by the Illinois manufacturer.

The Freesmeiers installed it in their shop on a 12-row Kinze planter. The planting units are on twin rows for 15-inch beans or 30-inch corn rows.

“When we’re planting corn, we just use the back 12 units,” says Freesmeier. “For beans, we push a button, and the front ones come down automatically. It makes switching from corn to beans a piece of cake.”

Normal trash managers have a V-shape blade that clears a 6-inch bed for the seed. The trash managers work great for single-row units on 30-inch spacing but not so well when there’s a second row of units for 15-inch soybeans.

“Normal trash managers, at the back, throw the trash far enough that it covers up our front bean rows,” says Freesmeier. “If we use the normal pitch, the back ones go through and cover up the front seed bed space. We don’t want that.”

The 2940 Yetter managers have less pitch angle. By decreasing the pitch, they don’t throw the trash as far. 

Adjust on-the-go
Adjustable residue managers are fine in principle, but they can be frustrating to use. “They may work fine, but we have to stop, drop, and get out to adjust 23 of them manually,” says Freesmeier. “If we adjust them too far or if the conditions change in the field, we’ll have to go back there again.”

Yetter has addressed the problem with its 2940 Air Adjust managers. The Freesmeiers mounted an air compressor on the front of their planter, connected it to all 23 units, and wired it to a cab monitor. It applies air pressure to raise and lower the units. The system has presets for corn or soybeans and has system-wide depth control.

“Now, we adjust it as we’re going across the field,” says Freesmeier. “We look back and just turn the dial if we want to adjust it some more. The more pressure we put on, the deeper they go. We can set the ones behind the tires to be more aggressive, too, if the ground is compacted a little more.”

Freesmeier says 2013 was a great year to test the system. It saved him a lot of time and led to better emergence. “If we get the trash pushed away properly, the row units don’t bounce over cornstalks in the path, which creates more even seed placement and allows the closing wheels to operate better and more consistently,” he says. “All of these benefits will add up to more even seed emergence across the field.”

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