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With all the money that no-tillers put into their fields, it’s important to know what they’re paying for is working. Randy Dowdy, who holds the world record for no-till corn yield at 532 bushels per acre, uses a flag test to assess the variance of crop emergence timing amongst his crops and if the planter is performing to the best of its ability.
Dowdy says no-tillers should be present in the field and observant of what’s happening in the soil. That sparked the idea for the flag test back in 2010.
“I remember thinking, ‘How many of our plants are coming up simultaneously, and how far can the deviation be between the first emerging plant and the last emerging plant without costing me yield?” Dowdy says.
The basic idea of the flag test is to mark the crops as soon as they emerge to keep track of which ones emerged at the same time, which ones emerged later and how timing of emergence affected the crop throughout the season.
“When the plant is an eighth of an inch or even less — when it’s just coming out of the ground — you need to be in the field observing the plants as they come up,” Dowdy says. “And by observing, I mean picking a row that matches the whole width of your planter and making sure all of the rows are performing the exact same way.”
Dowdy says to take a small section of the field, and as soon as…