Early findings point to multi-hybrid planter benefits
Farmers and researchers will plant variable corn and soybean hybrids in many fields this spring, identifying ways to raise yields while answering the questions inherent to a new agronomic practice.
Yield data from 2013 hold promise. This past spring, scientists planted fields in South Dakota using a twin-row Monosem planter equipped with Raven Industries technology. They saw an average bump in corn yields of 5 bu. per acre compared with rows planted with a single hybrid. The corn yield gain varied based on the site and combination of hybrids. The soybean bump averaged 3 bu. per acre.
"I thought that if we selected the [hybrid] lines well, we should see an advantage," says Peter Sexton, manager of the South Dakota State University (SDSU) Southeast Research Farm. Researchers planted four corn products and two soybean varieties.
As multi-hybrid research ramps up, so are the collaborations. That was true when Kinze Manufacturing tested its concept single-row dual-hybrid planter in Texas in cooperation with Beck’s Hybrids this February.
"It will revolutionize farming in the sense of increasing a farmer’s capability within a given area of the field," says Scott Beck, Beck’s vice president.
Harvest results. Comparing all of the different combinations of lines tested in South Dakota, researchers found an average corn yield of 177.9 bu. per acre for variable-hybrid seeding compared with 172.8 bu. per acre yield with single-hybrid seeding of the same hybrids.
For soybeans, variable-hybrid seeding also resulted in an increase, from 49.4 bu. per acre for single-hybrid seeding to 52.8 bu. per acre for variable-hybrid seeding.
Barry Anderson, DuPont Pioneer agronomy research manager, worked with Sexton and Raven’s Doug Prairie to select the hybrids for South Dakota’s variable terrain and weather.
"We wanted to take advantage of the hybrids that would perform well in the drier environments," Anderson says. "Then for lower-lying areas and occasionally wetter ground that can see more challenging conditions, we took into consideration the disease ratings of our hybrids."
Going forward, researchers will examine stalk quality, pesticide treatment and other issues in fields with multi-hybrid planting.
Future research. SDSU plans to test 40 to 50 lines of corn and soybean products in small SDSU plots, Sexton says. The yield winners will be planted in larger plots using variable-rate seeding to observe yield benefits.
This spring, farmers in Iowa, Illinois and Indiana will test Kinze’s concept planter with offensive and defensive corn hybrids, says Jason Webster, Beck’s central Illinois practical farm research director. The multi-hybrid planter is expected to be available commercially in 2015.
During an eight-week period, "AgDay" examined cutting-edge technology and what it might mean for the agriculture industry in its "Future of Farming" series. Watch online at www.AgDay.com/future_of_farming