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March 1, 2017
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Controlling Variables

Farming is full of variables ranging from weather conditions, soil types, seed genetics, soil health and fluctuating commodity prices so what is a farmer to do? Well, you focus on the things you can control so you give yourself the best chance possible to plant a successful crop.

I’m not going to write today on how to successfully market your crop or choose the proper genetics to fit your farm plan. I’m going to focus on why seed placement is important and how it can be affected.

Now some may see this topic as being absolutely elementary at best but when you understand the importance of the fine details it makes it a definite topic for consideration. Proper seed placement can ensure the success or failure of your crop. When you are dealing with fractions of inches making the difference between a profit or not, it matters.

The principles reviewed in this article apply to any planting practice. Your program may include everything from conventional tillage to strip till to no till and several other planting styles. All of which show promise and beneficial results for a wide range of soil, crop, and climate types. The one constant focus through all different types of planting is the importance of proper seed placement. They also share a few similar challenges such as crop residue management and moisture control.

So what is proper seed placement and why is it so important?

Studies conducted by leading Institutes have proven over and over that quick and even emergence of plants is vital to a crops ability to grow in a healthy even way. Plants that get a weak start may become shadowed later on and develop weaker traits and little to no yield. Sparse emergence can lead to a whole other list of problems especially during a hot dry growing season.

So where do you begin? What are the options? Let’s look at these questions one at a time to get an understanding of the scope of the questions.

The challenges faced by individual farmers to grow the perfect stand are many and varied. The options available in today’s market place are also many and offer different traits to suit a farmers requirements.

The foundation of the planting process must first be achieved before looking at additional performance upgrades.

Take a look at your current planter when it is in planting position. Now ask yourself the following questions.

  1. Is the planter sitting level from front to back? Or is it lower on the hitch? Level is ideal. If anything, it is better if the hitch is a little higher during planting if it cannot be level. Low leading angle can drastically affect seed depth as well as the ability of your closing wheels to function as they are designed.
  2. Is there wear or stiffness in your moving components? Look first at your drive line then follow it all the way through your bearings and chains throughout the entire planter.
  3. How tight and secure are all of your row unit bushings? Sloppy and worn bolts and bushings can cause serious inconsistency at the seed placement level.
  4. Are your seed meters in good operating condition? I encourage you to take your meters to a trained technician for inspection, calibration and repair. A meter with operational problems can be costing you greatly.
  5. Are you using a lead coulter on your planter? Be sure to check the depth at which it is cutting. During planting if it is set too deep you will create a false bottom in your seed trench allowing the seed to fall much deeper in places. This single setting can generate incredible fluctuation in emergence. Be sure when setting the coulter depth to be 3/8 to ½ an inch shallow of your seed blade openers. This will let the seed openers create a nice “V” shaped seed trench for the seed to rest in before it is covered.
  6. Be sure to inspect your seed opener blades. Proper setting of these “through shims” and a desired overall diameter have a definite impact on how well formed your seed bed will be. If they are worn your seed trench could form a “W” shape causing the seed to be placed too shallow and out of the moisture zone. It can also create uneven and scattered emergence.

The list of items to check continues through each and every aspect of your planter. Make sure you are setting the down force pressure on your planter units to match the soil conditions you are planting in. This can be a lot of work on some ground and with larger planters but the results are worth the effort. There are great options for on the go adjustment these days. Your precision planting specialist at Kearney Planters will be able to help you with the range of selection to meet your needs.

Just remember that the best way to determine your planter’s health is by inspecting it closely. Even during planting be sure to get out of your cab and physically check to be sure everything is working and planting correctly.

Farmers living in Southwestern Ontario are fortunate to have a team of globally recognized planter specialists right in their region to access. Kearney Planters specialists have been working closely with farmers, seed producers, machinery manufacturers, as well as various industry professionals devoted to crop studies and scientific advancement of agriculture and further education to make sure they bring each customer real options that will work to help them control planting challenges.

Planters being used in fields today range from older mechanical design to ultra-modern and sophisticated. Each individual farm requires a different level of machine to fit the requirements of their farm plan. Where does your planter fit into the range? Is it working as well as it could?

How will you control your variables in planting. The answers can be found at Kearney Planters. I personally invite you to come by our office to speak with one of our trained professionals. Or give us a call. Let us help you make sure your crop is the best it can be.

Tailgate Talks,
with Collin Palmer of Kearney Planters