Make every seed count
Make every seed count
Seed placement is something that farmers have worried about at planting time for years; digging seeds to ensure uniform spacing. Growers would also check how many knuckles deep a seed was planted, knowing that a different amount of knuckles was needed for different crops. In today’s world, placement means much more than simply "are seeds spaced evenly"; placement goes to the heart of how the farm is managed. Placement means harvesting sunlight, making sure conditions are correct, and selecting the correct seeds for the correct area of the field.
The metering system of the planter is the heart of the row unit and it needs to beat just like a heart, consistent and rhythmic. Whenever the rhythm of the meter is changed, a beat skipped or multiple beats occurring at the same time, there is an issue. When there is a skip in a field, sunlight is not harvested in that area and evaporation of soil moisture occurs, limiting the yield in that location of the field. When a multiple occurs, the investment in that spot has been doubled minimizing the profitability of that spot in the field. Singulation is a measurement of how well a meter is dropping one seed at a time; when singulation is 100%, every seed is being metered one at a time; but drop below 99%, and yield is being lost, to the tune of about 2.2 bushels for every percentage point.
Vacuum meters work best when eFlow seed lubricant is added to each hopper of seed. This 80% talc/ 20% graphite mix helps to remove humidity and static in the metering system and allows for crisp release off of the disk for impeccable spacing.
Metering is the heart of the row unit, but very closely tied to the meter is the drive system that spins that meter. Even an extremely accurate meter like vSet can have yield limiting problems when not driven correctly. Any vibration, slippage, or changes in speed of the meter will cause the planted population in that area of the field to be incorrect, causing yield losses. Mechanical parts of the planter drive system can cause problems during the season if not caught, much less take a decent amount of time pre-season to make sure they are up to snuff. When planting, the goal is for the population being planted in a given area to be the desired population in that given area, not just an average across the field, but the correct population in every area. For growers who plant around curves, on hillsides, and around terraces, accurate population on each row in each area of the field can be challenging to get right as each row of the planter is traveling a different speed around that curve. Even the best meter will struggle in these varying situations without a superior drive system.
Not every area of the field has the same potential for yield and profit, yet many growers farm fencerow to fencerow exactly the same. High organic matter soils that have great ROI potential are treated the same as low organic matter soils that simply can’t produce as well. Low yields in high producing areas and high expense in low producing areas- there has to be a better way! Varying field conditions call for varying management practices, one of which is hybrid selection. Most growers select a hybrid for the average environment in a field, not for each environment in a field. Choosing a hybrid matched to each area of the field can change a field's profitability for the better, and the equipment to be able to vary hybrid by zone in a field exists today.
The environment in which a seed is placed has a significant impact on it’s yield potential and its ability to germinate quickly and consistently. Soil moisture and temperature play a large role in the success of that plant all season long, and it’s final yield. Some springs are ideal, providing for timely planting in great conditions. In other seasons, just getting all of the acres in the ground is a challenge, much less worrying about whether or not the seeds are being placed in the best environment for them to thrive. When seeds are placed in cool soils, they lose vigor by taking too long to germinate; when seeds are placed in cool, wet soils, seeds sometimes do not germinate when they have poor saturated cold germination, therefore ending up with stand loss. Wet soils also provide challenges which lead to yield and stand loss; poor closing, sidewall smearing, and erratic depth to name a few. Planting in ideal soil conditions is obviously the best recipe for success, but how can we ensure that we are always able to take advantage of these windows? By removing the speed limit. Having a planter that is equipped with the capability to place seeds properly at whatever speed the planter is traveling provides the flexibility to hit the ideal planting windows to establish an ideal stand.