How To Avoid Yield Loss Using Curve Compensation

Curve Compensation ExactEmerge
Curve compensation is a feature offered on newer electric-drive planters, such as John Deere’s Exact Emerge.

Planting is often considered the most important step in a farming operation. For this reason, there have been many advancements in planter technology that allow farmers to work more efficiently. For example, one strategy often used by growers is employing larger tractors and planters to cover more ground. However, larger planters come with their own challenges, such as the inconsistency in seeding rate that can happen across the rows when a planter drives along a curve.

Planting on a Curve

To help visualize, picture a marching band in a parade. As the formation approaches a turn, those on the inside virtually march in place while those on the outside speed up to give the illusion that they are turning in sync. If they did not do this and everyone marched at the same pace, those that were on the inside of the curve would be noticeably ahead of the others.

While one might think a planter has nothing in common with a marching band, the way they navigate around curves is similar, with the outside rows moving faster to keep up with the inside. This leads to the inconsistency in seeding rate. When seeds are dropped at a constant rate among all rows, the inside rows become greatly overpopulated because the row unit didn’t travel very far. Meanwhile, the outside rows experience under-population because the row units traveled a greater distance between seeds.

The good news for growers is manufacturers are beginning to address this issue. Curve compensation is a feature offered on newer electric-drive planters, such as John Deere’s Exact Emerge and Max Emerge 5e row units. The electric motors on each row unit allow them to operate independently of each other, so a different seeding rate can be run on each unit across the planter. While most planters today can execute a variable rate prescription, it is implemented as an average rate across the width of the planter. As a result, when planting in a curve, the row units on the outside of the planter speed up, and the row units on the inside slow down, decreasing the difference in seeding along both sides and effectively solving the problem.

Studying the Curve

Because curve compensation is a new feature, the team at RDO Equipment Co. sought to study it and show the potential yield loss that can occur without it. Daniel Eslinger and Brent Horner, members of the RDO Equipment Co. product specialist team and based in North Dakota, decided to evaluate a customer’s field.

“Not every field is square and we were curious how plant populations were affected by a curve,” Eslinger said. He further explained that the primary goal in conducting the study wasn’t to show how well curve compensation works but, rather, to determine what kind of yield loss could be expected without it.

Horner and Eslinger took stand counts across the width of 24 planted rows and followed the area through the season. In their preliminary stand count they found that the inside rows were overplanted by up to 124% of the target population, while the outside rows were only at 81% of the target population. It’s conceivable that on a larger planter, such as a 36- or 48-row, this disparity between the outside and inside rows would be even larger.

Curve Compensation Corn Ears
Eslinger and Horner observed the center rows had an average yield of 161 bushels per acre (bu/ac), while the inner and outer rows yielded 152 bu/ac and 131 bu/ac, respectively.

When it came to time to harvest the ears, Eslinger explained the team’s initial observations and conclusions.

“On the outside rows, where we had thin population, the cobs were massive, but we still had lower yield,” he said. He determined this was because the plants had access to more resources such as water, nutrients, and light, but they were not able to compensate for the lower plant population. The center rows had an average yield of 161 bushels per acre (bu/ac), while the inner and outer rows yielded 152 bu/ac and 131 bu/ac, respectively. With $3 per bushel of corn, this represented a $27 loss per acre on the inside rows, and a $90 loss per acre on the outside rows.

In a field with a lot of curves, this degree of loss can add up quickly. Curve compensation technology offered in many new planters could easily pay for itself. However, it’s important to note that, while clear benefits exist, this technology isn’t for everybody.

“You have to think of a customer’s field and how many curves they’re going around,” Eslinger said. With thoughtful evaluation of a grower’s unique business, moving to the technology found in the MaxEmerge 5e and ExactEmerge row units would be a good decision for some.

Applying the Curve

In addition to the technology offered by these machines, the ExactEmerge system is designed for such accuracy that variable rate prescriptions and curve compensation can be reliably implemented at speeds up to 10 mph, offering several benefits for farmers in terms of input costs, efficiency, and yield.

Eslinger and Horner hope to continue evaluating curve compensation, and turned to the sales team at RDO Equipment Co. for additional thoughts on potential future trials. Included in the ideas that would provide valuable information for them and their customers were performing side-by-side comparisons of different row units, the effectiveness of prescriptions, and looking at different row spacing.

For those thinking about conducting field trials of their own, Eslinger and Horner advise to remember to keep it simple. It’s typically recommended that only one or two things be compared at a time, otherwise there can be too many variables, making it difficult to draw accurate conclusions. Also, don’t forget about the growers. Pick trial ideas that will provide valuable information for growers looking to improve their operations.

When visiting their customer after the curve compensation trial, Horner and Eslinger said he could certainly see how a planter with curve compensation could improve his yield.

“Now, are we going to sell him a new planter because of it? I don’t know,” Horner said. “But it’s possible!”

Both Eslinger and Horner hope this field trial and others they plan to implement from their list of new ideas will provide helpful information for growers in their area to think about, and concrete numbers for sales team members to use when talking about new technology with their customers.

To learn more about curve compensation and the benefits it could offer your operation, contact your local RDO Equipment Co. store.

Leave a Reply

Professionals Stories
Gavin Newsom Forbes AgTech-Summit
ProfessionalsAgTech Summit Aiming High for Modern Farming Solutions
June 12, 2017
THRIVE AgTech, in partnership with SVG Partners and Forbes, is hosting the third annual Forbes AgTech Summit June 28-29 in Read More
Farming big data style
ProfessionalsAre You REALLY a Precision Farming #Agvocate? This Summer, PROVE IT!
June 6, 2017
Go Feed Yourself. That’s the catchphrase of my favorite ag Twitter personality, Shark Farmer (@sf28430), who besides bringing plenty of Read More
Alabama bottomland
Business ManagementGreenPoint AG: Dealing in Ag Tech Down on the Delta
June 5, 2017
Precision-farming veteran Ben Carlisle is the Agricultural Technology Manager for GreenPoint AG, LLC, a retailer with locations in Arkansas, Louisiana, Read More
Dave Swain (left), precision ag specialist, at Southern States
ProfessionalsMid-Year Precision Agriculture Update: Staying The Course
June 1, 2017
For service providers offering precision programs, hope springs eternal in winter. Services are evaluated, new offerings are considered, growers are Read More
Trending Articles
PrecisionAg Vision Conference
EventsPrecisionAg® Vision Conference: Focused on the Future
June 13, 2017
PrecisionAg® is pleased to announce the return of its PrecisionAg Vision Conference, October 10-12, 2017. Based on overwhelmingly positive response Read More
Gavin Newsom Forbes AgTech-Summit
ProfessionalsAgTech Summit Aiming High for Modern Farming Solutions
June 12, 2017
THRIVE AgTech, in partnership with SVG Partners and Forbes, is hosting the third annual Forbes AgTech Summit June 28-29 in Read More
Quantix Drone Farmer
DronesTop 10 Most Intriguing Technologies in Agriculture
June 3, 2017
This may be a bit of stating the obvious here, but we’ll throw it out there anyways: as much as Read More
Farming iPad
Data ManagementOpinion: ROI or Die in Precision Agriculture
May 12, 2017
The thought of $3.50 corn for the foreseeable future seems pretty disheartening. However, if you look at the precision ag Read More
BASF Maglis grower retailer tablet
Data ManagementQ&A: What BASF’s Latest Foray into Precision Ag Means For Growers
May 11, 2017
In late April, BASF agreed to acquire U.S. precision ag player ZedX, a leader in the development of agronomic weather, Read More
Mung beans Australia
InternationalPrecision Ag in a Tough Season in Australia
May 8, 2017
This year’s summer crop season has been a tough one for most growers in Australia. Prolonged periods of high temperatures Read More
Latest News
Data ManagementCDMS Announces SeedIQ Acquisition
June 26, 2017
Crop Data Management Systems, Inc., (CDMS) announces the acquisition of SeedIQ as part of its growth plan to provide complete Read More
Cotton closeup
Imagery/SensingCotton Growth Management with Precision Agriculture
June 20, 2017
A cotton crop presents some important differences to other commodities that are widely produced in Brazil, such as soybean and Read More
Corn Field
Industry NewsCNBC: Inside Amazon’s Whole Foods Takeover
June 20, 2017
Amazon’s takeover of Whole Foods sent the stock of competing grocery chains plummeting. To understand why, you need to know Read More
DronesNavigating a New World: Drone Technology in Agriculture…
June 20, 2017
My first exposure to unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) was as a master’s student at Kansas State University. I was researching Read More
Precision Ag Innovation Series
EventsInnovation Series Agenda Zeroes In On Maximizing Key Se…
June 14, 2017
In a recent survey of service providers conducted by PrecisionAg® Professional magazine, more than seven in 10 indicated that variable Read More
Soil Scientists
Data ManagementAccessing USDA Soil Data for Precision Farming
June 13, 2017
Many precision farming websites have integrated the USDA NRCS soil survey database using the USDA Soil Data Access web portal. Read More
GEOSYS In-Season Imagery
Decision Support SoftwareGeosys Announces Imagery and Weather Data Offering
June 13, 2017
Geosys, a provider of agronomic decision support tools, today launched Geosys Labs, a new program that will make its global Read More
PrecisionAg Vision Conference
EventsPrecisionAg® Vision Conference: Focused on the Future
June 13, 2017
PrecisionAg® is pleased to announce the return of its PrecisionAg Vision Conference, October 10-12, 2017. Based on overwhelmingly positive response Read More
Decision Support SoftwareMyriad Mobile Raises $1.5 Million to Launch New Ag-Tech…
June 12, 2017
Myriad Mobile, a software technology company focused on mobile and web applications, has raised $1.5 million in a Pre-Series A Read More
center-pivot-irrigation-drop-sprinklers-on-corn
Variable Rate ApplicationVariable-Rate Fertigation Can Be Simple
June 12, 2017
A rule is a rule is a rule, right? Well, not always. Sometimes, rules are meant to be changed. Most Read More
Gavin Newsom Forbes AgTech-Summit
ProfessionalsAgTech Summit Aiming High for Modern Farming Solutions
June 12, 2017
THRIVE AgTech, in partnership with SVG Partners and Forbes, is hosting the third annual Forbes AgTech Summit June 28-29 in Read More
Sensors/IoTLeveraging IoT to Improve Data Collection for Agricultu…
June 12, 2017
Between population growth and climate change, farms of all sizes are being challenged to increase yields. Internet of Things (IoT) Read More
DronesAg Drone Update: The Hunt for 1,000 (OPINION)
June 10, 2017
Having obtained my FAA Part 107 Commercial Drone Operators license back in September of last year, I’ve spent the past Read More
Industry NewsMergers & Acquisitions: Land O’Lakes Tosses E…
June 9, 2017
Land O’Lakes has made a minority equity investment in EFC Systems, an ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) and precision solution provider Read More
Mixmate-featured-image
Decision Support SoftwareHandy Software, Hardware for the Field
June 7, 2017
More than two decades ago, Iowa grower Doug Applegate wished for a “little portable chemical blending system” that could easily Read More
Decision Support SoftwareHarnessing A Team To Build Your Own Software
June 7, 2017
What’s a powerhouse retail network to do when it can’t find a software system to meet incredibly diverse needs? Build Read More
Tim Ferrell Marshall County Co-op
Decision Support SoftwareWhen It’s Time To Switch Software
June 7, 2017
No one in their right mind wants to change software. That’s the opinion of Tim Ferrell, manager of Marshall County Read More
PA Special Report Enterprise
Decision Support SoftwareSpecial Report: Enterprise Management Systems
June 7, 2017
A functional and stable software system can allow a retail operation to run at maximum efficiency, build customer loyalty and Read More