Seed Splitter

July 26, 2013 09:36 PM
Seed Splitter

Raven technology plants two hybrids by prescription

This summer, industry experts and researchers are teaming up to test the theory that opposites attract. What Raven Industries hopes will be a win-win is known as the OmniRow Multi-Hybrid control for planters. The technology takes precision to the next level by allowing farmers to switch between two corn hybrids on the go when planting.

"Up until now, there hasn’t really been a good mechanism or set of controls for switching between varieties on the go," says Pete Sexton, manager of the South Dakota State University Southeast Research Farm. Sexton’s crew planted five test plots this spring in order to evaluate the new Raven technology, which builds on the company’s OmniRow platform.

After purchasing a Monosem twin-row planter in early 2012, the research farm’s board of directors spoke with Raven engineer Doug Prairie about integrating precision controls. The conversation resulted in fabricating hydraulic devices that allows independent control of the row units. 

With the twin-row configuration, the front row of seed hoppers is loaded with one hybrid, and the back row of seed hoppers is loaded with the second.

The field computer is programmed to shift between hybrids by switching the hopper from which seeds are planted.

Through the field, either the tractor or implement guidance can be adjusted as the hybrid prescription shifts from the front to the back row (or vice versa). The equipment shifts side-to-side to plant in continuous rows with the target area for planting being between the twin rows. The variable-rate population maps are adjusted for a smooth change across the planter’s swath, and there are independent drives on each row.

DuPont Pioneer agronomy research manager Barry Anderson selected the hybrids used in the field studies. For example, the test plot in Lennox, S.D., is somewhat hilly, so Sexton developed prescription maps placing a drought-tolerant hybrid  in  upland positions and one that handles "wet feet" in low areas.

If the planter crosses headlands at an angle, it shuts off the first hopper to cross, and the others follow. The system permits variable-rate application of liquid fertilizer and in-furrow injection of insecticide and fungicide.

seed splitter 2

Two corn varieties were planted in this field in Lennox, S.D., using Raven’s OmniRow Multi-Hybrid control, which will be available for the 2014 season, and prescription maps.

The next leap. Early farm technology adopters say the ability to vary hybrids within the row is the next logical step for precision ag. Farmer Matt Loewe of Lennox, S.D., uses variable-rate technology to apply phosphorus, potassium and nitrogen, and he uses Raven’s OmniRow technology on his planter to reduce seed cost.

Around Yankton, S.D., where Alvin Novak farms, rain can be scarce. "I am very concerned that we are going to suffer from a drought," he says.

The ability to plant multiple hybrids in a single pass allows Novak to plant a high-yielding variety in areas with good soil moisture and switch over to drought-tolerant lines in drier parts
of the field. 

You can e-mail Nate Birt at

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