Yield results from test plots in central Illinois led to rapid development of the electric multihybrid machine
The electric meter introduced on the Kinze 4900 Series kick-started the development of its new multihybrid planter.
While Kinze Manufacturing, doesn’t have a timeline for bringing its electric multihybrid concept planter to market, positive feedback from testing in the coming year could accelerate its development.
"This would get very high up on our priority list to get it out there," says Rhett Schildroth, Kinze senior product manager.
The concept planter was developed in late 2013 and grew out of conversations with Beck’s Hybrids. Two years ago, the seed company wanted a way to plant two hybrids on the go. To get the job done, they converted a Kinze planter. After running into challenges, the company approached Kinze, which modified a 3600 twin-row planter to plant two hybrids.
The 2013 test plots were primarily located in central Illinois. The boosts in corn yields planted with the multihybrid twin-row planter proved "outstanding," Schildroth notes. "Beck’s Hybrids is seeing yield increases for 2013 that are easily up to that 10-bu.-per-acre figure."
Kinze worked with Ag Leader to integrate the technology necessary for multihybrid planting on the twin-row machine.
Refined configuration. Planting two hybrids in 30" spacings with a twin-row design isn’t without challenges. When switching from one hybrid to another, the rows are offset by about 7½", Schildroth says. After turning at the headlands and beginning a new pass, tracks are twice that amount, leaving rows 15" closer or farther apart than other rows. That makes it hard to spray and harvest.
"We did some things with GPS to correct for that, but you still get wiggles in your field," Schildroth notes. With inconsistent row spacing in mind, Kinze engineers refined the machine’s configuration. Using the electric drive available on the 4900 Series planter, each 30" row is planted from one of two seed meters. This means two hybrids are planted seamlessly in a single row. Additionally, the transmission has been fine-tuned so that skips and doubles don’t occur during planting.
Each hybrid is stored in a separate bulk tank. The number of tubes running from the bulk tanks to the meters has been doubled, requiring roughly double the amount of air flow, Schildroth says. At the row unit, the two meters are connected to a single seed tube that places seed in the furrow.
The 30" 16-row concept planter can only plant two hybrids for now, Schildroth says, although he envisions a day when more than two might be advantageous—and planted using the Kinze machine. At this time, though, the biggest yield gain happens when switching from one hybrid to two.
Schildroth notes that in order to program the planter, farmers must put together a prescription map that not only identifies the desired seed rates but also chooses which hybrid should be used for which field zone.
2014 availability. Moving forward, a variety of seed companies have expressed interest in the technology. Kinze will manufacture a handful of electric multihybrid concept machines to be used by farmers in the Midwest for planting in 2014.
"What we’d like to do is to learn more about the agronomic variables that affect yield when we’re switching hybrids," Schildroth says. "Soil type might be the dominant variable in a place such as central Illinois, while low wet spots in fields might be key in South Dakota."
Company leaders also see the 2014 planting season as an opportunity to educate farmers about the new technology. "The biggest thing for me is that consistently, every trial we see, the results have been positive," Schildroth says.
Kinze will announce new details about its concept planter at the 2014 National Farm Machinery Show in February, although a full planter will not be on display.
You can e-mail Nate Birt at firstname.lastname@example.org.