Corn farmers delve into precision planting
Growers taught attention to detail can yield big returns
By SEAN ELLIS
NAMPA, Idaho -- A precision planting company that brought its mobile classroom to Idaho told corn growers that singulation -- placing every seed exactly where it belongs -- can make a big difference in their paycheck.
"The yield is in the details; inches matter," a couple dozen Idaho farmers were told June 6 by Sean Arians, a technical support professional with Precision Planting of Tremont, Ill.
Inside a large trailer decked out with high-tech demo equipment, Precision officials showed growers first-hand how planting corn with more precision can save them money.
Arians said that when it comes to planting corn, even small changes can result in yield increases of 5 percent or more and farmers normally don't have to see their banker to make these low-cost, high-impact changes.
With large video screens providing visuals, Arians showed growers how they can increase corn yields by using technology to ensure they evenly space seeds and plant them at consistent depths.
One video demonstration showed that even a small amount of skipped or misplaced seeds can cost a farmer up to $80 an acre. Showing that yields decrease as planter speeds increase, another claimed that farmers can produce an additional 1,100 ears of corn per acre by slowing from 7.5 mph to 5 mph.
Arians said even seemingly small things such as adjusting the wheel gauge on a planter can make a big difference in output.
"All of those decisions affect our crop and our paycheck at the end of the year," he said.
Parma farmer Chris Smith said he was impressed with a lot of the information Precision officials presented and he believes some of their units could possibly enable him to earn more money. But he also said he's going to need more proof the equipment works in Idaho before he spends the money.
"I think some of their units may help us, but until I see some of it work in our kind of ground and our kind of moisture, I won't buy one," he said. "A lot of the stuff I saw in there was good stuff ... but I need to see some more proof."
Melba farmer Mark Jensen, who organized the event and is the company's dealer in Idaho's Treasure Valley area, said he understands the hesitation to purchase new equipment because farmers should be skeptics when it comes to sales pitches.
But he encouraged corn growers to give that type of precision technology a fair shot.
"The yield is determined in the corn plant within a couple of weeks after it emerges, so the planting of corn is absolutely essential to set your yield right," he said. "Your paycheck is written when you plant, so however you do your planting is going to determine how much you're going to end up with in the fall."