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Corn+Soybean Digest

Made To Multitask

Dustin Weber built the anhydrous bar he couldn't buy — a 16-row unit that can work in no-till, strip-till or ridges and runs at 8 mph. “I had been using a 20-ft. bar and considered buying an 8-row strip-till bar,” he says. “But I needed to cover more acres faster, with more efficiency. Neither of the bars was big enough.”

So Weber and his father and farming partner Tom bought a used, 16-row mounted planter frame, complete with rear-mounted lift-assist wheels. They widened the spacers between the frame's two toolbars from 12 to 30 in. to handle heavy residue and bolted 32 Borgault fertilizer row units on 15-in. centers, 7½ in. on either side of the 30-in. row spacings.

“I intended to use an Exactrix anhydrous system and chose the Borgault openers that the company recommends,” Weber says.

The shop-built applicator matches muscle with Weber's largest tractor, a 215-hp unit with front-wheel assist. “I had considered buying a 16-row strip-till bar, but I would have needed to rent a bigger tractor to pull it. And, a mounted bar works better in ridge-till than a pull-type unit. With the Exactrix system, I'm only going 3 in. deep and, depending on the rate I'm applying, can pull it at 8 mph with my own tractor,” he says.

WEBER, FRIEND, NE, dual-bands liquid fertilizer with anhydrous. He carries 600 gal. of liquid in saddle tanks and tows a single anhydrous tank. “My co-op only has top-loaded tanks, which limits my application rate to 12 gal./min, or about 20 acres/hour at 4 mph on irrigated ground. On dryland fields with a lower application rate I can apply at 8 mph,” he says.

Towing two tanks would add capacity, but also add tracks that Weber doesn't want in his field. He matches the 16-row applicator with a 16-row planter to minimize compaction.

“I gain fertilizer efficiency by dual-banding the liquid with the anhydrous. We use thiosul in the blend, which acts like N-serve and locks up the nitrogen (N) so all the nutrients are available into July,” Weber says. Blending thiosul with 10-34-0 gives him a final analysis of 20-34-0-21S-.7ZN, which he applies at a rate of 16 gal./acre.

“We cut our N rates 40% in 2007 and felt like maybe we left a little yield in the field. In 2008, we'll cut rates to 20% less than recommended and should be fine. We'll apply 150 lbs. N with anhydrous and another 20 lbs. N in the liquid for a total of 170 lbs. N on our irrigated acres,” he says.

Weber applies all his fertilizer in the spring. “With this unit, we have enough capacity to get the work done in the spring,” he says. “I'd like to sidedress all the corn, but there isn't enough time to get that done.”

While Weber's machine does everything he wants, he may modify it in the future. “When we spread the toolbars 30 in. apart, it necessitated the lift-assist wheels. The way it handles residue, though I think we could go back to the original 12-in. spacings and eliminate the assist wheels. Without the assist wheels we would run over less corn when we sidedress and it would eliminate the need to extend the rear hitch frame so the anhydrous tank can clear the assist wheels on turns,” he says.

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