What in the world is this guy doing? Well,
believe it or not heís planting soybeans no-till into corn stubble or residue. The
residue is corn stalks and other plant parts thatís left over
from the corn that was planted into this same field last summer.
No-till means the residue from the previous crop is not
disturbed or destroyed before planting the next crop. No-till is
an excellent way to reduce the amount of soil erosion. Letís
look closer at the no-till planter.
|This is a four-row, John Deere MaxEmerge 2 planter.
Most farmers use bigger planting equipment (more rows) than weíre using, but a
four-row planter is big enough for our field. How does this
thing work, you ask? Well, letís talk about this planter. The
wavy disk between the two yellow-rimmed wheels is called a coulter
and its job is to cut the residue so the seed can be placed into
the soil. If the residue isnít cut, seeds would be placed on
top of the residue and they wouldnít grow. The big,
yellow-rimmed wheel is called the gauge wheel and thatís also
where the seed is planted. The gauge wheel insures that the
planter places seeds at the same depth in the soil. The V-shaped
wheels are called press wheels and their job is to firm the soil
around the seed. Seeds needs to be in close contact with the
soil. But whereís the seed right now? The seeds that are to be
planted are in the middle, yellow box. Letís look to be sure.
|Thereís the seed right where I said it would be! Letís get a closeup
look at the seed.
|Thatís about the worst-looking seed Iíve ever seen. Look at all the
small, damaged, brown, and green seeds. Why? You understand the
seed we plant this year was grown last year and we had a severe
drought in this area last summer and fall when this seed was
developing. That caused the poor quality seed that we have to
plant. The germination percentage is only 76% and it should be
at least above 90%. Unfortunately, thereís no better seed. So,
weíre caught between a rock and bad seed!! If you want to see
what seed is suppose to look like click
Okay, as the no-till planter, which is pulled by a tractor,
travels across the field it drops seeds down a tube into the soil. But,
we have to see that the planter is placing the seed at the
correct depth. Here, Dr. Kent McVay is trying to find the seed
and checking the planting depth.
|Thereís one seed
about two inches from the surface. Thatís about the right planting depth,
but I wouldnít want to plant any deeper, though. Kent will check several
places to determine if the planter is planting at the correct depth. Weíre
planting into some moisture (See the dark soil? That means it is
wet.) so the seed should germinate quickly. Thereís a chance
of rain tonight and that will help. Weíll check back in a few
days to see if anything has happened.