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planting into corn residueWhat 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.
four row planterThis 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.
seed box 1Thereís the seed right where I said it would be! Letís get a closeup look at the seed.

seed box 2Thatís 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 here.
kent looking for seedOkay, 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. seed in furrowThatís 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.

Soybean Scene

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