October 19, 2021

Technology brings site-specific tillage to soil management

Setting the stage for higher yields

RACINE, Wis. — Early and even emergence along with precise spacing are important to getting crops off to a good start.

“With all the new technology, the fundamental pieces of a planting operation are still key,” said Chris Lursen, Case IH tillage marketing manager.

“Setting the stage for higher yields is achieved through moving and cutting the residue, opening an uncompacted seed trench that minimizes the disturbance of the soil profile and a clean seed trench to precisely place the seed,” said Lursen during the Case IH Built for 2021 event.

“Then you have to zip up that trench and put the moist soil stored along the side of the trench back on top to get a good seed-to-soil contact around the seed,” he said.

The row unit for the Early Riser planter is built on agronomic design principles, Lursen said.

“It incorporates the industry’s most accurate planter technology with adjustable residue managers to get the residue out of the way,” he said. “The leading disc openers are able to slice through the residue verses pinning it to the seed trench.”

Pushing yields higher is important to meet the demand for soybeans.

“One trend we’ve seen is growers planting soybeans earlier, sometimes before or at the same time as corn to add growing degree days,” Lursen said.

Research at North Carolina State has shown that late-emerging soybeans have the potential to lose up to $140 per acre when they are just four days behind, he said.

“When you are creating a seedbed with a field cultivator there are two areas — the surface and subsurface,” he said. “Making sure the seedbed is smooth on the surface and bottom is really important.”

Even with all the technology on planters, Lursen said, they will have issues dealing with an uneven seedbed.

“We need to understand the quality of the seedbed to correct the issues before the planter even gets there,” Lursen said.

“AFS Soil Command on our soil management tools provides that understanding and information to improve the seedbed,” he said.

Since many farmers have a challenge with finding skilled operators to help with farm jobs, Lursen said, the seedbed sensing provides simple feedback on the display in the tractor cab.

“It can be a single button setting for the tool to set properly,” he said. “With AFS Soil Command, producers can feel confident the job is done right.”

In addition, this technology is bringing site-specific tillage to soil management.

“You can set the machine for individual field characteristics such as the soil type, topography or residue,” Lursen said.

“Some areas might need to be no-tilled because of the topography so we can set the tool at zero depth,” he said. “Other areas might need fertilizer incorporation so we’re able to set the tool for more conventional-type application or somewhere in the middle.”

Efficiency is about uptime, Lursen said.

“We want to help producers fix one-acre issues before they become thousand-of-acres issues,” he said. “Technology will help you so you don’t make the same mistake twice.”

Case IH puts teams of agronomists into fields with a range of conditions for rigorous agronomic evaluation of the equipment. In one research project a 50-acre field of soybean stubble was cultivated at 9 mph and planted with a high speed Early Riser planter at 9 mph.

“We found there was a direct correlation between the seedbed floor and the planter row unit ride quality,” Lursen said. “Where the seedbed measured poor by the field cultivator, the row unit ride was also less than ideal and when the seedbed improved so did the row unit ride.”

After the 2020 harvest, the researchers evaluated how the seedbed quality impacted yield.

“The greatest grain yield was achieved where the good seedbed readings were seen by the planter,” Lursen said. “Every 2% increase in ride quality yielded a six-bushel-per-acre increase.”

If the increase was only two bushels per acre over 1,000 acres of corn, that’s an increase of 2,000 bushels.

“At $4 corn, that’s an additional $8,000 so AFS Soil Command seedbed sensing and control technology can pay off in a year,” Lursen said.

“While considering new technology, don’t lose sight of agronomic fundamentals,” he said.

Visit www.caseih.com to learn more about Case IH seeding and planting equipment.

Martha Blum

Martha Blum

Field Editor