Not much has changed in the way farmers plant their crops in the last six or seven decades. Precision seed dropping is making variable seeding rates possible and allowing growers to plant at faster speeds.
But the point where the planter contacts the soil was last refined when the double disc opener was introduced in the 1950 and 60s. Re Envision Ag, a company based in north central Iowa, is hoping to change that.
“In the spring of 2019, the clock was ticking on planting corn,” said Jayson Ryner, a farmer and CEO and founder of Re Envision Ag. “We were experiencing the wettest spring on record for the second year in a row. We could drive across our fields, but the disc openers on our planters would cause too much compaction if we tried to plant.”
Ryner, a speaker for the AgLaunch Start-up Station at the virtual Mid-South Farm and Gin Show, said disc openers are designed to be used in soils that have been dried out with tillage at between 4 and 6 miles per hour.
“Today we are trying to use the disc opener where it was never meant to go – into high residue and wet soils, using high speeds while applying up to 300 pounds pf down pressure, resulting in disc opener compaction,” he noted.
“Farmers planting in wet soils can experience 20% to 50% yield loss caused by disc opener compaction. In cotton, the challenge of planting into cover crops is getting the seed to fall through the thick mat into the shallow furrow and then getting the furrow closed up again.”
Re EnVision Ag is developing a dibble-style planting system that allows seed to be placed with a minimum of soil disturbance. The dibble, which features a hollow spike attached to a small seed box, punches through the soil and delivers seed at a precise depth.
“You can see the dibble moving around in this artist’s rendering,” said Ryner, referring to a video shown during his presentation. “Notice that the wheel is not dragging through the soil creating a gash. Only the dibble enters the ground. The design places the seed at the optimal depth and spacing chosen by the farmer.”
The company plans to sell individual row units equipped with dibbles mounted on a cylinder. “Our row unit is designed to pay for itself quickly while widening the planting window, lowering input costs, capturing full yield potential and expanding the farmers bottom line while also achieving healthier soils and sustainability.”
This spring the company will be working with the AgLaunch Farmer Network in side-by-side field trials. In the summer, Ryner plans to pitch the new concept to a “farmer-angel” network of growers who could benefit from the new product.