Higher yields and greater returns are the ultimate goals for crop producers. To help corn growers better understand the role equipment plays in optimized crop production systems, AGCO launches the Crop Tour 2017 on-farm research and demonstration program. The Crop Tour culminates in a series of field events, compares innovative tillage, high-speed planting and in-season cropping practices.
“The Crop Tour is all about explaining the interaction between equipment, plants and soil — a systems approach,” says Darren Goebel, director of global commercial crop care at AGCO. “With these plots, we’re demonstrating how variation in soil, equipment and technology impact plant emergence, health, productivity and yield,” he explains. “Our goal is to help growers better understand how the equipment impacts the soil and the outcome of different practices on the crop.”
Evaluating the impact of speed
Planting done on 2016 Crop Tour plots highlighted the agronomic benefits of accurate downforce, seed singulation and depth control, using the White Planters 9800VE Series planters. The planter series features advanced seed metering, electronic drive, automated downforce, plus monitoring and data management technologies from Precision Planting. In 2017, the 9800VE Series planters feature the addition of the Precision Planting SpeedTube seed delivery system that allows accurate planting at nearly double traditional operating speeds. Plots in 2017 are evaluating how planting speed affects the same agronomic issues studied in Crop Tour 2016.
Each of the 10-acre demonstration fields includes strips comparing plant emergence, season-long plant progress and yield impact due to variables such as:
- Tillage and seedbed quality, including residue management and seed-to-soil contact, with some locations demonstrating the new Sunflower SF6830 high-speed rotary finisher for seedbed preparation
- Seeding depth, with six comparisons, ranging from 1 inch to 3.5 inches
- Down-pressure variability, light, ideal and heavy, across the width of the planter
- Plant spacing, including the impact of skips and doubles
- Compaction, created in a strip that will allow comparison across all treatments
“Higher operating speeds allow producers to till and plant more acres per day, so a greater percentage of their crop can be planted within the ideal time frame for optimum yields,” says Goebel. “By establishing these demonstrations and gathering data about the different variables that growers face every year, we will help growers get a better understanding of which factors have the greatest impact on yield. With this knowledge, they can take advantage of the best equipment-based management practices and technology available for tillage and planting.”
Expanding on 2016 findings
Crop Tour 2016 yielded some unexpected findings and validated long-established practices.
For example, the impact of proper planter unit downforce is far more important than many realize. When comparing downforce applied using DeltaForce® automatic downforce control across six locations, yields improved by 6 bushels per acre compared to the heavy downforce setting, and by 49 bushels per acre compared to light downforce.* In addition, more downforce was needed when planting depth increased; different tillage systems require different amounts of row unit downforce; and central-fill planters require more downforce on the wings to maintain adequate gauge-wheel-to-ground contact.
Seed singulation ultimately impacts plant-to-plant spacing and yields. Across six sites, there was an 8-bushel-per-acre yield advantage when seed singulation accuracy was improved by about 8%. The Crop Tour sites, as well as numerous other studies, confirm there is a 1.1 bushel-per-acre yield increase for each one percent improvement in seed singulation.
Finally, agronomists have long advocated that corn must be planted at least 1.5 inches deep for adequate nodal root development. The 2016 Crop Tour studies confirmed that with yield results. Planting just 0.5 inch shallower than the 1.5-inch minimum resulted in a 15-bushel-per-acre yield loss on average, across the six 2016 Crop Tour locations, while comparisons planted 1 inch shallower saw a 20-bushel-per acre yield loss.* At five of the 2016 Crop Tour sites, the highest yields resulted from 2-inch and 2.5-inch planting depths, confirming that the highest yielding planting depth can vary based on factors such as soil condition or planting date.
“We’ll provide initial yield estimates for these same comparisons during the Crop Tour events, and the full results after harvest is completed,” says Goebel.
Progress reports online
To offer producers the most robust benefit from Crop Tour 2017, in addition to hosting field days at the Crop Tour locations, AGCO brings the information to everyone through videos, articles and photos at AGCOCropCare.com. Follow the AGCO Crop Tour on Facebook (@AGCOcorp) and Twitter (@AGCOcorp).
Locations throughout Midwest offer local perspective
Crop production practices and growing conditions vary by geography, so the Crop Tour locations have been chosen throughout the Midwest to offer producers examples that more closely fit the conditions on their own farms. Locations include: Flanagan, IL; Victoria, IL; New Hampton, IA; Judson, MN; New Ulm, MN; Winthrop, MN; and Aberdeen, SD