Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Burrus and Kinze Manufacturing Multi-Hybrid Planter Research Results

Burrus had the honor of cooperating on an exciting project with Beard Implement and Kinze Manufacturing in 2014. The project involved field trials for a new multi-hybrid planter developed by Kinze. There were multiple goals for this project.
1) The study was a field test of new technology – an opportunity to try technology in the field and work out any bugs.

2) The project was designed to assess the yield benefits of diversifying hybrids within a field based upon productivity.

3) The project was organized to assess the feasibility of using such a planter on the common Midwestern farm.

Kinze designed the planter and Burrus brought the plot know-how. 24 fields on 22 farms were planted by Burrus across three states. There were more than 1400 acres in the project using six different offensive products and four different defensive hybrids.

The multi-hybrid planter deposited two different corn hybrids based strictly upon soil type differences. One was an offensive hybrid, ideal for higher yielding environments. This hybrid was planted at higher populations. The second was a defensive hybrid, ideal for tougher environments (lower productivity/higher clay/lower CEC/more drought prone soils). This hybrid was planted at lower plant densities. Soil types were clustered into high productivity versus low productivity environments.

The process began midwinter with growers submitting participation proposals to Burrus. Each potential field was entered into a MyFarms SM account. An evaluation was made to determine if a portion of the field might possess
evenly proportioned variability to participate in strip trials or if the field was better suited to be labeled as a demonstration plot. Grower interest in the project and equipment limitations were factored into the final decision of whether or not to enter a field in the study. Jerad Ropp (Burrus Precision Farming Specialist), Matt Montgomery (Burrus Sales Agronomist), Stephanie Porter (Burrus Sales Agronomist), Brian Six (Burrus Account Manager), and Tom Burrus (President, Burrus Brothers & Associated Growers) all participated in the evaluation process. Jerad Ropp and the support team at MyFarms designed the script for each location.
The logistics of the operation were incredible. Navigating the planting season required two semis: one for the tractor, one for the planter – generously supported by Beard Implement of Arenzville, IL. It also required occasional in-field remote modem updates and seed transportation.

Above all, the project required the steady hand and skill of our talented Account Manager, Brian Six. Occasionally the monitor manufacturing engineers would call Brian and ask him to stop. They would get on his monitor screen from headquarters in South Dakota to update it. If a field was switched from the intended one to a substitute, Jerad would e-mail the new prescription to our operator who would take it off the modem with a thumb drive and enter it in the monitor. The prescription was loaded without leaving the tractor cab!
How did the project turn out? As should be expected given the extraordinary growing conditions of 2014, we saw very little difference between strips planted to one defensive hybrid, strips planted to one offensive hybrid, and strips planted using multi-hybrid technology (see Figures 1, 2, and 3). While we did note average differences between specific hybrids and multi-hybrid planted areas of the field (sometimes as much as 8 to 11 bushels less) – none of the noted differences were significant enough to represent a true difference between strips. This is both good and bad news. First, the results are difficult because the investment of resources in this project was substantial. It would have been great to see some marked differences given that investment. Second, the results are positive because they did not generate a yield penalty. At the very least, growers can be comfortable that multi-hybrid technology does not seem to pull down yield in top-end environments.

Multi-Hybrid Strips verses Defensive Hybrid Strips showing no statistical differences.

Multi-Hybrid Strips verses Defensive Hybrid Strips showing no statistical differences.

Multi-Hybrid Strips verses Defensive Hybrid Strips showing no statistical differences.

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