ALLIANCE — Using lessons learned at its 200-acre PTI test farm near Pontiac, Illinois, during the 2018 growing season, Precision Planting has combined agronomy, technology and equipment and packaged the data and demonstrations of its products into an immerse, technology-rich classroom inside a mobile climate-controlled semi trailer.
And about 70 area farmers and agronomists packed into that mobile classroom in Alliance on Wednesday to harvest some of those lessons.
The third generation of Precision Plantings 20|20 Seed Sense monitor attaches sensors right on a multirow planter, which allows for farmers to real-time collect field data about the soil and seeding rate. With consistent depth, moisture and temperature data, with precise delivery of seed. That data in-turn can help the farmer optimize their equipment and make better decisions.
The monitor has even been engineered to alert the operator about issues with the equipment itself. Singulation, population, down force, skips, misplaced seeds, row failures and a variety of other data are displayed on the in-cab monitor.
“Anybody who has a 20|20 knows that you get lots of errors, but we actually measure the resistance on the wire,” said Precision Region Manager Ivan Lentsch. “So if you pinch a wire, it will change the resistance and actually pop up telling you that you have a pinched wiring harness.”
With, down force data, farmers can determine what the margin is for good ground contact. This can help decide how fast you need to go to seed a field with both seed placement accuracy and depth.
For example, in sandy ground, Lentsch said that a good level of down force is required to hold the trench open and ensure that the seed can make it to the bottom of the furrow. Planters may need to err on the side of caution and have a heavier down force in sand. With a control system, such as Delta Force in place, the guess work can be taken out.
To ensure consistent emergence, it’s important to have consistent heat and soil moisture at the time of planting. One thing that needs to be considered is residue management, because it can play with the heat and moisture levels.
Another consideration for emergence is to eliminate variation in depth. If seed is planted at inconsistent depths, that creates variation in emergence.
Too shallow, the seed will not have enough moisture; too deep and it won’t reach the right temperature to emerge correctly.
Seed to soil contact is also an important factor to emergence. If a trench fails to close, the air that is trapped around the seed will insulate it and create a variance in temperature.
The final concern for emergence is soil compaction. While it’s true that compaction will effect the ability for a seed to put out roots, it can also impede emergence. If the soil around a seed planted at 2 inches deep is compacted, it will take longer for it to warm to the correct temperature needed for the seed to germinate.
The sensors Precision Planting offers allow for measurement of soil moisture, temperature, organic matter, and provides data on how clean the trench is that’s being seeded.
Moisture, sunlight and nutrients — of those three, two are related.
Because sunlight causes moisture to evaporate from the soil, the ideal goal is to ensure placement of the seed so that once the canopy has developed on the plant, there is about 99 percent sunlight interception. This also helps conserve more water, an important consideration given the possibility for drought and restrictions on irrigation.
Evenly spaced, singulated plants that are consistent across the field allows for higher yields with less water use.
Phosphorus early in the season can be a hurdle to overcome. However, farmers can oftentimes worry more about nitrogen management early in the season and neglect to worry about phosphorus levels.
Phosphorus is important because it drives cell elongation and division at the growing point in the roots, and it drives the plant’s energy through ADP and ATP. It’s critical that a plant has an adequate amount of phosphorus to get off to a good start.
However, phosphorus from the soil, whether broadcast or leftover, is not available to a plant until the soil temperature is above 60 or 65 degrees.
Starter fertilizer on the planter, while not common, is something that should be considered, especially when planting early in the season before soil temperatures have a chance to rise.