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Does Your Planter Need Row Cleaners?

Absolute must if you plant into stalks, after wheat.

Tom Bechman 1, Editor, Indiana Prairie Farm

March 7, 2011

2 Min Read

Bob Brewington farms near Versailles. He's no-tilled for nearly two decades now, growing corn and soybeans on gray flat, Clermont slash soil and Avonburg soil on slopes. His planter is equipped with a coulter running in front of each row. Due to his planter design, he doesn't have room for no-till row cleaners. He wanted to hear Barry Fisher's answer to whether or not he should figure out how to add row cleaners to his planter. Fisher is the state resource agronomist with the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Knowing Brewington's farm and that he had successfully planted no-till for so many years in rotation with corn and soybeans, Fisher concluded that he likely wouldn't see a big bump in stand consistency by adding row cleaners. However, Fisher reserved the right to recommend row cleaners to some farmers in certain situations.

"I believe they are absolutely a must if you're no-tilling corn into either wheat stubble or corn stalks," Fisher says. "People talk about how they clear a path that can warm up faster and get more light into where the seed goes if they run row cleaners," says Fisher.

However, I think there's even a more important reason for mounting row cleaners of your choice on the planter."

"You want a level seedbed for the planter units to ride over," he says. "If you're going into areas with cover, you're going to get some bounce as units pass through the field."

More and more people are recognizing bouncing units as a cause of poor seed depth placement today, Fisher says. He's a big believer in having the planter set right. That includes making sure that the seeding units run smoothly across the field.

"The old joke is that you ought to be able to set a full champagne glass on the box lid of every unit, and drive across the field without spilling any of it," Fisher says. "Bad things happen when units bounce. You don't get consistent seed spacing or consistent seed depth placement. You need both. That's where residue wheels come into play when you're going into a heavy cover, or into a stalk field. You just need a path for those planter units to run."

About the Author(s)

Tom Bechman 1

Editor, Indiana Prairie Farm

Tom Bechman is an important cog in the Farm Progress machinery. In addition to serving as editor of Indiana Prairie Farmer, Tom is nationally known for his coverage of Midwest agronomy, conservation, no-till farming, farm management, farm safety, high-tech farming and personal property tax relief. His byline appears monthly in many of the 18 state and regional farm magazines published by Farm Progress.

"I consider it my responsibility and opportunity as a farm magazine editor to supply useful information that will help today's farm families survive and thrive," the veteran editor says.

Tom graduated from Whiteland (Ind.) High School, earned his B.S. in animal science and agricultural education from Purdue University in 1975 and an M.S. in dairy nutrition two years later. He first joined the magazine as a field editor in 1981 after four years as a vocational agriculture teacher.

Tom enjoys interacting with farm families, university specialists and industry leaders, gathering and sifting through loads of information available in agriculture today. "Whenever I find a new idea or a new thought that could either improve someone's life or their income, I consider it a personal challenge to discover how to present it in the most useful form, " he says.

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