Handling Residue Challenges In Ultra-Narrow Rows

Evaluating row spacing and planter configurations can help no-tillers take advantage of narrow-row options, but sometimes bigger changes are needed.

Periodically I get phone calls from No-Till Farmer readers asking for advice on how to adjust or equip their planters to improve their no-till performance.

Recently I received this question: “Can I add row cleaners to my soybean units in a planter that has a 30-inch corn configuration with 15-inch interplant units?”

The answer to this question is ‘yes,’ but it brings up several management issues. Here are three management problems that come up when planting on 15-inch rows:

Cleaning the trash can be a challenge.

The planter’s gauge wheels usually can’t fit between the old 15-inch crowns, which means they don’t work very well at maintaining proper seeding depth.

Planting into the old row doesn’t work well because residue cleaners and coulters weren’t designed to remove root balls. And even if they did, they’d be moving soil and producing a very uneven planting zone.

Trio Of Options. There are basically three configurations of planters that can be used for 15-inch rows. Either row parallel arms are lengthened on every other parallel arm; or planter units are mounted on two different bars, or pusher units are used.

In each case, the row cleaner will generally fit on the row unit and can effectively clean the trash in front of the row unit it’s on, which help the gauge wheels work more effectively to maintain the proper seeding depth.

That way, we can get the seed planted more uniformly in each row.

But sometimes row cleaners move residue out of the…

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Leverich jim

Jim Leverich

No-Till Farmer's Conservation Ag Operator Fellow for 2022, Jim Leverich is a no-till farmer near Sparta, Wis. His 1,000 acre-farm has been in his family since 1864 and no-tilled since 1984. An innovator and educator, Leverich has 35-plus years of no-till and on-farm research experience, and possesses a deep, practical understanding of what makes no-till work. For his contributions while at the University of Wisconsin Cooperative Extension Service, Leverich was named the No-Till Innovator of the Year (Research & Education category) in 2006. A talented presenter and writer, Leverich was a regular guest columnist for No-Till Farmer in 2011 when it earned the Gold Medal as the nation’s top newsletter from the American Society of Business Press Editors.

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