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Since 1988, Marion Calmer has seen no yield loss by reducing soybean planting populations down to 100,000 plants per acre in 15-inch rows.
“We plan to continue researching lower plant populations on soybeans until we see a significant reduction in yield or a major weed-control problem,” says the Alpha, Ill., no-tiller.
Calmer built a 24-row soybean planter with 6-inch rows in 1988. “We were able to synchronize the adjacent row to be a half cycle off,” he says. “This gave us a diamond pattern instead of a square box in 6-inch rows with a 6 -nch seed spacing. That equaled 174,240 plants per acre.”
One of the farmers that Calmer has worked with on narrowing down row widths is Mike Book at Leafriver, Ill. Book has modified a White planter to time the adjacent row so that it is a half-cycle off. The result has been an increase in corn yields of up to 30 bushels per acre.
Calmer has been working with the 15-by-15-inch planting concept since 1995 in corn and has seen higher yields, less weeds and reduced erosion.
“There is a whole new universe just waiting to be explored by using equal distant plant spacing for growing crops,” says Calmer.
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On this episode of Conservation Ag Update, brought to you by CultivAce, Hickory, N.C., record-breaking no-tiller Russell Hedrick shares how he was able to decrease his soybean seeds per pound from 2,800 to under 1,400. In the Farmer Feature segment, Hopkinton, Iowa, no-tiller Ryan Gibbs gives a crash course on how to use a refractometer to measure brix levels in corn and soybeans.