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Veteran No-Tiller Greg Smith has obeyed the recommended 5 mph planting speed limit when no-tilling corn and soybeans to avoid jeopardizing accurate depth and spacing of seed.
So he was understandably skeptical last spring when John Deere asked him to participate in a field trial of the manufacturer’s new ExactEmerge high-speed planter row units. The company says its electric-drive system can deliver accurate planting at speeds up to 10 mph because of a patented brush-belt delivery system.
The system, to be commercially available in 2015, is designed to replace traditional seed tubes.
“I had no idea what to expect, so I made sure my personal planters were hooked up and ready to roll in case this new system didn’t work,” says Smith, who farms 3,000 acres near Cummings, Kan. “I even went ahead and planted 500 acres of corn before Deere came out so I’d have something in the ground in case the equipment failed.”
Due to variable soils across his farm — including river-bottom ground, heavy gumbo and sand — Smith says it’s critical to plant seeds precisely through no-till residue, regardless of speed.
“I’ve experimented with different planter setups, running row cleaners or seed meters,” he says. “One of the challenges is compensating for that wiggle and bounce that can impact accuracy and emergence.”
Using an experimental 16-row, split planter equipped with ExactEmerge row units and Yetter Air Adjust row cleaners, Smith started slow, planting corn through soybean stubble at 6 mph as he tested the…