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How Do I Place Starter Fertilizer Equipment on the Planter?

Nov 11, 2011

Question: I’m interested in adding starter fertilizer equipment to my clients’ planters but unsure what type of placement is best.  Is it better to use a coulter mounted application, in-furrow application, or a trail behind application?  I’m concerned about bringing up moist soil in my clients’ no-till fields that could disturb the planting depth.  I’m also concerned that the application method could change down pressure requirements in highly variable no-till soil conditions, leading to inconsistent planting depth. Do you have a review that answers my questions?

Answer: Our recommendation is if you’re going to attach anything to the planter that will bring up moist soil in front of the depth wheels you need to keep those depth wheels clean with some type of scraper. In variable no-till conditions, that moist soil is a common issue. As you thought, your fertilizer application methods can indeed change your down pressure requirements when you’re adding any attachments to the row unit. You may want to consider purchasing some monitoring equipment. There are tools you can purchase to help you with that from manufacturers including John Deere, Great Plains, Precision Planting among others. You will want to monitor smoothness of ride and depth control to make sure your starter attachment is not causing your planter wheel unit to come out of the ground. If you plan to put starter fertilizer in-furrow, our concerns are salt load and seed quality. You want to make sure your customers use a good quality seed, one that helps ensure you don’t have extreme pericarp damage that exceeds 6 percent. Seeds with large cracks in the pericarp will experience starter burn. When we put starter in-furrow, it’s very important to get good seed-to soil contact, closure and firming of the furrow.
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