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Precision Planting Hosts First Events at New Farm
Precision Planting began hosting farmers at the company’s new Precision Technology Institute near Pontiac, Illinois, this month. Small groups of farmers have been invited to attend field shows at the farm throughout the remainder of the growing season.
The company announced the acquisition of the Illinois farm at its 2018 Winter Meetings in January. Since then, Commercial Agronomist Jason Webster and his team have been managing several corn and soybean studies at the site. There are more than 50 test plots on the 200-acre farm.
Precision Planting expects more than 1,500 farmers to tour its experimental plots this season. At each event, agronomists and product specialists lead small groups through field trials.
At a recent event, Region Managers Eric Huber and Jason Portner demonstrated the consequences of improper downforce to kick off one tour.
We’re looking at roots on corn plants that were planted in a situation with excessive DownForce. pic.twitter.com/7yOwBHZ0LT— Natalina Sents (@Roots_Journey) July 19, 2018
They dug to show corn that was planted with too much downforce was suffering from restricted roots. Planting with excessive downforce can cause sidewall compaction and smearing in the furrow. As the seed germinates and begins to develop its root system, the corn plant will be challenged to break through the firm soil to access water and nutrients. Instead, roots end up growing in a line, following the seed trench. Some people call this symptom tomahawk roots.
Here’s corn planted with light DownForce. These plants got stressed. Notice the small stalks. Ears were small and low, too. pic.twitter.com/Nwn2zXtaM2— Natalina Sents (@Roots_Journey) July 19, 2018
Corn planted with light downforce was struggling as well. When there isn’t enough downforce during planting, corn may be planted too shallow, which is especially challenging when the soil is dry. The stressed plants had noticeably smaller stalks, and the ears that had begun to form were significantly smaller and lower than the ears developing on properly planted corn.
With the proper DownForce these corn plants developed strong sturdy stalks. Ears were coming along nicely too. pic.twitter.com/88CvRSyiRm— Natalina Sents (@Roots_Journey) July 19, 2018
The team took time to explain how Precision Planting DeltaForce can help farmers achieve proper downforce.
“With our DeltaForce product here at Precision Planting, we feel like we can do a very good job of getting the correct downforce. We can have it in an automated fashion, we can sense as we plant, and get the right weight on the row unit to maintain ground contact to get the right planting depth,” Webster recently explained in a video.
Eric reminded farmers in attendance, “Get out of the cab to check DeltaForce is doing what you want it to. Keep your eye on the sidewall.”
The group of farmers walked a little farther down the field and came to a stop in front of a row of posters explaining the consequences of poor singulation.
A skip or double doesn’t seem like a big deal when you’re just looking at a row or two. But, spread over a field, several misplaced seeds can lead to a dramatic drop in yield.
Although the trouble with skips obviously translates to fewer plants, doubles aren’t good either. When two seeds are planted on top of each other, seed is wasted. If they both germinate and survive, the plants are typically small, putting on small ears if any at all.
According to the company, for every 1% decrease in singulation, corn yield decreases by about 2.5 bushels.
High Speed Planting
At the next row of posters Portner stopped to discuss high-speed planting. The group of farmers agreed, when Mother Nature gives producers a less than ideal planting window, there are three ways to overcome it. Farmers can plant faster, get bigger equipment, or run more hours.
When Mother Nature gives you a crummy planting window your options are plant faster, get bigger equipment, or run more hours. pic.twitter.com/Iqq3r8VyUf— Natalina Sents (@Roots_Journey) July 19, 2018
The company has a number of technologies compatible with high-speed planting.
Two large arcs of cornstalks mark the beginning of another demonstration plot. A couple of large white posters identified one arc that was planted with turning compensation technology, and one that was not.
In each arch, on the inside of the curve in the tightest part of the turn it was obvious. The signs weren’t necessary to point out the differences.
Planting without turning compensation. pic.twitter.com/0MC0cLDXvh— Natalina Sents (@Roots_Journey) July 19, 2018
Without turning compensation, population was high. Rows on the inside of a turn had weak, thin stalks of corn. The impacts of competing for nutrients and moisture with closely neighboring plants were clear.
Planting with turn compensation. pic.twitter.com/ENgWZukjp0— Natalina Sents (@Roots_Journey) July 19, 2018
The corn plants on the inside of the turn planted with turn compensation looked much healthier. Population was lower, and the stout stalks were spaced much more evenly. The developing ears had more length and girth than samples from the other side.
Another comparison. Can you guess which one was planted with turn compensation? pic.twitter.com/kG2BPZLKGt— Natalina Sents (@Roots_Journey) July 19, 2018
After that, the buggy pulled parallel to a large pit exposing the soil profile and root structure of several plants. One half of the plot was planted into compacted soil. It showed. The corn was shorter, and roots didn’t develop as deep.
Even from here you can tell the consequences of more compaction (left) vs. less compaction (right). Look at the root and plant size. pic.twitter.com/VsdyGfuc1U— Natalina Sents (@Roots_Journey) July 19, 2018
On the final lap of the tour, the buggy passed rows and rows of corn planted with different closing wheel systems.
Going forward Jason Webster is looking forward to studying closing wheels. Maybe we should be using different wheels at different points in the planting season, he suggests. Early soil may be wetter. Later soil may be drier. pic.twitter.com/HlUrgyyt7Q— Natalina Sents (@Roots_Journey) July 19, 2018
While the group didn’t get out to compare each sample, Webster said he looked forward to keeping an eye on the experiment the rest of the growing season.
While one half of the group toured test plots, other farmers experienced “the sandbox” where they had the chance to plant with one of two high-speed planters on site.
Kickin’ the dust up running the high speed planter set up at PTI Research Farm in Pontiac, IL! So cool to see the precision equipment in action! Thanks to @precision_plant and @clintendress for having us yesterday! pic.twitter.com/RHOI9Gk5q0— Kayla Bennett (@kbent211) July 25, 2018
Specialists are on hand to answer questions about the tractors and other products.