The growth of better yields and higher profits starts with the moment your seeds meet your soil. By making this introduction as precise as possible, you set the scene for crops that leave not an ounce of land over or under utilised.
Nowadays, there are numerous machines, attachments, techniques and technologies available to help you get a handle on boosting your seeding accuracy. From sensors that monitor your seeder’s output to attachments that instantaneously adjust their approach based on variations in the land, we’re going to take you on a journey through the best precision planting tools around.
Why bother with precision farming?
According to marketing and communications manager for Precision Planting, Dustin Blunier:
“You can select the right hybrid, the right population and the right row spacing but if the planter is off on population, depth or singulation, the yield potential starts to decline.”
This is why it’s vital for your planting equipment to be rigged up for consistent performance with the ability to monitor and control as many fine elements of the process as possible.
While this is exactly the type of thing you’d expect the marketing manager of a company that sells precision seeding products to say, farmers who have employed precision seeding tactics are in complete agreement. Victorian farmer, Steve Lanyon, says taking a ‘one size fits all’ approach to seeding is a mistake.
While visiting one of the annual SANTFA (South Australian No-Till Farmers Association) conferences, Steve explained he had noticed a drastic difference between the crop quality and yields of his summer crops as compared to his dry-land winter crops. The only difference he could see in his technique was that he used a precision planter for his summer crops (which fared brilliantly) and a tyned machine with row clearers for his winter crops (which lagged in quality and yield).
Steve addressed this issue by switching to a disc seeding rig and installing a seeding monitor which gave him an unprecedented understanding of the accuracy of his seeding operation. This, in turn, allowed him to make all necessary adjustments to his process which he says he was able to do from the comfort of his tractor cabin.
The benefits of seeding monitors
Seeding monitors give you instant feedback on a host of data points including:
- seed spacing;
- the seeded area and the variety of seed being sown;
- whether the seeder achieves singulation;
- whether it delivers multiples;
- whether it skips;
- its ground speed;
- the down-force on the seeding unit’s gauge wheel.
Knowledge, as they say, is power and having this data enables you to rectify issues that may be affecting your yield. Too much down-force, for example, can compact the seeding furrow, sealing the walls. If this is an issue, you can install an hydraulic control system to regulate the seeding unit openers.
US corn grower, Jerry Cox is in line with Steve in praising seeding monitors. Jerry has taken out the American National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) yield award a whopping 21 times and credits his seeding monitor for helping him stay on top of his game.
Speaking with US publication, Farm Equipment, Jerry said:
“People always want to know how fast I drive at planting. I base speed on what the monitor tells me conditions are and how my planter is performing. I may plant at three mph sometimes and six mph other times. I’ve easily added 10 bushels across the board since I got the monitor.”
Precision planting tools and attachments
According to US farmer, Aaron Frank:
“eliminating skips and doubles in your field, you’ll instantly see a yield increase.”
Aaron achieved this through the use of machinery and attachments from Precision Planting (the company who’s marketing manager we heard from earlier). Aaron explained they have a large amount of variability in their fields and were stunned at how well Precision Planting’s Delta Force unit handled the terrain.
“We go from to sandy ridges to heavy bottoms; we have places in the field where we drove in to fix sprinkler tracks. And just seeing how quickly that machine can take a reading from the load pin and make an almost instantaneous increase or decrease in pressure, as needed, to keep the seeds going in at a uniform depth. It was really surprising how much better that made our emergence.”