DES MOINES, Iowa — Farmers are always looking for efficiency, and one way they can achieve that is through speed.
Spending less time in the field allows farmers to focus on other aspects of their operation, and in the spring, speeding up planters can make a difference. However, when working with potentially high-moisture soils after the wet fall of 2018, there could be challenges.
“We have to be thinking about spring tillage because if we have a rough field, you are slowing down, and it doesn’t matter that you can go 10 mph,” said Scott Meldrum, an associate with John Deere. “If we don’t have our seed-bed prepped, I can’t (go fast) because the soil is going to dictate how fast I can go.”
When the conditions allow for quick planting, Meldrum said precision is the key, which is why he was promoting the John Deere ExactEmerge technology at the Iowa Power Farming Show in Des Moines at the end of January.
“Planting fast is great,” Meldrum said. “I think that increased productivity through being able to plant faster is a byproduct of our ExactEmerge planter. The big thing is we get those seeds spaced perfectly along the row, and then get the depth. The byproduct is that we can go faster.”
David Brennan, a territory sales manager for Case IH, said the company’s focus is on making sure farmers are able to limit their time in a cab.
He noted that some of their new models of planters can reach speeds of 8 to 10 miles per hour depending on the topography of the field.
“As we look at the planter lineup, we can make it a high-speed planter if we want,” Brennan said. “You can get a lot more done in a day, and we’ve got a planter that’s designed to handle those higher speeds.”
But planting accuracy is still key. Research on plant spacing for corn has yielded variable results, with some showing that for every 1 inch in variation from the targeted spacing, yields were reduced 2.5 bushels per acre, University of Nebraska Extension agronomist Roger Elmore wrote in a university Crop Watch article. Some researchers report higher losses, while others report less.
Kinze was showing off its new Blue Vantage display at the farm show. The display boasts accurate seed placements that can be as detailed as a farmer prefers or, as district sales manager Bruce Ristau said, it can be as simple as three button presses.
“It’s got great ease and ability to flow through in a simple use — you can plant in three button pushes,” Ristau said. “(Speed) is impacted by how well the row unit rides in the field. When you start bouncing it around with speed, you subject it to seed delivery changing.”
The increased efficiency of planters may allow a little bit more flexibility.
“Where the productivity comes into play, if you plant after (mid-May), you start losing yield potential,” Meldrum said. “If we have a wet spring, maybe I can stay out of the field half a day or an extra day and let it get to more optimal conditions. Then I can go in and still get it done.”