Plant fields seed by seed rather than acre by acre

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Farm Forum

In the spring, farmers know it’s important to keep the wheels turning and get planting done as efficiently as possible. This fall, as farmers prepared combines to roll into fields for the late grain harvest, agronomists and speakers at the Wheat Growers Innovation Plot Field Day used examples to identify where spring planting problems can cost farmers money when harvest rolls around.

Troy McKown, Northwest Regional Manager for Precision Planting, explained that producers were invited to look at all angles of the perfect planter pass at the plot just east of Aberdeen, north of the Grebner Terminal on Sept. 3-4. Proof is in the planting, so organizers felt it was a good time to understand what impacts future farming practices. Crop yield monitors in the fall during harvest can pinpoint where problems occurred in specific areas of the field. With the improved technology, that data can be dissected to understand what went wrong in the spring.

To get better yields, farmers were told they don’t necessarily need more fertilizer to get more income from a field. They were advised to assess how their planter works and examine the choices they make in getting ready for the field. As farmers harvest fall crops, they were invited to take a look at ways they can improve their yields in the future.

At the Innovation Plot green corn fields planted to certain specifications were examined as well as the mechanics of planters and combines. About 350 people attended, according to McKown. Those attending came from Minnesota and Idaho in addition to North Dakota and South Dakota.

Speakers for the day included Brad Ruden of Wheat Growers on yield enhancements and Ron Gelderman of South Dakota State University on nitrogen management. One breakout session featured Jeff Fuls of Monsanto who spoke about the population study. He looked at areas planted at 25,000, 35,000 and 45,000 seeds per acre. He addressed the issues with wide row population, variable rate technology and harvestable ear counts.

McKown looked at the mechanical side of planters and the data that comes through the planter. Suggestions were made by looking at how those tools can be used, both from a hardware and software standpoint. He also identified how improper planter maintenance can cost time and money.

The Downforce Management session led by Brad Ruden of Wheat Growers focused on root development and the importance of downforce management while planting. The differences in root development were shown between tillage and no till along with the effects of varying down pressure in the root pit.

Gregg Carlson focused on proper singulation and spacing. Plant health and ear development was com