Tom McKinney went to the field this spring with the same planter he planted corn with a year ago. Only there was one major difference. The 24-row, center-fill planter originally came with tires to carry the weight of the planter in the center. Now it’s equipped with Soucy tracks.
In addition to farming, McKinney and his wife, Karen, own a Precision Planting dealership in Tipton, Ind. Neil Cline works with the dealership, located out of the farm office.
“We set up a test and measured the effect of the tires on the rows next to them last year,” Cline says. The yield loss was several bushels per acre on the rows affected, he says.
That was true even though McKinney installed boxes on the planter and doesn’t fill the center tanks with seed. Cline also dug roots from rows between the tires and away from the tires, and documented that the weight of the tires was causing soil compaction that affected root growth.
The tracks lay down a wider footprint, spreading the weight over a larger area, Cline says. “We will find out if it makes a difference this fall,” he says. “We are going to do yield checks and see if there is still a yield difference on rows next to the tracks.”
Investing in tracks wasn’t cheap, McKinney notes. However, he says even if they don’t help yields on the rows next to them, which he believes they will, there are other benefits to having tracks instead of large tires on the planter. He likes the way the planter handles both in the field and on the road with the tracks, he says.
Look for results after harvest this fall to see what McKinney and Cline discover when they measure yield on rows next to tracks vs. other rows.