The Next Frontier In Seed Placement Technology

From seed tubes and seed meters to ground sensors, new equipment coming on the scene can help no-tillers achieve more consistent stands and raise planting efficiency and yields.

The 2013 planting season will bring some innovations to no-till fields that promise to improve seed depth and spacing, and dramatically improve planting speed.

Planter experts agree that achieving optimum seed spacing, consistent planting depth and adequate seed-to-soil contact, without creating compaction in the seed slot, are the prerequisites to a healthy crop stand.

“Once you meet those three conditions, that’s when varying seed population and fertility levels to match the soil’s potential will help reduce input costs and increase yields,” says Luc van Herle, global sales and service manager at Kinze.

Crop experts at Precision Planting report that even a 1% improvement in seed placement can result in an additional $5 per acre in return — even more as corn prices climb.

“Higher populations mean that the placement of every plant — and every seed — is critical,” says Dustin Blunier, marketing communications manager at Precision Planting. “For example, corn plants that are closer than 4 inches sense high-population pressure and react to the high-stress environment. But with a little effort, today’s planters can achieve spacing accuracy of 97% of more.”

University research bears out these findings. Ron Heiniger, a cropping systems specialist at North Carolina State University, says because newer hybrids are more stress tolerant and less likely to lodge under high plant populations, corn growers are increasing seeding rates with the goal of increasing yield.

As plant population increases, it also increases the likelihood of inter-plant competition.

“But achieving a perfectly uniform stand with equidistant within-row spacing…

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