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Plant the Corn and Respect the WaterwayPlant the Corn and Respect the Waterway

CROP WATCH 2014: Row shut-offs help save seed costs when farming with waterways and other structures in the field.

Tom Bechman

December 14, 2014

2 Min Read

If you're looking for a Crop Watch '14 clue to help you guess the field's yield later on, here's a tip. The corn was planted May 4 in good conditions in conventional tillage. Planting depth was a strong two inches. Despite talk of cold soils, you could row the corn easily 9 days later on May 13.

With recent rains we haven't had a chance to walk the field, but the windshield survey would project a good stand.


Quite a bit of rain fell mid-week last week on the field. It didn't cause gully erosion at least, despite minimal residue cover, because the field has grass waterways in key drawls that could otherwise farm gullies during intense rainstorms. The waterways have been installed for several years.

Part of the problem of maintaining waterways is not spraying over them or destroying them with a planter. It's also more economical if you can avoid wasting seed because of them.

Related: Technology Increases the Desire to Have Even More Technology

In this case the planter is equipped with row shut-off technology. It shuts off rows a pair at a time, and thanks to the computer program and GPS, can sense where it has already planted and shut off.

The farmer figures that the two-row shut-off system which pairs rows across the planter will likely pay for itself in seed costs alone within one year on his farm. That includes savings on end rows even in rectangular fields, savings where there are point rows or overlaps where rows don't come out correctly at one side of a field. It doesn't, however, count any gain he could realize by overplanting on the first several end rows in from the field.


Where corn is too thick, yields often drop, especially in stressful seasons. It's a savings that is hard to estimate, but is still very real and worth putting a dollar figures on.

Note: Follow Crop Watch articles to help you make a better guess on final yield of this field later in the season. You will be eligible to win free seed from Seed Consultants, Inc.

About the Author(s)

Tom Bechman

Editor, Indiana Prairie Farm, Indiana Prairie Farmer

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