Six planters went rolling through test plots in Iowa, Illinois and Indiana earlier this spring. That’s not unusual, until you consider they were electric multi-hybrid prototypes Kinze has been testing as it readies for a limited commercial launch for the 2015 planting season.
Kinze initially announced the concept planter in December 2013. The company reports "rapid progress" since that time, collaborating with multiple seed companies this spring to conduct test plots. Partnerships included AgriGold, Beck’s Hybrids, Burrus Hybrids and DuPont Pioneer.
Trials this spring demonstrated the planter could successfully switch hybrids automatically and on-the-go. Testers reported hybrid changes were conducted within a single seed drop, so there were virtually no gaps or overlap switching between hybrids.
"We focused on combining field map and hybrid research data to define the best hybrid placement and planting rate," says Chris Fennig, managing director at MyFarms, who collaborated with Burrus on multi-hybrid software. "We built lots of automation and analysis that work in a matter of seconds, so the average seed representative and farmer can become GIS wizards."
Testers also were able to create and apply prescription maps to control both hybrid type and plant population, thanks to a collaboration with Raven and the partnering seed companies.
"We look forward to bringing this innovation to farmers," says Susanne Veatch, Kinze vice president and chief marketing officer. "Farmers will no longer have to make compromises and can optimize their seed hybrids – and ultimately increase their yields."