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Corn+Soybean Digest

Managing Liquid Assests

Frank Bender has modified his planter and outfitted a nurse truck to make corn planting a fluid operation, literally and figuratively, on his Poseyville, IN, farm.

Bender relies on 32% nitrogen and 10-34-0 starter applied from his 12-row planter. Starter is popular in his corner of southwestern Indiana, where the phosphorus helps with early seedling vigor, he notes.

His preference for 32% has nothing to do with a dislike of anhydrous; it's more about spending time pulling the planter rather than an anhydrous toolbar.

"Anhydrous is a great product, but when I put on anhydrous I could be planting," says Bender. "I may give up a little time putting on liquid with the planter, but I still get corn planted in a timely manner."

And applying all the nitrogen at planting avoids a return engagement for sidedressing.

"The risk of not getting back into the field on a timely basis was just too great," he points out.

Bender rigged his planter to apply 32% in a 4 x 4 pattern with single-disk openers. Next, he adjusted the Yetter row cleaners to "tickle" across the ground while Deere 13-wave coulters provide more tillage in the rows. The planter has standard disk openers, but carries Keeton seed firmers. Bender drops the starter fertilizer in the rows behind the seed but in front of the closing wheels.

And when it comes to closing wheels, the planter has a split personality, pairing AccuPlant closing wheels with standard solid closing wheels. He positioned the AccuPlant wheels on the left on the planter's left six closing wheel units and on the right for the other six units.

That configuration helps crumble the seed wall and breaks up sidewall compaction.

"As long as you get dirt on the seed and firm it, you'll be okay," says Bender.

His planter carries six 70-gallon tanks for starter and a 1,000-gallon stainless steel tank (for 32%) rides a caddy behind the tractor. Application rates range from 160 to 180 units of nitrogen per acre, with the higher rates going on his corn-after-corn ground. The starter rate is about 5 gallons per acre.

To nurse the planter, Bender bought a 40' semi and loaded it with three 1,650-gallon poly tanks and a 1,500-gallon steel tank. The poly tanks are plumbed together into a 3" pump while the 1,500-gallon tank runs separately into a 2" pump. The caddy-mounted tank is fed by a red 3" flexible hose that's easily blown clean of fertilizer.

An 80-gallon water tank under the semi's deck lets Bender wash fertilizer from himself and the equipment. ?

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