Three years ago, multi-hybrid planting was a concept people were playing with in the field. The idea is simple: Switch corn hybrids as you cross a field to match the soil types. Give each area of the field the best opportunity to produce to its maximum potential.
Developing equipment to meet this challenge was a bigger task. However, several companies have risen to the occasion. There are now several options on the market if you want to plant two hybrids in the same field in the same pass.
Rich Schlipf, Milford, Ind., has experience using two hybrids in one planter and writing prescriptions to put one hybrid on better ground and a second hybrid where the yield potential isn’t as great. He operates Schlipf Precision Ag, specializing in Precision Planting products. Besides farming, he also helps lots of other farmers set up their equipment to plant in the best way possible for their farm.
The planter Schlipf used to plant corn this year was set up with vSet meters with the multi-hybrid option from Precision Planting. It’s like the planter he has used in the past to do the same task.
“Our soils here can vary from sand to true muck in the same field,” he says. “What I’ve found is that if we go to a hybrid more suited to poorer-producing areas when we reach those spots in a field, yields tend to hold up better than if we plant the same hybrid there that we want to plant on our better ground. Some racehorse-type hybrids meant for good soils don’t hold up too well on less-productive soils.”
Schlipf writes prescriptions so the computer in the cab tells the planter instantly when to switch hybrids. The process is nearly seamless today, he notes. Once the computer knows the planter is back to better soils, it tells the planter to switch those row units back to the main hybrid.
The program is written so that when it switches hybrids, it typically also reduces the planting population. Poorer areas of the field tend to perform better at slightly lower plant stands, Schlipf says.
Schlipf typically puts out test plots of various kinds and does quite a bit of product testing each year. This is another reason why he makes sure his planter can switch from one hybrid to another.
“I need to be able to know how it works so I can explain it to my customers and help them see where it might fit,” he says. “The bottom line, however, is that on land which I farm, being able to put a more defensive hybrid on poorer soils can help boost yields overall.”
Precision Planting has a new option out for multi-hybrid planting this year. Called mSet, it features individual seed boxes on each row. The boxes are designed so the compartment for the hybrid that will be planted on the majority of the field is the largest.