Seed Placement = Yield Potential!

Importance of Seed Placement

I want to re-emphasize the importance of seed placement and its impact on corn yields. I can’t tell you how much difference a half an inch can do for your yield potential. In particular, I was in several fields in 2007 where another half an inch deeper seed placement would have put another 40 to 50 bushels per acre into the bin. Regardless of market prices, this leads to a significant loss of income that could had been avoided. By simply understanding the impact seed placement plays in season-long crop performance for all hybrids, we have a chance to increase yields at a no-added cost! All you have to do is adjust your depth and use Earthosils® of course!

Adjusting Seed Depth

For adjusting your seed depth, I have provided pictures that should be very familiar to you. In a field study, a corn planter was set at various planting depths and yields were compared between these depths. Personally, I would like to see everyone try to achieve a planting depth of 2.25 inches and a yield result of 224.5 bu/acre!

Financial Impacts

How important is planting depth in your farming operation based on this research? Here, I’ll do the math for you. The difference between 224.5 bu/acre and the 165.36 bu/acre is 59.14 more bushels of corn per acre because the planter was adjusted to the proper planting depth for maximum genetic potential of your chosen hybrids. In today’s market at $3.25/bu, this calculates to $192.20 more net dollars generated per acre no added cost! I do not know where in agriculture you can generate more net profit for your time invested then at planting time. At this point, it’s all a matter of multiplication. Whether you have a 100 or 1000 acres of corn, this would be equivalent to an additional net income of $19920.00 or $192,200.00, respectively!
Just for fun, divide this extra-generated income by the amount of time it would take you to set your planter to the proper depth to get your new hourly wage. Not too bad for a days work! I sincerely hope you begin to understand why I continue to stress this one simple procedure. Every effort makes a difference and your attention to detail will be rewarded through bountiful crops!

Seed Placement 101

Tools of the Trade

Here’s how you can effectively find your planting depth.  You will need three tools:

  1. Patience
  2. An old license plate
  3. Your shoes

First, get your planter up to operating speed (i.e., the speed you are comfortable driving). Remember, fast works great for auto racing, but not when it comes to planting your crops.  When you speed your way down the field, you give the planter less time to react to soil conditions, which usually results in uneven seed placement. Once you are up to operating speed, stop, get out of the tractor, and walk back at least 50 ft. With your shoes, walk directly over the top of a planted row with one foot in front of the other, until you have walked over at least 4 ft of row. Walking on top of the row will have the same effect as a 1.5 inch rainfall settling your soil.

Oxygenated Soil

Keep in mind, soil on our Earthsoils® products and program will contain more air or oxygen.  The fluffy tilth you observe when working your fields in the spring is an indicator that your soil is holding high levels of oxygen.  Please recognize this important indicator. The first rain will settle the oxygen out of the soil surface and the soil will basically settle down more than what you would expect. Through this process of settling the seed will be shallower then what you intended it to be.  Walking on top of the seed allows you to calculate a “settled” seed depth.

Next, grab the old license plate or another thin, flat, sturdy object to measure the planting depth.  Drag the license plate over the top of your row with the long side as your shovel to expose the seed.  Also, use patience in this process as you uncover the seed gradually. Finally, measure from the top of the soil surface where you walked on the soil down to the seed. When it is 2.25 inches deep, you have achieved the optimal planting depth!

Planting Depth

Planting depth has a direct correlation to the size of the stock and the ear that it will produce! If you have witnessed the big-stock, little-stock syndrome in your fields at pre-harvest and harvest time, take the time to dig up a stock. In particular, measure from the seed to the base of the point on the stock (see photo) and add ¾ of an inch to that measurement.

The addition of ¾ inch will give you the relative depth the day at which you planted the corn. As little as ¼ inch difference can change your yield potential dramatically! By the way, the corn stalk in the picture was planted too shallow! Is it worth your time and energy to find your seed depth? Absolutely! You generate yield potential the second you place your seed in the ground.  However, taking care in where you place that seed will decide how successful you will be at harvest. If you ever have questions regarding seed placement, contact us! We will gladly provide you with relevant resources to help you be successful!

Seed Firmers

Are they worth the investment? Read this and decide for yourself. A simple, on-farm yield trial was conducted comparing the effects of seed firmers on corn yield. The field was planted the same day with the same planter using the same fertility program and variety of seed corn. It was a White, sixteenrow planter with two transmissions, each running eight independent rows. Rows 1 to 4 had seed firmers, rows 5 to 12 had no firmer attachments, and rows 13 to 16 had firmer attachments.

The yield data was gained by hand-picking corn from rows four and five, which were then weighed on a scale at a local elevator. By using a seed firmer, yield was increased 14.28 bushels per acre between corn rows that were 30 inches apart! It is evident through this field trial that the firmer is an excellent tool. The field trial, in my observation, says seed planting depth can make a world of difference when it comes to yield.  The firmer places the seed into the seed furrow with what appears to be consistent and accurate planting depth! I believe how we plant is just as important as what we plant. In other words, planting depth is the most important and inexpensive tool you have in generating yield potential! Now, put this information in the tool box of your planter for 2010 and enjoy the financial rewards!