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Tillage on the edge

Your crop's bin-busting potential this fall is only achieved if the marriage between tillage and planting is consummated this spring.

The yield potential of even the most high-powered hybrids suffers unless seed is accurately singulated and then precisely placed in the furrow at a constant depth, says Kevin Kimberley. “That puts a huge burden on a machine that's expected to cover 9½ feet, spitting out 16 seeds per second (for a planter traveling 5¼ mph set to deliver a 30,000-seed population),” the crop consultant and Successful Farming magazine adviser points out.

Now consider the obstacles that planters face racing over surfaces resembling boulder-strewn roads complete with potholes and washboard ridges. That's not such a far-fetched analogy from the perspective of a row unit operating on fields full of fist-size clods, root-balls, and residue piles overlaying a seedbed that varies from fluffy soil to untouched hardpan. Such an environment is common in fields tilled by poorly maintained and adjusted implements.

Kimberley says a great deal of attention is invested in selecting a tillage system. But not nearly enough thought is spent on maximizing the way that equipment performs in the field.

“Thousands of dollars are spent on tillage equipment. But we devalue that investment by ignoring its operating performance,” Kimberley says. “Such negligence is made worse by the fact that we are running our planters faster than ever while doing less tillage.”

Kimberley's considerable experience in conducting field research and working with farmers across the Midwest as a crop consultant has been tapped to create the step-by-step maintenance and field adjustment guide you will find on the following pages.

Television specials

You can also join Kimberley for a televised short course the first two weeks in March. His counsel on tillage and planter row unit repair and adjustment is featured during a 30-minute Machinery Show special airing March 7 (at 8 p.m.), March 8 (at 10 a.m.), and March 10 (at 9 p.m.).

A second television special featuring Kimberley's tips on seed meter repair and calibration airs March 14 (at 8 p.m.), March 15 (at 10 a.m.), and March 17 (at 9 p.m.). All viewing times are Central.

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